An anonymous reader commented on my Emotional Abuse page this morning. I have provided part of the comment below:
I would like your opinion on abusive/emotional abused relationships (AR) which can also be classified as part of typical chronic stress. I am very curious around the following: IF such circumstances (AR) prevail to such an extent and for a very long period of time (say decades) that the brain functionality within such a victim can shutdown in the form of dementia as some type of inherent protection. I can maybe describe the situation as if the soul of such a person goes into hiding within her/his body? Usually found within a relationship of a very successful driven person, married to someone very supportive, subordinate or “slave” type of relationship. As many studies show and you stated that such a person becomes so used to AR within such a relationship that they seldom realizes the ongoing AR until the mind/brain decides for them?
I initially sensed this person was trying to make excuses for the abuser, trying to make a connection between successful people and their stress levels as a cause/reason for the abuse. Then I thought maybe the reader is talking about her own stress induced by the abuse tucked away subconsciously.
Because I am no therapist or counselor and only have my own experiences and the experiences of other survivors as resources, I worry that my answer (provided below) may be insufficient. Please provide your comments to help add more clarity for the reader.
What you describe is what happens in all situations of abuse regardless of the abuser’s success in business. The abuser could simply have a notion that he/she is successful. People who mentally, emotionally, verbally, spiritually, and physically abuse others are NOT superior humans, not evolved in any way. Somewhere along the line their ability to solve-problems using their cognitive abilities was interrupted/aborted. What they excel at is the primitive abilities to cry, manipulate, and make demands in order to guilt their victims into complying with the abuser’s needs. And their biggest need is to control their victims. It’s the ultimate goal…CONTROL.
A business man who can’t control the changing market or decisions of others WILL seek to control what and who he can control. More often than not, it’s a subservient wife, his children, his pets, or the help, just to name a few. All of these people have become dependent on the abuser financially, and the abuser WILL use that to his advantage. The victims feel helpless to act against the abuser, because the abuser has threatened the victim, made the victim believe she/he can’t survive without him. And the abuser is correct. The victim can’t survive or live as she/he has been living with the luxuries the abuser has provided.
So, the victim shuts down and goes into herself, as you describe. But this is where the lines become blurred. Who is in control and who has simply given up control? We as human beings can’t be controlled unless we allow someone to control us. It’s difficult to come to this realization when you are being beaten up on a daily basis verbally, emotional, physically, spiritually, and sexually.
As soon as we realize we want to take back control, that’s when we stop being the victim. But in shedding the victim robe, we must also be aware of the increased responsibilities associated with being independent. Being independent and responsible is not an easy position for long-time victims to transition. Most victims initially lose many things: money, possessions, friends, jobs, and possibly ties to their community and their church. The victim, not the abuser, must make all of the changes. The abuser is free to continue being just as he has always been.
It’s a frightening prospect to be faced with losing everything and be prepared for your abuser to keep reminding you of this in hopes you’ll change your mind and remain his prisoner/slave. It’s about choice. Really. And it’s about being okay with the pain of emerging from your cocoon and wanting to live with 100% accountability of what and whom you become.
I welcomed the pain, having faith that there was something much more beautiful than the hell I found myself. I hope this makes sense to you. ~Paula
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