Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

How to Stop Abuse in Your Relationship

Woman in front of a window. The room is abuzz with energy because she's thinking so hard about how to stop the abuse in her relationship.

The Answer Isn’t What You Hoped

After I figured out that my husband abused me, I spent the next 18 months trying to figure out how to stop the abuse. I tried everything I could think of to stop the abuse in my marriage, but, in the end, this is what I came to understand:

“The answer to “How Do I Stop the Abuse?” is … drum roll, please … You can’t. I wish that you could control how another person speaks and how they act toward you. But you can’t.

“Raise your hand if you’ve ever asked your abuser to speak to you in a nicer way. Raise your hand if you’ve tearfully begged your abuser to be kinder to you. Wow. That’s a lot of hands.

“Did it work? No. At least not forever. The next time your abuser felt turmoil, they used their anger or sly verbal manipulations to bring you down again. You cannot stop physical, mental, emotional or verbal abuse from happening to you. The only thing you can do is change how you react to it.”

Kellie Jo Holly, How Do I Stop Verbal Abuse from the Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog at HealthyPlace

Why Can’t You Stop the Abuse?

Shouldn’t your partner love you enough to speak respectfully to you? Surely your tears and defiant anger show them how wrong they are to verbally abuse you, to emotionally abuse you, to hurt you. It seems that someone who loves you would want to stop hurting you.

But you can’t stop the abuse. You have no control over what your abusive partner says or does. You are not at fault. No matter what your abuser says, you cannot make them behave badly. The abuse is your partner’s fault. Realizing that you cannot make your partner stop being abusive is priority number one.

You Can Add New Behaviors That Will Result in a Change

You cannot love them enough to make them stop the abuse. You cannot change them. But, you can add some new behaviors in reaction to the abuse (see “How to Respond” sections on the Examples of Verbal Abuse pages). And if you change how you react to the abuse in your relationship, your partner may wake up and choose to change themselves.

You see, right now the abuse is working–your partner is getting what they want. To stop the abuse, you must reclaim your freedom to think, do, and say the things you know are right. Abuse makes you slowly hand over your freedoms to your abuser, so to stop the abuse cycle you must take them back.

So, what do you do to stop the abuse in your relationship?

How Do We Stop the Effects of Abuse?

Sometimes we just ask the wrong questions. It would be great to stop the abuse ourselves in some simple, magical way. But it doesn’t work. We’ve tried. So it is time to change the question.

The correct question is: “How do I stop the effects of the abuse?” To do that, we must remove ourselves from the abuser’s world (physically and figuratively), in the following ways:

  • Change how we’re willing to live.
  • Change our minds about what we’re willing to accept or refuse about ourselves.
  • Change our minds about what we’re willing to accept or refuse from our abusers.
  • Change how we react to abuse.
  • Change our attitudes about ourselves.

We can change ourselves to stop the effects of abuse. That’s the answer.

Featured photo by Diego San