Mandy Kloppers

Abusive Relationships



Abusive relationships

Abuse in relationships is an area that I specialise in, not only from a professional stance but also from a personal one. my mother and her two sisters all experienced abusive relationships. Abuse comes in many forms-physical, emotional and verbal. My mother and her two sisters experienced all three forms of abuse. I remember growing up with angry and violent men surrounding me. At one stage we lived in a block of flats in Hillbrow, Johannesburg in South Africa. My mum’s youngest sister’s boyfriend kicked in the glass doors at the entrance to the office block. I can also recall an incident when I was five or six years old when my mum’s boyfriend tried to access our apartment from the next-door apartment’s balcony. there was never a dull moment growing up although many ways I think that would have been preferable.

The Oscar Pistorius’s trial has brought it all home to me. Judging from the whatsapp messages sent between Oscar and Reeva Steenkamp, it is clear that he was a jealous, possesses and controlling boyfriend. Often abusers have low self-esteem and many insecurities. they cope with these vulnerabilities by belittling and demeaning their partners. They slowly and subtly erode their  partners confidence. It can be such a subtle process that the victim begins to question their own judgement. They are often made to believe that they are “too sensitive” or that there is something wrong with them  because they “cannot take a joke”. abusive partners are often narcissistic, it’s all about them and their needs. Abusers tend to be uptight, controlling, narrowminded and lack confidence in themselves. They often have rigid rules about the world and tend to be suspicious of others.

Thankfully, I cannot remember much of my time with my mother’s abusive boyfriend-Philip. How ironic is it that he gave me a Christian Bible as a gift. Not very Christian to be beating my mother and frightening the life out of me. Apparently after he left, I would sit behind the couch and scream. I also, apparently used to terrorise our two dogs. I absolutely love animals and I can only surmise that I treated the dogs in this way to release all the negative energy that was stored up. I do remember when I was four years old, being awoken by my mothers crying. I got out of bed and found my mother lying on her back in the lounge on the floor with Philip kneeling over her. I pleaded with Philip not to hurt mummy. He roughly responded with “get back to your bed”. This happened three or four times. That is the only incident that I can remember.

I guess the one positive to take from this, is that I have never been with a boyfriend that hits me or uses physical violence in any way. I have unfortunately had experience of verbal and emotional abuse and I am continually shocked by how widespread this type of abuse is. It is vastly under reported and many do not even recognise the signs.

Signs of Abuse:

1) The relationship is hurried forward. Instead of taking time to get to know someone, and an abuser is very adept at emotional manipulation and will shower the potential new partner with attention and compliments. Once the potential new partner is ‘hooked’, the abuse begins.

2) Jealous, possessive and controlling.

3) Verbal abuse. Criticisms, subtle putdowns, negative remarks and questioning your judgement. insults such as “lazy, fat, ugly, slut”.

4) Isolation. An abuser will try to isolate you from your friends and family. This is part of the control.

5) Withholding affection. When you do not behave as they wish, your punishment involves a withdrawal of love, attention and affection.

6) Emotional abuse. Efforts to make you jealous are common. Comparing you to others unfavourably. Constantly questioning your capabilities and belittling what you do and how you do it.

7)Abusers often lack empathy and display narcissistic traits.

The difficulty in identifying and abuse is that they are not always abusive. They can be loving, generous and kind. Once a person is emotionally invested in the relationship they try hard to focus on the positives and minimise the negatives. A subtle system of brainwashing seems to take place and the victim justifies the abusive behaviour. Many victims blame themselves and tell themselves that if only they were better cooks or cleaned the house more efficiently or were a little bit thinner and everything would be okay. This is rarely the case.

An abuser has a dysfunctional way of looking at the world. Therefore, no matter how hard you try to please them, there will always be something lacking. Often victims that become involved with abusive types suffer from low self-esteem as well. This is not always the case though because when emotion becomes involved logic goes out the window. Abusers can be incredibly charming and people are often flabbergasted when the true character of the abuser is revealed.

If you suspect that you may be in an abusive relationship, seriously consider your future options. Rarely do abusers change their ways. Get support from friends and family and local charities and restore some balance. Life is short-make sure you allow yourself to have the best life possible.

Mandy X

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