Power Imbalance in Abusive Relationships – Part 1

th-2Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

This is Part 1 in a two part series on power imbalance in abusive relationships, common misperceptions, causes and effects of power imbalance, and how to correct them.

Part 2 discusses further the differences between aggression, power, and control in abusive relationships and how healing allows us to access and rely comfortably on our own personal power in mutually respectful healthy relationships.

This article discusses misperceptions on the relationship between abusers and their victims and describes the predatory aspects of abuse and the not so obvious causes of power imbalance in abusive relationships.

There is what I believe a huge misperception on the relationship between abusers and their victims. That is correct…their victims. You will read often that abuse is the need to control and take power over another. While this may be partly true, this does not accurately or completely describe the predatory aspects of abuse and the not so obvious causes of power imbalance in abusive relationships.

Dynamics of Work and Obligation in Healthy Relationships

starving soul hungerThe core to healthy relationship are healthy interactions between compassionate people who have healthy views on work and obligation. Simply put, emotionally healthy people work for what they need to benefit and sustain themselves and those they are in relationships with. We expect to periodically self-sacrifice and put in the extra effort to benefit someone else because we know if we do, we will reap the rewards as well. We also expect sometimes to not work so hard and let others put in the extra effort to care for us when we need it. We know that we are paid for the value of the service we provide to others no matter if they are loved ones, customers, bosses, or even strangers. We also work for what we need because we know and are confident we can do so and enjoy working towards our goals. It brings us joy. It sustains our life. It nourishes our souls. It makes us better people. We know that having “skin in the game” builds character. If we reap benefits that are equal to or exceed the efforts or costs to achieve them, then we are happy, content, fulfilled.

Dysfunctional Work and Commitment Dynamics in Abusive Relationships

This balance of give and take and work and obligation that fuels normal character development, relationships, and human existence becomes severely skewed in power imbalanced relationships. Why?

Because abusers simply detest putting out effort that might, even in part, benefit someone else. They can work very hard and can spend inordinate amounts time and energy working purely to get something they want. As most of us very well know, they can put in extraordinary efforts to groom and love bomb a potential mate or spouse. But putting the same amount of energy into finding or keeping a legitimate job, a personal relationship. taking care of a sick family member, demonstrating the loyalty and consistency necessary to be considered for advancement, or making the investment in personal self-development to merit consideration for more advanced positions are completely different matters and very unattractive enterprises to them. They want all the benefits of marriage, for example, without having to work for them or earn them! Abusers resist working to become better human beings more than any other kind of work. So even when it comes to respect and love and admiration, they want to come by them in the same manner as everything else  – without having to earn them.

Abusers benefit from the self sacrifice and work or their victims whom they exploit for their personal gain. The victims are stuck in “hamster wheel relationships” that go nowhere and get nothing back in return for their extreme investments of pain and energy. Their efforts are unrequited. Chronic exploitation leads to chronic emotional pain and trauma, overtaxing of our pain-based emotional mechanisms. They become depleted and emotionally fatigued, depressed, and traumatized. The extreme and long-term imbalance of power and chronic invalidation are the core to the damage from abusive relationship fueled by legacy wounded thinking and skewed beliefs that originated in abusive childhoods. It is this wounded thinking and these skewed beliefs that also makes us vulnerable to these predators.

Read more here on how we inherit pain-based thinking and how it is passed from generation to generation.

Abuser Find Us and Prey on Our Vulnerabilities

Abusers find us. We do not find them. In reality, abusers aggressively and offensively target and prey on the vulnerable ones who will easily give up their power and energy to them. Abusers do this because they loathe working on self-improvement, cannot self-soothe, cannot generate their own power and get great enjoyment and emotional fulfillment from taking it from, where else? Others! As discussed above, they want all the benefits others can provide them without working for them.

The abusers shadow their pain on vulnerable victims and use them and play on their vulnerabilities so they defensively give up their power to them. Abusers learned these predatory practices from the same place their victims learned their maladaptive behaviors – in their own families. People who are emotionally fit do not readily give up their power to others. In short, they would simply not be bothered with abusers because they are confident in their self-truth and rely comfortably on their personal power and on their internal cues to define their worthiness. They reserve their self-power for themselves and others they voluntarily choose to share their power with and who treat them with respect. They monitor and protect their personal rights, authorities and divinity comfortably and confidently. They assertively would tell the abusers to go away or ignore them and the abusers would simply move on to the next victim.

Adult survivors of childhood abuse, on the other hand, suffer from low self-esteem and pain addiction because their pain-based emotions lose their protective functions, go haywire, and become toxic. In effect, when we are abused as adults, our exaggerated pain and trauma and accompanying feelings of unworthiness and defenselessness from our youth are triggered. So our shame is old unhealed legacy shame and the beliefs are false wounded beliefs our childhood abusers shadowed on us that we bring with us into adulthood.

How Do Victims Become Victors and Take Their Power Back

Abusers do not hold some magical hold on us. We are not the source of our shame that drives our self-loathing. We are, however, vulnerable to abusers who target us due to damage from overuse of our pain-based emotions. It is our toxic pain-based emotions and false beliefs of powerlessness that cause us to give up our power to abusers who trigger our pain. We also believe falsely that we must suffer to be lovable, another skewed belief we were conditioned to believe in childhood.

th-1So victims of abuse do not deserve the pain and are not powerless or defenseless to their abusers. We are not the cause of our pain and we are not responsible for it and we are not defenseless to it. We are, however, adults who are thinking like abused wounded children, maladaptive thinking we formulated  when our brains and characters were developing and when we were most vulnerable that resulted from abuse and neglect and pain inflicted on us by those we trusted and were dependent on and who were supposed to care for and love us unconditionally. It was not our pain to begin with. This is pain and distorted thinking we shadow on our own children. This is how intergenerational abuse is perpetuated.

705466_cover_mockup1-1It is time to fix our self-esteem, heal our traumas, and TAKE OUR POWER BACK! It is time to break the cycle of intergenerational abuse. And as we heal, our children will heal through us. I explore these issues in much more depth in Part 2 in this series and in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. You can read a free sneak peek and review of the book and purchase a copy here.

Am I The Narcissist?

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

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I hear frequently from readers who fear they are the narcissist and the one with the personality disorder.

My answer?

“Absolutely not!”

This distorted thinking is a consequence of prolonged abuse that started in childhood and its traumatic impacts on your beliefs, self-worth, self-assurance, gauges of reasoning, and your abilities to trust and regulate your emotions.

The fact that you would even be concerned about this, demonstrates that your emotional capabilities although skewed, are intact.

Prolonged narcissistic abuse is slick invalidation from emotional vampires – carefully planned and premeditated efforts to stealthily through covert aggressive combat maneuvers, take everything valuable that you have to offer (your love, trust, compassion, beauty, generosity, child-bearing abilities, finances, or whatever) that they can manipulate from you to provide an illusion of grandeur and greatness to the world without any of the work.

When we do, we give up our power and energy that per our divine design at conception, were intended to be used by and for us to nurture our souls and become the best versions of ourselves as we search for internal truth – truth that we choose to share with others in relationships of mutual respect.

So, “no” you are not a narcissist. You, however, are a wounded victim of one or more who steal energy from you they cannot generate on their own. And perhaps you picked up some of their bad behaviors that will pass once you are away from them.

The good news is that you can fix your skewed thinking and heal and as you do, so will your children and you will thrive. You will make memories and people will love you just for being you. You will release the pain that made you vulnerable to them in the first place and become a stronger more self-assured version of yourself.

th-14You will take your power back and thrive. I explore these topics in much more depth in my book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors.

Narcissists will be forever evil and when they are done and gone, the only person anyone will miss is the one they will never be.

Read more below on the topic from one of my favorite Facebook Pages of “Truth,” “Sanctuary for Awareness and Recovery:”

Sanctuary For Awareness And Recovery

Paradox with several Personality Disorders and mental illnesses: since the ego and perception are both affected, it is common for those with some PD’s and mental illnesses with Narcissistic traits to actually perceive those they are treating poorly as the ones who are Narcissistic, because of their reactions to their behavior, or because they have healthy confidence and boundaries.

The root cause is usually a lack of boundaries, and a lack of respect or awareness for other people’s boundaries.

So the person who insults your teeth might call you “narcissistic” if you don’t just LET them insult your teeth. Apparently you were supposed to agree with them or hang your head in shame, not stand up for yourself against a blatant insult. So therefore in their mind the insult was perfectly fine, it was your reaction to the insult that was “narcissistic.”

Another example of this may be when someone enters your home or room without knocking or without waiting for an answer when this has not been established as the “norm” for them in your home or room, in other words you have NOT told them to “don’t knock, just come in.” They’re already showing a lack of boundaries with this behavior, so one shouldn’t be surprised that they react very defensively and emotionally when asked not to do that.

Saying and doing things that display hostility, arrogance, coldness, aggression, superiority or hatred are blatant displays of poor or absent boundaries, so when such a person’s behavior is confronted, disagreed with, or disapproved of, (speaking in a respectful manner that is), they are most likely going to react defensively and perceive it as arrogance, control, or an attack, and if they have some level of narcissism they may rage.