A New Year, A New You

For many people, January is a time of renewed hope and a fresh start. Marking a new year often means closing one chapter and viewing the next with new purpose and expectation. But this is not the case for those stuck in emotionally abusive relationships. Their vision is obscured by the trauma of their experience, which feeds two big lies to them: 1) Everything is a threat, and nothing is to be trusted and 2) I have no power to effect the change needed to free or protect myself. It may be that you’re not feeling hopeful or confident that
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What is Sex Addiction?

The phrase “sex addiction” has emerged in popular society in recent years, due to several high-profile celebrity cases, including Harvey Weinstein, Tiger Woods, and Kevin Spacey. Though it is a newer term in popular culture, the concept of compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction has been around since the early 1970s.
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5 Ways to Navigate Holiday Conflict

Very few of us like to admit it, but the holidays aren’t always the most wonderful time of the year for everyone. Even so, we are expected to be cheerful and merry. If you don’t find yourself looking forward to the holidays because of the stress and conflict that it brings, you’re not alone. Many people tend to feel additional strain on their relationships around the holidays for a number of reasons, including holiday spending and numerous social and family obligations. You don’t have to fall victim to the same patterns of conflict and strife you’ve faced in the past.
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Defining Emotional Abuse, Part 3: Using Anger as Weaponry

“Emotional abuse” often feels like a heavy and serious accusation, especially when combined with the words “anger” and “weaponry.” Yet living in an emotionally abusive relationship takes a heavy toll on your mental and physical health and your self-esteem, not to mention the relationship itself. Maybe you’ve wondered if your relationship is emotionally abusive. Your partner’s actions are hurtful, but are they bad enough to be considered abuse? One of the most harmful and insidious aspects of emotional abuse is that it can be difficult to recognize. This article will help you better understand what emotional abuse is, and help
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2 Ways that Emotional Abuse Assaults Your Reality

This article is part of a series that examines different aspects of emotional abuse.  I will focus on one of the primary control strategies of emotional abuse, which is an assault on the wounded partner’s view of reality. The clinical terms for this are “gaslighting” and “crazymaking”. These refer to one person’s attempt to change, distort or deny the other’s understanding of events. The goal is to keep the partner off balance and make them unable to trust their perceptions. I often hear women in emotionally abusive relationships say things like, “Did I just imagine it?” or “Am I making
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Defining Emotional Abuse, Part 2: An Assault on Identity, Worth, and Value

Emotional abuse is rampant in our culture of entitlement and autonomy. It is an element in almost every divorce. Here at the Marriage Recovery Center, our working definition of emotional abuse is an ongoing pattern of defensive behaviors used to gain and maintain power and control in a relationship.  At its core, emotional abuse is an assault against one’s personhood. The assault is multi-faceted: targeting identity, worth and value; twisting perception of reality; disregarding emotions and lacking empathy; and using anger  as weaponry. This blog is part of a series that covers each of those aspects. I will be focusing
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Defining Emotional Abuse, Part 1

Emotional abuse is real and very destructive. Emotional abuse is a pattern of defensive behavior used to gain and maintain power and control over a partner—wittingly or unwittingly. This form of abuse is a pattern of behavior including constant criticism, humiliation, and dismissiveness of another’s thoughts and feelings. These patterns of manipulation and intimidation lead to the loss of a person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth, which further results in significant anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even suicidal feelings.
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Separation: A Time for Reflection and Growth

In marriages characterized by coercion and destructiveness, a separation can create space for healing and open the door for potential reconciliation. It allows for time away from the destructive environment and constant triggers. There’s an old saying, “If you love someone, set them free, and if they come back to you, it was meant to be.” I don’t think life is really as fatalistic as that, but there is definitely something to be said for the deeper element of free will. When free will is taken out of the picture, love ceases to be love. If love is coerced, demanded,
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