by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
People in abusive relationships want peace, safety, harmony and well-being. Yet, the things they do in the spirit of pursuing their peace, more often than not, bring them conflict that compromises their children and themselves.
I think this goes hand-in-hand with the very dynamics that predispose people’s establishing abusive relationships. Some people may call it naivety. I think it has more to do with expecting your cures, your rescues and your solutions to come from the outside…rather than from within.
The White Horse Syndrome
I see this in every step of the abusive relationship. It is present in its inception, in its deepening development and in its termination. It is there every step of the way.
Here’s what it looks like… While you and I know that both women and men can be victims in abusive relationships, let’s use the example of “she” for simplicity.
It begins with her meeting the knight on the white horse…so she thinks. He is there to rescue her…to fix her…to complete her. He is the answer to all that she needs.
Then, as the relationship develops, he is her boss. He makes all of their decisions because they both have agreed that he knows best. He has all of the answers and he is always right.
She goes along with him because it is expected and over time she quickly learns that there will be serious repercussions if she doesn’t. She bows to his privilege not because she sees him as more lofty, but because he holds the keys to her security and to her safety.
Then the day comes when things tip in the other direction and she realizes that he controls her safety and the lack thereof. Her well-being is in the fists of his manly hands. And he gets to choose if he swings or caresses.
Domestic Violence Divorce
She has had far too many hits to feel safe and secure with him and this leads her to look for safety elsewhere. So she embarks upon domestic relations court, expecting the court agents to help her usher in a life of safety for her children and for herself.
But after replenishing her attorney’s retainer three (or thirty) times, it occurs to her that this person serves as an extension of herself, while opposing counsel is an extension of her abusive partner. And in this, the abuse dynamics remain…festering and growing exponentially. The only difference is you are paying someone to maintain them on your behalf. And as this process progresses your children are torn further and further apart.
For some families the destruction to the children can be so severe that the children become unrecognizable as they are dragged through the nightmare of domestic violence divorce. These kids are polarized to the point of psychiatric bifurcation.
That is they are split right in two because they grow to know that it is not safe to love both parents equally. The controlling parent makes sure that they know the rules in the very same way that you were taught who is the boss in your domestic abuse home.
Keeping Your Children Safe, Happy and Whole
Years ago, I sought for a solution to the destruction of children in family court and I realized that it is far more realistic to change the family over changing the system. Even better…it is not only more realistic; it is desirable and amazingly satisfying for both the batterer and for the abused.
The Intimate Partner Abuse Treatment Program grew out of this commitment to keep people whole and to help them find safety and security, rather then fall pray to continued abuse. If you are in an abusive relationship and look to break the cycle, be mindful of the hazards of finding remedy in family court. There are no winners when you enable domestic violence even when it is deemed legal.
Be inspired to rise above the dynamics of abuse and seek to salvage sanity, wholeness and safety for you and your family. It is in your reach and it is your right to have this peace.
For more information about abusive relationships, or help with your own relationship, visit https://www.innersanctuaryonline.org/spousal-abuse-help
For a wealth of information and real-life insights on abusive relationships, visit https://innersanctuaryonline.org and start your Free 7-day trial today. Inner Sanctuary Online is designed to help you with the challenges of abusive relationships, from identifying them to influencing change within them to healing during and after them.
Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals and couples worldwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse.
© Dr Jeanne King — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention