Abusive relationships are often difficult to fix due to underlying psychological issues in both partners. While the abuser may be coping with untreated mental illness, the abused partner may develop psychiatric problems of her own, including chronic anxiety and depression. If both partners are committed to fixing the relationship, with ongoing therapy and intervention services, it is possible to break the cycle of abuse.
Ensure that all parties are safe from physical and emotional harm. Even if both partners want to fix the abusive relationship, it is important that neither person feels in danger. This may be mean seeking a restraining order or working with a domestic abuse shelter to find temporary housing while the abusive partner seeks mental health treatment.
Work on individual problems before beginning to fix the relationship. Whether the problems are with mental illness, substance abuse or difficulties dealing with a past traumatic relationship, the abuser must confront his problems before he can begin to fix his relationship with his partner. Likewise, the partner who is being abused work with a psychologist to work on problems that may have arisen from her partner's behavior. These issues may include problems with co-dependency, low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorder or alcoholism and drug abuse.
Talk to a marriage or family counselor. After both partners feel as though they are feeling healthy individually, they should meet with a therapist as a couple to discuss their relationship dynamic and to come up with ideas that will help them avoid slipping back into patterns of abuse.
Take time to communicate and understand what each partner needs from the relationship. When fixing an abusive relationship, is important for both partners to talk openly about what they expect from the relationship. It is equally crucial that both parties listen carefully to what the other person has to say.
Continue to seek out professional services even when things are going well. Once a couple has been involved in an abusive situation, it is easy to fall back into those patters. Ongoing counseling, anger management classes and substance abuse treatment can help both partners monitor their own moods and address problems with the relationship before either party reverts to abusive or unproductive behaviors.
- If your partner threatens you or your children or if you feel in danger, contact the police or a domestic violence hotline immediately.
Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.