Many people use the word “abuse” to mean rape, yet the true meaning covers a variety of areas of life. Emotional abuse is usually through verbal attacks, but is far more than just criticism or humiliation. In fact, there is no such thing as physical, sexual, or financial abuse without emotional abuse too. They are all closely linked. That is where the power of an abuser lies. If he hurts a woman once and she runs to safety, he can lure her back through emotional manipulation. The trauma of abuse runs so deep that her perception of herself and her world becomes altered, and she can’t see that she is being manipulated. Through emotional abuse, they both enter into a state of codependency.
What is it? Codependency is a cycle where BOTH people are dependent on each other. The abuser manipulates, but the victim also enables the abuser to continue his destructive behavior. Each person becomes addicted to the abusive relationship. Outsiders wonder why in the world a victim would choose to stay with such a harmful man, but a woman who is trapped in a codependent relationship is convinced that she has no other choice. She usually sees herself as a hero and not a victim – someone who God placed in his life to “rescue” him. But no one is being rescued, which years of misery can prove. Instead, both are being pulled further down into a pit of emotional guilt and blame. Take a look at this list and see if you can identify any qualities that describe you:
Some symptoms of codependent people:
1. Think and feel responsible for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, and their ultimate destiny.
2. Feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem.
3. Feel compelled – almost forced – to solve problems, such as offering unwanted advice, buying things they want, or soothing their feelings.
4. Anticipate other people’s needs and wonder why others don’t do the same for them.
5. Resent when people don’t do things for themselves, yet feel compelled to do those things for them anyway.
6. Tell themselves that their own wants or needs are not important.
7. Feel more offended about injustices done to others rather than injustices done to themselves. (Victim mentality)
8. Feel safest when giving.
9. Feel insecure or guilty when somebody gives to them.
10. Find themselves attracted to needy people and that needy people are attracted to them.
11. Feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don’t have a crisis, a problem to solve, or someone to help.
12. Overcommit themselves – don’t know how to say no.
13. Blame others for their difficulties and negative feelings.
14. Feel angry, victimised, unappreciated, and used.
15. Can’t understand why others feel impatient or angry with them for all of the preceding characteristics.
Not every codependent woman has all of these symptoms, and not every abused woman turns into a manipulator – but many do. As much as they hate abuse, many end up abusing others around them. Some just keep blaming themselves and burdening their lives with the unattainable task of making everyone else happy, while they become more drained and exhausted. These are good women, hard-working women who love God, but who need help to break out of this cycle. You might be one of them.