venting about an abusive relationship
|An improbably named young woman wandered into my office yesterday. Harla seemed like a victim and by her clothes I doubted she'd be able to afford my advice weekly. In any case, she was at wits' end and decided to give this old shrink a shot at saving her.
Right away, she admitted to being in a bad relationship. Bright-eyed little Harla had fallen in love with exactly the sort her parents had always championed. From the start it was magical, with everything the fellow said making perfect sense. She did everything he asked and felt good about herself.
It took awhile for cracks in her relationship to appear, mostly because they never argued. Whenever she had doubts, he refused to answer her. Whenever she pointed out inconsistencies, he blamed it on her lack of understanding. Anything she did right was merely expected, while anything done wrong was all her fault.
Over time, Harla began to see that her role in the relationship was to be the guilty party, for in what other way did this guy have to command her? She was never good enough for him, though he regularly forgave her shortcomings. She could only make it right by confessing. Her self-worth took a back seat to doing everything for him.
Meanwhile he would be absent for weeks, leaving her to fend for herself in difficult times. Later he would claim to have been with her the whole time, or offer that she deserved her tribulations. She did all the work in the relationship, and he took all the credit. It was his due, after all, because of the humongous sacrifice he had made for her.
If I had not heard all this before, I definitely would have been looking for this guy on the weekend with a couple of my beefier buddies. Why do some guys feel the need to browbeat women? Is it really that hard to be a good partner? I confirmed to Harla that, yes, she was in an abusive relationship.
But she wasn't anymore, she protested. She broke it off, refusing to talk to this serial bully. Except now her family and friends had turned against her. They knew she was suffering but somehow she should have made it work with the dude. They defended him to her! So she was still the victim even after escaping her tormentor.
Finally I could not maintain my professional detachment. Might do her good to know someone else is on her side. "Jesus Christ, that's unfair," I told her.
"What? You know him?!" Harla shrieked.
I didn't bill her.