Over the course of my career, I have helped many clients pursue a sense of personal power and emotional health sufficient enough to be safe, strong, and healthy while working through relationships with aggressive and/or abusive partners.

Generally speaking, these aggressive/abusive partners flourish in relationships in which they are given the power to control a person. To maintain power and control in their relationships, they need to be in relationships with individuals who typically have poor boundaries, low self esteem and who have little to no self confidence (a sense of no personal power). Similarly, codependent or co-addictive individuals fall within the abusive partner's "radar," especially when they are an addict.

To retain power and control in the relationship, the abusive partner has to control the relationship in order to create an environment of fear, insecurity, and perceived powerlessness. Consequently, a complicated dynamic of domination and submission is created; one in which power and control is perpetuated by physical, emotional, and/or verbal abuse, or the fear of the recurrence of such abuse.

Being afraid, not feeling like you have the power to stop the abuse, and secretly believing they couldn't find anyone better (being brainwashed), the victim partner believes they are powerless and therefore, trapped in a perpetual cycle of emotional, verbal, and/or physical violence. The cycle is maintained by frequent episodes of abuse which ultimately "brainwash" the victim partner in believing that they do not have any recourse (or resources) to stop the abuse. The cumulative effects of the cycle of abuse create further feelings of powerlessness, which further immobilizes the victim partner.

Contrary to what most people think, the most common mode of maintaining power and control is not through the use of physical violence. Most abuse is either done emotionally or verbally. Most victims of both physical and emotional/verbal abuse attest that the verbal/emotional wounds are deeper, hurt more, and take longer to heal.

The following list illustrates the tactics that the abusive partner uses to exert power of their victim partner that does not include physical violence.

1. Intimidation
2. Emotional abuse
3. Blaming, denying, and minimization
4. Financial control
5. Isolation
6. Turning their children and/or friends against them
7. Coercion and threats

The victim partner keeps "tied" into the abusive relationship due to their lack of experience and knowledge with relationships based upon mutuality, respect, and fairness. Often, the victim comes from a family in which they either experienced harm or neglect as children or witnessed harm or neglect to one of their parents. Often one or both of their parents were either an abuser or a victim of domestic violence. Therefore, the victim partner gravitates toward what is familiar, or unconsciously reminiscent of what they experienced as children. Although strange and paradoxical: what feels familiar is also seemingly safe.

Individuals, who are assertive or aggressive, bold, and/or edgy, seem to be the partners that the victim partner finds as "attractive." Although this prospective "attractive" partner seems safe, there are lurking red flags that are, at this point invisible. Likewise, the aggressive person is unconsciously attracted to a kind, forgiving, accommodating, and understanding individual, who they unconsciously recognize as someone they can control and who won't leave them when there abusive side emerges.

The relationships between these two types of people often start off with a bang: high levels of attraction/infatuation, poor boundaries, and intense and frequent sexual activity. Unfortunately, after the "chemistry" wears off, the unconscious elements come to the surface. The abuser establishes domination and the victim feels trapped and consequently falls prey to a role of passivity, fear, and powerlessness.

The saddest part of this relationship dynamic is that the victim partner unwillingly and unknowingly repeats the same patterns of their parents and their parents-parents-- all of whom incorrectly believed love and commitment supersedes respect, fairness, mutuality, and most of all, safety. "Love" is maintained at any cost.

There is help out there for the victims of domestic violence. Therapists like me offer a way out.

For further information: www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence

Author's Bio: 

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Clinical Care Consultants
3325 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Ste 400B
Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Phone:(847) 749-0514
Fax (847) 749-2995

Since 1988, Ross has been an administrator, professional trainer, counselor/psychotherapist, and an administrator in the mental health, social service and/or child welfare fields.

Ross is an established Illinois based professional trainer. Some of Ross’s trainings include

Sex Addiction: from A to Z
Caught in the Web: Cybersex, Romance and Fantasy Addiction
The Continuum of Self: The Attraction between Codependents and Narcissists
Therapy in the 21st Century: Technology’s Influence on Clinical Practice

Over the span of his career, Ross has worked with individuals who struggle with substance abuse, addictions, and co-addictions (Codependency). Ross’s addiction work includes chemical addictions (drugs/alcohol) and process or behavior addictions (sexual addiction, Internet addictions, gambling addictions, and spending addictions. Ross’s addiction services include counseling or all types, assessments, and professional consultation and training. Ross in considered an expert in the field of Sex Addictions and Internet Addictions, for which he provides comprehensive counseling services, training, and consultation.

Ross is well known in the local community for his work with hard to reach and oppositional adolescents. Typical issues with his adolescent clients include ADD / ADHD, drugs/alcohol, school challenges, anger control, eating disorders, self-mutilation, communication problems, and family struggles. Ross's work with teens also includes a family/parent focus, whether it is coaching, counseling / psychotherapy, or support.

Ross's work spans problem type, culture, ethnicity, gender, socio economic status, and sexual orientation. Some areas that Ross specializes in include: Marriage/Marital Counseling, Addictions, Codependency (Co-Addictions), Depression, Anxiety, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), Challenging Teens, Grief and Bereavement, Trauma Survivors (PTSD), Marital and Family Conflict, and LGBTQ issues

Ross's counseling / psychotherapy work with Codependency has enabled his clients to achieve balance, mutuality, and feelings of respect and appreciation in their lives. Balancing the care of others with the equally important ability to care for oneself is the cornerstone of codependency counseling / psychotherapy. Ross’s Codependency services includes individual, family, couples and/or marital therapies.

Ross's work with adult survivors of trauma and abuse enables his clients to break free from lifelong self-destructive patterns. His healing approach addresses "original wounds" (trauma of the past) which, without resolution, perpetuate emotional pain, suffering, and unsatisfying and dysfunctional relationships. This type of trauma counseling / psychotherapy promotes positive/healthy relationships, a heightened sense of well-being, and feelings of safety, control and happiness.

Another service provided is counseling and coaching for clients with ADD/ADHD. Ross provides assessment, diagnostic and a full range of ADD/ADHD psychotherapeutic services. Ross's collaboration with family members, medical, school, and employment personnel, creates a greater opportunity for success in the treatment of this disorder. Other ADD/ADHD services include coaching that addresses the following challenges unique to this disorder: communication, organization and follow-through, relationship and family challenges, work demands, and school demands.

Grief, loss, and death and dying are difficult issues that Ross helps his clients work through. Whether it is the loss of a loved one, job, lifestyle, or one’s health, vitality and even life, Ross guides his clients through difficult and often heart-wrenching times. Embracing diversity / cultural competence has been a cornerstone of Ross's practice

Ross's counseling / psychotherapy style has been described as solution focused, analytical, and educational while also being warm, intuitive, healing, spiritual, and compassionate. Ross's spirituality and metaphysical understanding enables him to reach people with diverse religious and spiritual beliefs. According to Ross, "for every problem, there is a solution; and within a warm and respectful therapeutic relationship lies the power to overcome the most seemingly overwhelming obstacles."
I provide psychotherapy, evaluations (ADD, addictions/substance abuse), supervision, consultation, training, and business coaching. Some of my specialties include: challenging teens, parenting issues, substance abuse, addictions, codependency or co-addictions, ADD, adult survivors of childhood abuse or neglect, trauma survivors, depression and/or anxiety, and grief and bereavement. As an expert in the field of sex addiction and sex co-addiction, I provide a variety of professional services.