Many clients’ abusive exes shout or sneer that they need therapy. This usually occurs during the devaluation and discard stages of the relationship. If you’re in or have been in a relationship with an abusive individual who blame shifts, avoids accountability, projects and gaslights, you’ve probably heard this, too.
Narcissistic, borderline and/or diagnostically unidentified abusive partners typically say this when:
- You begin to create and enforce boundaries. For instance, telling them no and refusing to engage in circular pointless conflict.
- You emotionally detach.
- You no longer fall for the old manipulations, guilt trips, shaming, temper tantrums, silent treatments, etc.
This is a great example of a broken clock being right twice a day. Meaning, you probably could use supportive counseling, but not for the reasons your spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend thinks. In other words, you can use therapy as a vehicle to become stronger and healthier.
Therapy can be beneficial in helping you identify that what you’re experiencing is abuse. It can help you understand why you tolerate abuse and confuse it with love. And, importantly, a good therapist can help you formulate a safe exit strategy.
If you do seek therapy, you’re under no obligation to tell your abusive spouse what you discuss. Regardless of what she or he believes, you have a right to privacy. Why do these individuals want to know what you discuss?
All the better to control you, my dear. A narcissistic or borderline partner can’t have a therapist telling you that her or his behavior isn’t okay and is, in fact, abusive. The therapist is supposed to act as their accomplice, tell you everything’s your fault and provide instruction on how to be an enthusiastic doormat again!
If you’re a man, be sure to find a therapist who doesn’t deny the existence of female abusers or, even worse, claims abusive women are really victims of the patriarchy. Also avoid therapists who are enablers and apologists of borderline personality disordered women who abuse their partners and children. They do more harm than good.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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