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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I moved forward from a psychologicaly abusive relationship?

    For over 10 years I let myself be changed to suit what my partner required in the relationship to the point where I became depressed and felt that I had lost my identity. She was a person who could never apologise; could never use words like us, we, or ours - instead it was always yours or mine; our sex life never fully met my needs - she never initiated and eventually refused to have sex. When I finally realised what was happening, and expressed my concerns and my need for my partner to stop and make changes, they refused to do anything. I found out that she had stolen from her employer, she was lying to me, and had been meeting up with a former lover. Eventually after a number of seperations and attempts at reconciling, my partner left and there is no possibility of getting back together. I have been left with the joint debts from the relationship and which my former partner refuses to contribute any money towards managing the debts. I am now feeling very sad and isolated.
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  • 3


    Ivan Bakich

    Clinical Psychologist, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist, Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Sex Therapist

    I work in the area of Clinical Psychology including Testing, Intellectual Assessments and Basic Neuropsychological Assessments. I am also a Psychotherapist, Marital/Couples and Family Therapist, … View Profile

    Sadly, like many others, you waited and hoped for a positive change, however, your partner's self-centred and exploitative behaviour and lack of reciprocity, left you in the cold. Regretfully, you obviously were unable to break off the relationship which was probably the result of your strong attachment needs if not dependence on your partner for most of your needs.

    It is apparent that your partner's exploitative behaviours were callous and remorseless and with narcissistic and antisocial personality features. This relationship would never work out because you were caught in a web of deceitful manipulative behavioural patterns; your ex-partner was the one orchestrating the moves.

    You are a pleaser, a person who accommodates to others, a person who appears to be compliant, a person who was hopeful, but you finally realised the futility of your relationship.

    You have to focus on your grief, you need to somehow take care of the debts which now you have to pay. You have a lot of work to do to recover from this traumatic relationship. You will have to pick up the pieces, work through your grief/loss and trauma, and eventually recover from your abusive traumatic experience.

    You will benefit from seeing a seasoned clinical psychologist who does more than CBT; a clinical psychologist who is trained and experienced in relationship therapy and psychotherapy. You have a lot of tranferential material to bring to therapy but I feel that you can work through your pain and loss.

  • 1




    Michelle Linmore

    Counselling Psychologist, Counsellor, Psychologist, Sex Therapist

    Specializing in couples counselling, infertility, gay and lesbian counselling, sex therapy and relationship workshops. Based in Canberra. View Profile

    Sounds like you've been through a really rough time.

    In my experience it helps a lot to spend some time after a relationship ends talking it through to make sense of what happened. 

    When it wasn't your choice to end things (you say your partner left), it is really common to be confused and need time to catch up.  The grief of saying goodbye can be complicated when there are feelings of betrayal and a sense of unfairness about the outcome (ie being left with debts).

    Seeing a counsellor might be helpful so that you are less alone with your experience and you can process all of the different reactions you are probably having.

    For now it may assist to develop a positive routine for yourself looking after your own basic needs (ie eating well, exercising, socialising, getting back into your interests).  

    It can also help to reduce contact with your ex and make any contact quite business like rather than re-engaging in conflict and negative intimacy. 

    You may benefit from meeting others who have been through separation.  If you look around you may find some relevant support groups in your area.  Hang in there, you are not alone.

  • I am a psychologist in private practice.I also lecture and supervise psychologists/psychology students at University.I work with clients who suffer from depression and anxiety. I … View Profile

    You have been kind and accomodating of someone who could not be pleased. Now that she has left, you need to deal with the grief and the hurt. It may take some time for you to come to terms with what has happened. I hope that you have some good friends that you can confide in. Time will heal these wounds however I also think that talking to a good counselling psychologist would be useful. While you did not do anything to deserve such bad treatment from your partner, it seems that you were not able to protect yourself from abuse. Moving on from this relationship is important , as is being able to avoid suck relationship mistake in the future. A psychologist can  help you with these issues.

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