December 10, 2011

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship by Beverly Engel

I had hoped that by reading this book to gain a little more clarity on everything that has happened. While it helped reinforce what an abusive relationship looked like, it wasn't as proficient at helping figure out what they next steps were except for a few cases with specific qualifications. This book would probably be most useful for intimate relationships rather than any other kind of abusive dynamic.

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship takes a look at both the abuser and the victim. It offers techniques and help for both on improving the relationship. Each chapter is set into two parts, one for the victim figuring out if they are being abused, and the other for the abuser figuring out if they are abusing someone. The first part deals with actually putting a label on the abuse. The next tries to show why someone might abuse/allow themselves to be abused. Next is how to prevent the abuse from happening on both sides. The last part is where to go from here after reading this book.

I found the book very helpful in the first part when it outlines whether or not you are in an abusive relationship or not or if you are abusing something. The checklists are easy to follow and spell out why something is or isn't abuse. It was the next part that I had some trouble with. The author insists that abusers/victims all have some original abuser in the past and you have to come to terms with that abuse before healing this abuse. The problem with that is, what about those people who didn't have abusive childhoods but still find themselves victims of abuse? There are no other alternatives in this book so those in this situation find themselves floundering trying to figure out why they “let” themselves be abused. And that is another problem, no one purposely seeks out an abusive relationship but this author seems to think they do. Often abusers are on their best behavior for the first few weeks, months, years and then escalate when major life changes like buying a house or marriage come into the picture.

Stopping the Abuse is also a very dangerous part as it suggests confronting your abuser head on with this knowledge. This can be both physically and mentally endangering as often times abusers don't care or want to admit their behavior and will take out their anger at the accusal on the victim. This chapter may be more helpful for abusers looking to improve themselves rather than victims looking to stop the abuse. This part does have a nice section on personality disorders though and identifying if the abuser or victim may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder.

Not the best book since it seems to blame the victim for entering the relationship and then advises several unsafe things for them to do. May be good as an identifier for an abusive relationship but not as a cure all. It also has some handy resources for books, websites, etc. in the back although some of the websites are no longer in service.

The Emotionally Abusive Relationship
Copyright 2002
255 pages

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