Five Signs You are in an Abusive Relationship

Five Signs You are in an Abusive Relationship

From a young age, I had been a person whose heart went out for the ‘underdog’. I was kind and caring to classmates and animals. I had a lot of ‘feelings’ that weren’t often understood by my family. They thought I was too ‘sensitive’ and ‘too trusting’. I felt unseen which led to the underdevelopment of my identify. The stage was set for my victimization in my teens.

Here are five signs you are in an abusive relationship. I include my personal experience with abuse and the coaching I would give to someone who finds themselves in similar situations:

  • Physical Abuse

  • Intimidation

  • Emotional Abuse

  • Economic Abuse

  • Isolation

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The Two Different Kinds of Painful Emotions

The Two Different Kinds of Painful Emotions - Dr. Margaret Paul

People I work with often ask me to explain the difference between wounded feelings and core feelings – the existential painful feelings caused by others and by life.

One way of understanding this is that our core painful feelings - loneliness, heartache, heartbreak, grief, sorrow, helplessness over others, and fear of real and present danger - all reflect external reality.

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Post Traumatic Growth And Resiliency After Toxic Relationships

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A toxic relationship is highly destructive. It creates a loss of sense of self through verbal and emotional abuse that tears down the person at a very basic level. Toxic relationships are often hard to see for the individual, as the toxicity or the negativity and abuse builds slowly. Even when there is no physical abuse, the constant degrading comments, the control over every aspect of your life, the gaslighting and blame associated with these types of relationships causes damage that is hard to see but highly devastating to experience.

The good news is that people can leave toxic relationships. Taking the time to work with a therapist or a counselor or joining a supportive community like my Inner Circle helps to identify the key signs of a toxic relationship and to rebuild your sense of self-worth, self-compassion, and self-love.
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How to stay Empowered in the Presence of Bullies and Psychos

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One of the major human lessons today is learning to take our power back and reposition ourselves above the bullying and abuse that exists in the world.

Bullies and psychopaths are not just in the movies, they are real personality types. Manipulation and control are as addictive as heroin to these people. While they make horrible spouses and BFF’s, they are amazing spiritual teachers!

If a person has low self-worth or is lacking in self-respect they will attract these types of people and will probably get into a close relationship with them. They will keep these people close until they have learned the lessons they need to be more self-loving and self-respecting.

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Can We Ever Heal From Childhood Abuse?

lonely-teddy-bear-sits-in-a-puddle-in-the-rain-picture-id1168703996 Can We Ever Heal From Childhood Abuse?

If you had an abusive childhood, will you always suffer from it? This is the question that Andrea asked me about:

“I had a terrifying childhood. I have had counseling, motion light therapy, and been hypnotized, and they have done wonders for me, yet I still long for completion in my mind over these things. My question is – is there ever an end to your struggle in dealing with such things?”

 

The answer is Yes, You Can Heal, But There are Challenges…

Major healing occurs when you practice Inner Bonding and learn to give yourself the love you didn’t receive as a child. You need to learn to be the loving inner parent that your inner child needs. This is what will create the inner safety and self-worth that are necessary for healing.

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Confronting an Abusive Parent

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A woman wrote, asking:

“I am trying to connect with my family of origin. I’ve been working on my recovery for a bit over a year (ACA & Coda steps). I’d like to have a healthy relationship, with boundaries, of course, with my untreated family. But I can’t seem to have a relationship with my mother yet as I’m still processing my feelings from her abuse. I also feel that I need to confront her (when ready) to let her know my truth instead of ‘pretending’ that things are fine between us. This has been a DIFFICULT journey for me that affected my life. Though I know my mother can’t give me what I would like, I wonder if confronting her eventually would help ME with my relationship with her. I know some people don’t agree with confronting. I’m torn about this. I want to eventually have forgiveness for my mother, but I’m not there yet.”

 

The question you need to ask yourself is, “What do I hope to gain by confronting my a abusive mother or father?”

Here are some possible answers:

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You CAN Heal The Wounds of Abusive Parenting

childhood The outlook doesn’t have to be bleak for those of us who had abusive or neglectful parenting.

“There are clear links between an individual’s psychological coping strategies and his or her physiological coping strategies. Both are established in infancy and toddlerhood and tend to persist through life.” –Sue Gerhardt, “Why Love Matters,” p. 77

Sue Gerhardt paints quite a bleak picture of our chances of being whole and happy if we didn’t receive the love we needed as infants and toddlers. At the end of her excellent book, ‘Why Love Matters,’ she does say that people can heal with extensive and expensive psychotherapy. But what if you can’t afford expensive psychotherapy?

She states in her well-researched book that part of the brain – the part of the prefrontal cortex that is responsible for being able to manage and regulate very painful feelings – does not get developed when we have parents who were unable to lovingly regulate our feelings for us as infants and toddlers. Can this part of the brain develop in adulthood?

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Stand up to Bullies

violence-in-today-schools-picture-id1125699891 “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” - Maya Angelou

Do you see a bully?

The Practice:
Stand up to bullies.

Why?

Humans are profoundly social. Woven through the tapestry of our relationships are several major threads. One of these is power. The only question is, do we use it for good or ill?

The abuse of power can be called many things, including intimidation, fraud, discrimination, and tyranny. I’ll use a term that’s down-to-earth: bullying.

Bullies are unfortunately common. Throughout history and right now today, from homes and schoolyards to the halls of power, they create a vast amount of human suffering. What can we do?

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How to Avoid the Accumulation of Trauma

sad-girl-sitting-thoughtfully-at-the-street-picture-id485357448 Abusive relationships serve their purpose in your evolution

Trauma is the emotional wound that certain experiences can leave behind. As many of you know the effects of trauma can linger for years after the initial experience that caused it has been over.

It leaves behind Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with the tendency to project the pain of the experience on to our current situations. It essentially keeps us stuck in our past in a way that is negative and unproductive.

It thwarts our personal growth and can come in the way of the healthiness in our relationships. This includes both personal or business relationships.

It creates addiction and insurmountable substance abuse. The lives that trauma has claimed are countless.

There are different levels of trauma. Some of it is so violent and devastating that there’s really no human way possible to avoid accumulating it. i.e. creating it and storing it in your body on an emotional level. It is my experience that these traumas are able to be healed. It can take years of cellular, energetic clearing, depending on the person.

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Learning to Find Your Voice

bluedoor Learning to Find Your Voice

“The moment a woman comes home to herself, the moment she knows that she has become a person of influence, an artist of her life, a sculptor of her universe, a person with rights and responsibilities who is respected and recognized, the resurrection of the world begins.” 

– Joan Chittister

“You have found your voice.”

That’s what the subject line of the e-mail said.

I stared at it for the longest time. I didn’t really even think that I wanted to open the note. The subject line was a gift in and of itself.

As I stared at it longer, my eyes welled up with tears. I had waited a long time to hear a message like that, much less read it in print.

Think about that phrase in the context of your own life. Think about someone saying that to you. How would it make you feel?

Do you feel as though you have found your voice, and if so, are you using it the way you want? If you haven’t, do you know what’s keeping you from finding it?

For many (and I’d put myself in this category) it can take a long time to find your own authentic voice. Over the course of my life, I’ve used my voice in a myriad of ways. I’ve used it to tell other people’s stories. I’ve used it to advocate for people running for office or causes I believe in. I’ve used it on behalf of those I love. I’ve used it lovingly, sternly, timidly, and assertively. And, somewhere along the way after using it enough, I’ve finally found my own true voice.

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Empowering Bad Behavior - #TimesUp Now!

Kelley-Kosow-TimesUp

Happy New Year! I have been thinking a lot about this first newsletter of 2018. In a perfect world, I might be using this post to share with you some profound, uplifting, spiritual experience that I had ringing in the New Year and setting the tone for the upcoming year, but the fact is I cannot. I rang in the New Year experiencing emotions that ranged from horrified, shocked, and speechless to feeling victimized.

I was at what I thought was going to be a sweet get-together which quickly got hijacked by the bad behavior of a 40-year old woman who, in a nutshell, was committed to proving that she was right and everyone around her was wrong because they were not adhering to her demands and doing and acting as she wanted them to. Although I've only known this woman for a relatively short time, from what I have seen, this woman's bad behavior had nothing to do with New Year's Eve. It has been on display since the day I met her and from what I have heard from people closest to her, it has always been ever-present in her life – igniting toxicity, trauma, and trouble where ever she goes and with whomever she is with.

Yet, just as troubling as this woman's consistent bad behavior has been the reaction of everyone around her. Not wanting to have to "take on her stuff," they let her stuff dictate and infect every move, moment, and mood. That was until New Year's. Seeing the horror, hurt and humiliation reflected in the eyes of people like myself and others who were bystanders as we watched the events of the evening unfold, the people closest to this woman could no longer ignore the proverbial elephant in the living room. It was painfully obvious that the air and joy was being sucked out of the room and that their tendency to choose "harmony" over truth had landed them in hell and empowered bad behavior as well as a negative, venomous presence in the space. 

Interestingly, if I have seen any theme so far in 2018, it has been very much in keeping with the one I just described. I have already received numerous calls and messages from people who can no longer tolerate accepting or enduring the bad or inappropriate behavior of others to rule the roost, be it their children, spouses, co-workers, employers, or friends. They've had it with living in denial, turning a blind eye, trying to make it better, or being blinded by their own wishful thinking. The cost of living in an environment of constant judgment, righteousness, and pessimism has not only brought them down, but also been downright depleting. 

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Spiritual Growth and Sexual Abuse

Spiritual Growth and Sexual Abuse

A new kind of power – authentic power – is replacing the old kind of power – external power. Authentic power is the ability to distinguish love from fear within yourself and choose love no matter what is happening inside you or what is happening outside you. External power is the ability to manipulate and control.

From the perspective of external power villains are powerful and victims are powerless. From the perspective of authentic power, the callous lust of one who abuses others to satisfy his (or her) destructive desires and the rage of those who are abused are both experiences of powerlessness. There is no power in abuse or revenge.

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Why the Silence?

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Sexual Assault is a violation that occurs in many different forms with the side-effects lasting a lifetime.

 

So, why does a victim stay silent at all?

 

I think it is easy to look at someone’s situation or circumstance and pass judgments based on what you would do. Because it is easy to say if…  then I would …

 

However, thinking about a circumstance or a situation and playing out the scenario in your head is extremely different than having lived it and experienced it for yourself firsthand.

 

Violations of this degree go far beyond the physical act. The victim is left with permanent emotional, physical, and psychological scars. Meaning that once the act itself is over, it isn’t over for the victim. The victim often re-lives that act repeatedly because of the multiple ways to which the violation impacts them. Leaving them with more than one could imagine, to learn to cope with.

 

Probably one of the most common reasons silence occurs is fear. But fear confines us all in different ways.

 

And a victim stays silent for several other reasons:

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Let's take a look at what happens inside a woman who has been through trauma...

KatieK_inside_trauma

If you've been following the news, a flood of women speaking out on harassment, abuse and rape are making their presence known.


And as a woman who has experienced it,
 
I wanted to offer some thoughts on how we can move through this with grace and really make a shift.


I also wanted to give a little insight into the mental and emotional gymnastics that a woman might go through as she tries to rationalize and accept what has happened.

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Sexual Harassment – Enough Already (my story)

AriellFord_sexual

Bill Cosby, Roger Ailes, Harvey Weinstein, Bill O’Reilly… just a few of the high profile sexual predators who were finally exposed.


Not one of them has really, truly apologized for their horrible behavior and the pain and suffering they have caused.


Weinstein blamed it on the “culture of his time.”  As someone who came of age in this culture, there were many times when my “bosses” came on to me sexually in the workplace.


The first time it happened, I was just out of college, working as a photojournalist for a weekly entertainment paper in Fort Lauderdale.  One day, the boss (whose name I have now forgotten, but I do recall he had a huge beer belly and wore white patent leather shoes) walked into my darkroom which was dimly illuminated by a red safelight.  With a sickening sneer on his face, and while grabbing himself, he asked: “Would you like some of this?” I put my hands in the developer pan and told him he if he took one more step I would throw the acid-based chemicals in his face, which sent him running. (I have no idea if this would have done any damage to him or not). It never occurred to me to quit this job that I loved and there was no one to tell.  It was a small staff, run by his much younger wife.


I thought I handled it pretty well considering….

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