One thing about abusive relationships that is widely misunderstood is the effect it has on the sense of self. This is seen in the typical questions abuse survivors are asked: Why don’t you leave? Why do you let this happen? Why is it still affecting you so much? Why can’t you get over it? What people don’t understand is that by the time you realize the abuse is happening, there’s often very little you left.
Abusers systematically dismantle your identity piece by piece. They aren’t interested in dealing with real people, so they make sure that you retain as little personhood as possible. They degrade and belittle. They minimize your accomplishments and strategically target everything that makes you an individual. They manipulate your time and attention so that your thoughts are always focused on them. They leave you wondering why they behave the way they do, when they’re going to blow up next, what you can do to prevent it. You’re hypervigilant, always sensitive to the slightest shift in their mood.
As time goes on, you may even begin to relinquish parts of your life willingly. Maybe you stop painting so much because you notice that every time you do it seems to accelerate the abuse cycle and cause blow ups to happen more quickly. Maybe you stop wearing your favorite dress because it’s just not worth the disapproving looks. Maybe you stop visiting your family and friends so much because it’s too difficult and humiliating to talk about your life, or maybe it’s to save you from the inevitable accusations or silent suspicion when you get home. Whatever it is, slowly but surely, the things that made you unique fall away, and you’re left wondering what exactly is left of you.
Luckily, astrology offers a way to understand abusive relationships. What’s even better, it offers a way out.
Do you know someone in an abusive relationship? Have you been there yourself?