Abuse Within the BPD/NonBPD Dynamic
Many of those involved in relationships with someone who has BPD or traits of the disorder, have difficulty in priorizing their own safety over the needs of others. It’s hard when you’re living with the craziness and chaos of the disorder to think clearly and to know if what you’re experiencing is abusive. It’s a normal pattern for Non’s to make excuses for those they care about, to minimize the abusive behavior and make it less ugly, demeaning, or damaging than it truly is. To help understand what abuse is, please read the following and answer honestly if these describe your relationship. The following are characteristics of an abusive relationship. If you answer yes to more than two of any of these descriptions, you are most likely in an abusive relationship and need help. You need to get safe immediately. Locate your local shelter and get help. Make your safety and that of your children your most important priority. While we are using “he” for this information, it often may apply to women as well.
1) Push for quick involvement? When you first met the BP in your life, did he move the relationship along very fast? Sweep you off your feet? Did he come on strong, with claims such as: “I’ve never loved anyone else like this before”? Or: “You’re the only person who’s ever understood me.”? An Abuser pressures the new partner for an exclusive commitment very quickly. Did he ask you to marry or move in with him within a few weeks or months of beginning the relationship? Did the intensity of the relationship and it’s high levels of emotion leave your ability to think critically, clouded and ineffective? Did it feel like you’d ‘met the other half of yourself?” Your “soul mate”? Did it feel “too good to be true”?
2) Excessive Possessiveness? Does the BP in your life call you constantly? Visit often or without notice? Attempt to or prevent you from going to work because “you might meet someone else”? Does he ever check the mileage on your car? Listen into telephone conversations without your permission? Insist that you repeat conversations to him verbatim? Accuse you of “hiding something” if you don’t reveal ALL the details of your past and present? Do you get confused between what’s appropriate sharing and what’s not? Does he accuse you of “leading other men on”? Of having affairs? Or other inappropriate relationships?
3) Controlling Behaviors: Does the BP in your life question you incessantly about your activities when you are apart? Does he insist that all your money be in his control? For a variety of reasons? “You aren’t good with money”, or “I’m much better with money than you are.”? Does he limit your contact with friends and family? Or make the consequences of your spending time with them so high that you are unable or unwilling to pay them? Does he accuse you of attempting to control his behavior when you ask him where he’s been or when he’ll be home?
4) Unrealistic Expectations: Does the BP in your life set standards that you find impossible to meet? Does he expect you to be “the perfect” mate in all aspects of life? Does he expect that you will always have the same opinions as he? Vote the same way? Does he make you responsible for meeting ALL his needs while having little respect or paying little attention to your needs and wants?
5) Isolation: Does the BP in your life do his best to isolate you from family, friends, colleagues and others important in your life? Have you reduced or eliminated the activities you used to enjoy because he doesn’t enjoy or doesn’t approve of them? Does he accuse others of being out to “spoil” your relationship? Or of “not liking him” or “finding fault with him”? Does he insist that you carry a pager or cell phone so he can “always get a hold of you”?
6) Blames others for his problems? When things go wrong does the BP in your life always have some excuse or reason that blames others, rather than accepting his responsibility for issues and problems? Does he have a string of short term jobs? Or of being fired repeatedly? When there’s a problem in your relationship, does he always blame you? Does he tell you: “If you would just (insert example here) then we would be just fine”? Are problems in the relationship always about you and never about him?
7) Makes others (including you) completely responsible for his feelings? An abuser will say: “You MAKE me do this, it’s all YOUR fault”. A non abuser will say “I’m angry”. An Abuser may use emotional blackmail to control your thoughts, feelings and actions. “I’ll kill myself if you leave me” or, “I couldn’t survive without you.”
8) Hypersensitivity: Is the BP in your life easily insulted? Does he assume negative intentions on the part of others, including you? Does he often find a way to make the most innocent behavior a personal insult or slight aimed at him? Does he rant or rage about “how unfair everything is” and how he’s “always the victim of some plot or injustice”?
9) Cruelty to Animals and Children: An Abuser will punish those in his power to a degree completely out of context with the offense. Does he expect children to behave in ways that are completely beyond their ability or age? Do you often find yourself getting in between the child and the adult? Or force you to remain silent when he’s out of control and over-disciplines a child? Does he ever get too rough and injure children while ‘playing’? Does he injure animals and pets? Does he take pride in stories of excessive cruelty from his childhood or adolescents directed towards others, children, pets?
10) “Playful” use of Force During Sex: Does he enjoy putting you in positions of weakness, or forcing you down, refusing to listen to you if you are being hurt, or feel uncomfortable during sex? Does he use threats, physical force or coercion to get you to do things during sex that you find uncomfortable, unnatural or frightening? Does he encourage you to “play act” fantasies of rape during sex? Does he have fantasies of hurting or killing someone during sex?
11) Verbal Abuse: Does the BP in your life use words as weapons to hurt and wound you? Does he criticize how you cook, clean, dress, parent, or any other activity? Does he curse at you, call you names, keep you awake for long periods when he is aware that you need to get up in the morning for work, school or children? Does he make ugly remarks and later say it’s okay, he was “only kidding”, or “what’s the matter with you, can’t you take a little joke?” or “Gee you’re SO sensitive!”
12) Rigid Sex Roles: Does the BP in your life expect you to do all the cooking/cleaning, parenting, act in a role of a servant, remain at home and not work or have outside interests? Does he expect you to wait on him hand and foot?
13) Sudden Mood Swings: Does the BP in your life switch from reasonable and rational to screaming and raging over trivial incidents? Or when he’s had a bad day at work? Is it always your fault? Does he rage for extended periods of time? Hours? Days? Does he then promise “never to do it again”? Does he promise to do “anything” if only “you’ll forgive him”?
14) Physical Abuse: Has the BP in your life ever hit you? Slapped you? Pushed or shoved you? Bounced you off a wall or door? Pushed you down the stairs? Pinched you and left bruises? Refused to allow you to leave a room or your home? If so, you need to get safe immediately!
15) Past Battering: Does the BP in your life have a history of convictions for assault, domestic or family violence or a criminal record for violent behavior, while claiming it was “the other person who made them do it.”? Does he claim his ex partners were “emotionally violent, have stalked him, or were crazy”?
16) Threats of Violence: Does the BP in your life make threats? Does he threaten to hurt or destroy things that are valuable to you? Does he threaten your children, family, friends or you? Threaten to take your children away from you if you should separate? Does he then dismiss his threats with comments like: “Everyone talks like that when they’re mad”, or “I didn’t really mean it, besides, you made me so angry I had no choice.”? Does he engage in high risk taking behaviors such as speeding, especially with others in the car?
17) Frightening attitudes towards women and/or guns: Does the BP in your life think that women are inferior beings? That if a woman is raped, that “She asked for it”? Does he have access to firearms? Hang around with others who share his attitudes? Tell jokes that make fun of women or minorities? Does he threaten you or himself with firearms? If so, please go directly to our Safety page. Get help and get safe immediately.
18) Alcohol or other Substance Abuse Issues: Does the BP in your life have a drinking problem? Does he drink and get drunk often? (Once a week or more?) Does he use ‘recreational’ drugs? Or abuse prescription pain killers or mood altering drugs? Does he use this as an excuse for violence or other abuse?
You and your children have the right and obligation to be free from abuse and violence. No one has the right to hurt or harm you. Please take your safety seriously. Please get safe, get help and stay safe.
You are only a victim while the abuse is happening. Once it’s over, you are a survivor. You can choose to protect yourself and your children. You are not responsible for what the person with BPD does. You ARE responsible for what you choose to do.
Many of those who’ve been abused stay because they think that in leaving the relationship, they must abandon the abuser or the marriage. They stay and continue the Cycle of Abuse by allowing themselves to be abused, and by allowing their children to see that abuse. Children who grow up with an abusive parent will most often continue that abuse in their own families as adults.
Most of those who’ve been abused don’t want a divorce or end to the relationship. They want the abuse to stop. Being in a relationship with someone who has BPD or traits of BPD adds more layers of difficulty to this already complex and difficult dynamic.
Leaving an abusive relationship does not mean that you are ending it. Nor does it mean that your partner cannot change. It is important to know that change almost NEVER happens while the victim remains in the relationship. Most abusive relationships cannot be healed while the parties live together.
It takes outside resources, therapy, often the courts involvement and court ordered therapy and treatment for abuse for an Abuser to make the changes needed to stop the abuse.
Most of those who’ve been abused cannot heal alone. Without serious therapy and counseling, they will only meet another abuser and continue the cycle. Care about yourself enough to get safe, get help and being the journey to healing, change and healthier relationships.