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“How Can I Stop Being in Love with Someone who Abuses Me?”

“How Can I Stop Being in Love with Someone who Abuses Me?”

Understanding the root cause of abusive relationships and breaking free


Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D.
Understanding Narcissism



History repeats itself, that is one of the things wrong with history.

If you are still in love with someone who physically and emotionally abuses you, your main problem is your past not your present. It is quite likely that in your childhood, you loved a parent who abused you.

Children love their parents and seek their approval, even when the parent is abusive. Eventually, over time your brain made the connection and love became coupled with abuse. In fact for some people, Love = Abuse.

As one woman said to me: “How will I know if he cares, if he doesn’t beat me?”

Your past connection between love and abuse persisted into the present and is one of the reasons that you still love your abusive mate.

Unfinished Situations Persist in Memory

Gestalt Psychologists Kurt Lewin (1890-1941) and Bluma Zeigarnik (1900-1988) theorized that unfinshed situations from the past press for fulfillment in the present. Bluma Zeigarnik went on to research this topic and published her findings in 1927. This need for closure and its persistence in our mind has come to be called “The Zeigarnik Effect.”

The Relationship “Do Over”

One way to understand your choice of this abusive person and your continued love for him or her is that you are attempting to get closure. Your relationship with a parent (or an important early caregiver) was abusive and unsatisfactory. On an unconscious level, you chose a new person to love who reminded you of your abusive caregiver. This allowed you and your adult lover to recreate aspects of your abusive childhood relationship. Your main desire is not to be abused again, but to have the new relationship turn out better than the childhood one. Subconsciously you believe that, if this new person could love you in the way that your parent did not, you would be able to resolve lingering issues from your traumatic childhood. In essence you were seeking (and still are seeking) a “Do Over” relationship that ends satisfactorily so that you can move on.

This makes it harder to let go of your abusive lover because you had unconsciously chosen this person not just for his or her own charms, but for the similarity between the way the two of you relate to your past relationship with your abusive parent.


Contact Therapy 121 for confiential Counselling via your phone.


How do you stop loving your abuser?

I suggest that you enter psychotherapy and work on your childhood issues with your parents. You are like someone who has caught their coat on a nail in the past and now you cannot go forward without first going back to unhook it. Without working on the underlying source of your problem, even if you get over this person, you may choose another who is just as unsuitable.

Some Steps to Take Now:

Identify the Caregiver: It may help you to reflect on how you have felt during this romantic relationship and compare it to how you felt as a child. This can help you identify the caregiver who first created this pattern of love and abuse.

Replace: When you start longing for your abusive lover, replace his or her face and name with that of the original person (parent or caregiver) who started this whole dysfunctional relationship pattern with you.

Remind: Then remind yourself that your abusive lover is just the stand-in for your parent. Children cannot let go of their parents—but this abusive person is not your parent. You can let go. What your inner child wants is something that your abusive mate can never give you.

Punchline: At first glance it may seem illogical that you still love someone who physically and emotionally abused you. But…if you understand that it was an attempt to finally get emotional closure from a childhood wound, it begins to make more sense.


5 Signs It’s Time to Seek Therapy

5 Signs It’s Time to Seek Therapy

Most people can benefit from therapy at least some point in their lives

David Sack M.D.

Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to be “crazy,” desperate or on the brink of a meltdown to go to therapy. At the same time, therapy isn’t usually necessary for every little struggle life throws your way, especially if you have a strong support system of friends and family. So how do you know when it’s time to see a therapist?

Most people can benefit from therapy at least some point in their lives. Sometimes the signs are obvious but at other times, something may feel slightly off and you can’t figure out what it is. So you trudge on, trying to sustain your busy life until it sets in that life has become unmanageable. Before it gets to this point, here are five signs you may need help from a pro:

#1 Feeling sad, angry or otherwise “not yourself.”

Uncontrollable sadness, anger or hopelessness may be signs of a mental health issue that can improve with treatment. If you’re eating or sleepingmore or less than usual, withdrawing from family and friends, or just feeling “off,” talk to someone before serious problems develop that impact your quality of life. If these feelings escalate to the point that you question whether life is worth living or you have thoughts of death or suicide, reach out for help right away.

#2 Abusing drugsalcohol, food or sex to cope.

When you turn outside yourself to a substance or behavior to help you feel better, your coping skills may need some fine-tuning. If you feel unable to control these behaviors or you can’t stop despite negative consequences in your life, you may be struggling with addictive or compulsive behavior that requires treatment.

#3 You’ve lost someone or something important to you.

Grief can be a long and difficult process to endure without the support of an expert. While not everyone needs counseling during these times, there is no shame in needing a little help to get through the loss of a loved one, a divorce or significant breakup, or the loss of a job, especially if you’ve experienced multiple losses in a short period of time.

#4 Something traumatic has happened.

If you have a history of abuse, neglect or other trauma that you haven’t fully dealt with, or if you find yourself the victim of a crime or accident, chronic illness or some other traumatic event, the earlier you talk to someone, the faster you can learn healthy ways to cope.

#5 You can’t do the things you like to do.

Have you stopped doing the activities you ordinarily enjoy? If so, why? Many people find that painful emotions and experiences keep them from getting out, having fun and meeting new people. This is a red flag that something is amiss in your life.

If you decide that therapy is worth a try, it doesn’t mean you’re in for a lifetime of “head shrinking.” In fact, a 2001 study in the Journal of Counseling Psychology found that most people feel better within seven to 10 visits. In another study, published in 2006 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 88 percent of therapy-goers reported improvements after just one session.

Although severe mental illness may require more intensive intervention, most people benefit from short-term, goal-oriented therapy to address a specific issue or interpersonal conflict, get out of a rut or make a major life decision. The opportunity to talk uncensored to a nonbiased professional without fear of judgment or repercussions can be life-changing.

You may have great insight into your own patterns and problems. You may even have many of the skills to manage them on your own. Still, there may be times when you need help – and the sooner you get it, the faster you can get back to enjoying life.

Source:  David Sack, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, and addiction medicine. As CEO of Elements Behavioral Health he oversees addiction treatment programs at Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu and West Los Angeles, The Ranch outside Nashville, a women’s psychiatric treatment program at Malibu Vista, The Recovery Place in Florida, and Texas drug rehab Right Step and Spirit Lodge. You can follow Dr. Sack on Twitter @drdavidsack.

The Science Of Getting Over Heartbreak

The Science Of Getting Over Heartbreak

By Danielle Braff
Chicago Tribune

Love is an addiction that was biologically designed so that we can mate successfully, said Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, and New York-based author of “Anatomy of Love” who did a study last year linking love to substance abuse.

Unfortunately, like all addictions, a breakup can send you spiraling out of control.

You can’t eat, you can’t sleep, you have obsessive thoughts about your ex, and you’ll do anything to get him or her back, even if it means calling too many times or driving past your ex’s house at all hours of the day. And as soon as you get a response, you swing into euphoria — unless the response is negative, which can whip you back into despair.

“One main region of the brain (referred to as the brain’s reward system) is linked with all addictions — gambling, sex and all of the substance addictions: alcohol, nicotine, heroin and the others,” Fisher said. “That same region of the brain is activated when you’re rejected in love. That’s the biology of it.”

But unlike alcohol or gambling, which a fraction of people are addicted to, we’re all predisposed to love addiction, Fisher said.

“It’s a drive, a basic mating drive,” she said. “It evolved to help us rear our children as a team.”

Unfortunately, when this basic mating drive veers off track via an unwanted breakup for one person, it becomes a physical and emotional pain that you’ll have to deal with sans the help of an AA meeting or a rehab clinic.

But science has found ways to help with breakups. There are things you can do to make the pain go away faster, and there are things you might be doing that make your heartbreak worse.

You might find yourself journaling post-breakup, for instance, but while this seems like a therapeutic way to get all those thoughts out, it could make your heartbreak linger if you’re the type to brood or to ruminate.

Researchers at the University of Arizona found that those who looked for meaning in their relationships by writing in their journals made the least progress with their emotions — especially if they tend to seek a deeper meaning in their breakups. That’s because they continued the saga of their failed relationship through their journal, prolonging their suffering instead of moving on, said David Sbarra, psychology professor at the University of Arizona and author of the 2013 study.

If you do feel a need to journal, however, you should just write about your day. Those in the study who did not mention their breakup did well, Sbarra said. It helped them get back into their normal routine without focusing on their losses.

Talking about the breakup with someone other than your ex from a distanced, calm, rational perspective will also speed recovery, said Grace Larson, who authored a 2015 study on the topic.

“It helps you understand who you are outside of the ex-relationship,” Larson said. They end up using fewer “us” words when they spoke about the relationship, and used more “I” and “me” words.

But the talking shouldn’t go on for weeks, Fisher said.

After you’ve said everything you need to say, it’s time to stop mentioning your ex to anyone, she said.

Since love is an addiction, Fisher recommends using the AA method and treating an ex like something that is to be forbidden at all costs.

“Don’t write, don’t call, don’t show up at various places, don’t ask friends what he’s doing, don’t check him out on Facebook,” she said. “If you’re going to get rid of alcohol, don’t keep a bottle on your desk.”

It’ll be painful, but eventually, you’ll get over your ex. In her studies, Fisher said, they looked at the brain scans of people who were rejected mere weeks ago and those who were rejected months ago — and the brain activity declined as the separation increased, despite the memory of the event remaining strong. That means, she said, that the pain will decrease over time, though no one can definitively say how long it takes, as it varies from person to person depending on the length of the relationship and the flexibility of their emotions.

If all else fails, there’s an app to help.

Los Angeles-based Ellen Huerta founded Mend (starts at $4.99) when she was going through a bad breakup.

“I wanted a personal trainer to help me through a breakup,” Huerta said. Failing that, she wanted something or someone by her side every step of the way.

For the first 28 days of the breakup, Mend offers a heartbreak cleanse, which focuses on your body to help with the withdrawal symptoms, Huerta said.

Each day, it will advise you on how to self-soothe, to focus on your breath. In addition, you can check in and write in the app’s journal.

After you get through the first month, you graduate to the next step in Mend, which focuses less on the breakup and more on rebuilding your sense of self and your future.

“We do trainings about being single and dating and having a healthy relationship practice,” said Huerta, who said she managed to get over her heartache while she was developing her app.

And while she won’t reveal the number of subscribers, she said there are Mend users in more than 150 countries.

“Heartbreak is so universal,” Huerta said.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Month

Since 1949, Mental Health America and our affiliates across the country have led the observance of May is Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. We welcome other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities.

May is Mental Health Month 2018

When we talk about health, we can’t just focus on heart health, or liver health, or brain health, and not whole health. You have to see the whole person, and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together. That’s why this year, our May is Mental Health Month theme is Fitness #4Mind4Body. We’ll focus on what we as individuals can do to be fit for our own futures – no matter where we happen to be on our own personal journeys to health and wellness – and, most especially, before Stage 4.

Learn more about:

As part of our efforts this May, we’re asking you to take the #4Mind4Body Challenge and join Mental Health America as we challenge ourselves each day to make small changes – both physically and mentally – to create huge gains for our overall health and wellbeing. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or visit for the challenge of the day and share your progress and successes by posting with #4Mind4Body.

Prepare yourself to make changes for a healthier lifestyle by using our Change is Hard worksheets.

Visit to see what others are doing as part of the challenge!

The Toolkit

In this year’s toolkit, you will find a range of materials, including:

  • Fact sheets on how mental health is affected by diet and nutrition, sleep, stress, gut health, and exercise;
  • Worksheets on making life changes;
  • A promotional poster, sample social media posts with images, and web banners;
  • A sample press release and a drop-In article; and a sample proclamation for public officials to recognize May as Mental Health Month and the work of local mental health advocates.

Fill out the brief online form to gain access to the toolkit.

Interested in learning more about the brain-body connection? Sign up for MHA’s 2018 Annual Conference, Fit for the Future.

Mental Health Treatment Is A Privilege Many People Can’t Afford

Mental Health Treatment Is A Privilege Many People Can’t Afford

 Minaa B LMSW, Founder of Respect Your Struggle


I previously shared my truth about my battle with depression and self-injury in a piece I wrote titled “An Open Letter to Black Women About Mental Health.” Not only did I openly share my experiences with depression, but I urged other black women to break away from the cultural stigma surrounding mental illness, to rid themselves of the weight that comes with carrying the “strong black woman” title and to seek professional treatment for their struggles.

I took some time out to re-read my letter, and I realized that there is a fundamental piece that was missing. When I wrote it, I felt as if I were hitting the nail on the head, but I wasn’t focused on the foundation that nail was going into. If I am going to address a community to seek professional help, I need to address those who drive the mental health care system to understand how to tend to — as well as make themselves available to — this particular community.

There are so many folks living behind the looking glass who fail to recognize or comprehend the contemporary social problems that people from minority backgrounds encounter just for being human — racism, prejudice, discrimination, criminalization and deep-seated cultural stereotypes, to name a few. These collective societal issues are just as detrimental to our well-being as the “strong black woman” supposition, and such matters are linked to the prevalence of mental illness, particularly trauma, within minority and African-American communities.

As a woman who identifies as African-American and was once diagnosed with severe depression, I experienced several personal barriers to treatment not solely due to shame and stigma, but also due to my lack of knowledge around mental health, the lack of African-American treatment providers within the mental health scope, and most importantly, the cost of mental health services. Studies show that African-American patients are more likely to pursue African-American providers, as their commonality in regards to race helps to create a therapeutic relationship where the client feels accepted and understood, and the provider is more attune to culturally sensitive issues. This cultural match between patient and provider also leads towards a greater outcome for the development and successful completion of treatment goals and greater interactive sessions.

With regards to how race may enhance the therapeutic relationship between African-American patients and providers, there is still a dichotomy between the number of available African-American providers and those who seek treatment. Reported studies found that “black professionals make up only 2.6% of mental health clinicians in the United States, which is low considering that approximately 20% of black Americans seek mental health specialty treatment within a 12-month period.” While access to culturally diverse providers is low, the cost of mental health treatment remains high, which serves as an additional impediment to bridging the gap between the onset of symptoms and accessing professional care.

Studies show that nearly one-fourth of African Americans are uninsured, a percentage 1.5 times greater than the white rate. The average private provider (clinical social workers, psychiatrist, and psychologist) charges between $60-$300 per 45-minute session and works primarily out-of-network. Furthermore, providers typically recommend or mandate weekly sessions to ensure a rapport is continuously being built and so that they can better examine whether the services are proving to be effective for the client. On a monthly basis, mental health treatment alone can accrue an out-of-pocket cost between $120-$1,200.

Within the U.S, of the 34 million people who identify themselves as African-American, 22% live in poverty. African-Americans living below poverty are two to three times more likely to report serious psychological distress than those living above poverty. These individuals face a higher risk for developing mental disorders not solely because of their overrepresentation within the homeless population, but also due to other factors such as higher incarceration rates — African-Americans account for 60 percent of the prison population — and other systems in which they are represented in greater numbers than whites, such as foster care, welfare and an increased exposure to violent crimes.

When a private practitioner sets a rate for $200 for a therapy session, it is easily discernible who his or her target clientele will be. Yes, therapy can serve as a healthy outlet to processing emotions and thus, requires extreme care and attention to the needs of others, but it also takes extreme vulnerability, and when it costs someone that much to be vulnerable, it is simply a privilege that most people in need of mental health services cannot afford.

Providing culturally responsive treatment requires not just being aware of one’s biases and judgments or negative attitudes towards race and cultural stereotypes, but also knowing and understanding the individuals who need access to treatment and choosing to make yourself available to address the needs of those who may come from oppressed or marginalized groups by providing affordable care.

There is also a greater need to increase diversity among mental health providers. Training more African-American mental health workers may decrease the mental health gap correlated to stigma and lack of educational awareness, but this would also require getting to the core of the inadequate educational opportunities available for African-Americans along with the low college acceptance rates and the cost of tuition, which serves as barriers to gaining professional opportunities.

As a social worker myself, I got into this field knowing that this is not a lucrative venture, and I believe there should not be a monetary value placed on the quality of care that an individual receives based on their socio-economical and racial background. The health care system was built to serve the underserved and examine social injustice, yet there are still barriers set in place for those this system was designed for.

As much as I strongly encourage black women (and also black men) to seek professional care and to not be ashamed to be in need of help, I equally strongly ask and encourage the systems at play to provide greater access to the professional care that we need. If we are going to hit the nail on the head, lets make sure it’s not going directly into the coffin.




If you — or someone you know — need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


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