• Dr. Keisha

Mixed Messages…


A little girl and boy are playing on a playground.  The little boy starts to yell at the little girl and call her names.  The next day he pulls her hair and throws stuff at her as he sits behind her in the classroom.  The day after that – he pushes her.  When the little girl tearfully tells her teacher (or her parents) about what happened; she is told “He is just doing that because he likes you.”

 Instead of just telling the little girl the truth (the boy is engaging in inappropriate and violent behavior) we convince the little girl that he likes her.  Not only is this message totally baffling to young girl; it sends a counterproductive message about how men and women should engage one another.  It sends a message to the young girl that violence and/or aggression is an acceptable expression of love and affection.  To the young boy, it sends the message that it is acceptable to be violent and/or aggressive – AND – he does not have to do anything to change it. As a matter of fact, he will learn that others will actually begin to accommodate and make excuses for these behaviors; which further minimizes the need for change.

Now this little girl is all grown up and still can’t shake the belief that when he yells, curses, hits, stalks, kicks, withholds finances or affection – that it is out of love. She continues to make excuses for his behaviors (he didn’t mean it, he’s just stressed, he is a good provider).  All of which sends the message that these behaviors are okay!  The truly unfortunate theme within this scenario is that her need to be loved (and fear of being alone) outweighs her need for emotional and physical safety.

This blog does not just apply to women.  Men also need to be clear about what they need love to look and feels like for them.  They need to be aware that if she is cursing, throwing, hitting, demeaning or otherwise engaging in emotional/physical violence – that may not be love.  However, I will focus on this more for the men in a separate blog – with a particular focus on the use of the ‘silent treatment’ as an emotionally abusive tool! 

In summary, relationships are designed to feel good – simple!  I have never heard anyone say that violence feels good.  Love benefits all involved and yet I have yet to hear how both partners benefit from relational violence.  So if you have (or are) experiencing anything similar to those behaviors listed above; you may want to look at what is preventing change in this area of your life.  You may want to ask yourself if these behaviors are acceptable for you, and if not, begin thinking about how you can create a different path in this area of your life.  There is truth in the saying “if you do what you have always done; you will get what you have always gotten”.  So now you just have to decide what you are going to do different.

Additional information regarding abuse in relationships can be found at the links below.

http://eqi.org/eabuse1.htm#Types of Emotional Abuse

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