The analogy is well known. Some of us even call our coworkers or bosses my “work-wife” or “work-hubby”, but there is more to it than just the awkward humor shared in close quarters within an office. When a relationship goes bad, it’s time to start packing. We should always be helpful with friends who are thinking about leaving their work because of abusive or bad relationships. At the risk of angering those unfortunate enough to have been involved in an abusive relationship with a loved one, let’s take a minute to compare one bad situation to another. A bad spouse or partner is similar to a bad relationship with your boss. It is worth a look at the similarities and differences by using one of the very best guides to getting out of abusive love (http://www.abusivelove.com). You be a judge of how big the differences are between the two.
A quick google search for “abusive relationships” will bring you pages devoted to helping partners out of romantic dead-ends.
Let’s take a look at http://www.abusivelove.com/AbusiveLove_3_1.htm#Section_3.1 and reprint their “Ten Signs of Relationship Abuse”:
- Rick Doble’s personal relationship test: How do you feel when you are around the other person?
Do you feel good about yourself? Or do you find that you are thinking angry thoughts? Are you a little anxious? Are you at peace? Pay attention to all your feelings both positive and negative. Notice I am not asking how you feel about the other person but about yourself when you are with that person. In my experience this tells you everything. If your feelings are markedly negative and different from your usual sense of yourself, then something is probably wrong.
- You cannot shake the feeling that something is wrong, but you cannot put your finger on it. You are often on edge; you find that you are censoring your behavior to avoid a conflict. You feel that you never know when the next fight will start or what will cause it to start. The feeling is of walking on egg shells.
- You have a feeling of being trapped, of frustration, of being locked into something that you are not happy with (but not your job or your life situation).
- You have a feeling of being distorted or twisted. You have a sense that the person you really are is being changed and twisted by the relationship into someone else.
- You have a feeling of being drained, tired and exhausted. You have to do most of the work, either physically or emotionally, much of which may be avoiding potential blow-ups with the abuser. It takes a special kind of person to help others get out of abusive relationships. People who are interested in helping others may consider online social work programs.
- You have a feeling that your needs are not being met — that you are working hard to satisfy someone else, but things you want are not being addressed. In a sense the other person has gotten you to believe that your needs are met if you do the things that he/she wants. The other person wants you to be satisfied with this and forget about yourself.
- You feel incomplete around that person. You cannot express your full range of emotions or you would be afraid or embarrassed to express these emotions around that person. You might be afraid that he/she would make fun of you or criticize you or tell you to act differently. At the same time you do not have a problem showing these different sides of your personality to friends and colleagues. Note: These emotions do not have to be negative; they might be playful, silly, childlike, for example, or they could be intellectual or gregarious.
- Your friends like you, support you and tell you that you are a good person but the other person in your life tells you that you are worthless, insensitive, controlling and misguided. You can talk openly with others and feel at ease. When you get home,however, you feel nervous, guarded and ill at ease.
- You feel helplessness because you cannot respond to the other person’s attacks on you. While you would like to respond, the other person has convinced you that it is pointless because he/she is always right or is too sensitive and will crumble (yes, this really really happens), that he/she has a right to attack you but you do not have a right to attack him/her, or that he/she is superior to you and you are inferior — and the list goes on and on.
- The other person avoids true communication. When you try to have an honest conversation, he/she will not answer your questions, distort things that have happened in the past, lie, leave sentences half finished hoping that you will complete them (statements like “oh, you know…”). He/she may become quite angry when you try to get to the bottom of a problem by insisting on a thorough discussion. At this point he/she may accuse you of being abusive, of pushing too hard or of being controlling.
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