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Published:August 22nd, 2009 17:08 EST
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships:  What are the Consequences?

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships: What are the Consequences?

By Roya Rohani Rad, MA, PsyD

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationship

In a relationship, whether it is a romantic one or parent-child or any other type, when there is any form of neglect or abuse, from mild to severe, emotional, physical, or even sexual, there are consequences. Abuse or neglect by a family member seems like a betrayal of trust and an intrusion of boundaries, which may damage the feelings of having a safe environment.

The fact we should consider is that abuse or neglect does not, inescapably, lead to psychological and emotional issues, and there are many cases of people who have experienced these and have been able to find helpful resources and healthy lifestyle patterns to overcome these difficulties.

There are a combination of factors, like predisposed personality traits, other support systems, and coping skills used by the individual to overcome these issues, which can change the outcome of the abuse or neglect. Many individuals who have experienced neglect or abuse are able to live a healthy and balanced life. But, for some, it may have intense outcomes that can lead to problems for the rest of their lives.

For example, feelings of powerlessness, loss of control, guilt, shame, isolation, loss of trust, which may lead to further problems in interpersonal relationships and social functioning, depression, low self esteem, dissociative symptoms, flashbacks and nightmares, and physical symptoms. In addition, self-destructive behaviors like smoking, drug abuse, unsafe and impulsive sex, getting involved in abusive, manipulative, and/or controlling relationships, alcohol abuse, and eating problems can be some of the consequence.  In addition, sometimes individuals with a history of childhood abuse or neglect may be unable to form intimate and trusting relationships with others.

We, as humans, make self-regulating adjustments as a result of the overall situation of life. At some point, we might realize our personal responsibility, related to the situations surrounding our lives, after becoming more aware. At other times, one may get stuck in the denial phase and not become aware of his or her own responsibilities, therefore blaming everyone except himself or herself. Yet, sometimes, we may not have any responsibility in what we experienced.

One factor to acknowledge is that we`re all trapped in webs of relationships. Surroundings affect us, and we affect our surroundings, one way or another, directly or indirectly. To become more aware of our state of being and our relationship with our surroundings, we have to learn to experience the present moment. We also experience our surroundings based on our old attitudes. One has to learn to find a balance between what`s happening in the context of the process, rather than content.

One has to find a middle ground between actions, thoughts, feelings at the present time, and what might be, was, should be, or ought to be. Awareness is, again, the key. It means that what we perceive, feel, and how we behave are separate from how we interpret, explain, and judge the distinction between our direct experience and secondary (indirect) interpretation. By learning to accept, it gets easier to let go of past baggage and work on them. 

Carrying these baggages makes it hard to walk throughout life. We have to get them off of our shoulder or the burden will become unbearable.  We have to understand that as adults we have much more control over our life than we may think, we just have to come to that realization and take steps to find solutions for the problems we face.

Source: Roya Rohani Rad, MA, PsyD