| By Dr. Gelasia Marquez

He's abusive, she is making a mistake!

My friend is reconciling with an abusive boyfriend. How can I help her avoid this mistake?

The dynamics of abusive relationships are not always clear for the person involved. Often they make excuses or misinterpret violence, possessiveness, or anger as an expression of love. That is why only professionals trained in this field can have successful interventions with both the abuser and the victim.

The first step in getting out of an abusive relationship is to realize that you have the right to be treated with respect and not to be physically or emotionally harmed by another person. God expects us to love one another as ourselves – we therefore must not allow ourselves to be abused.

I suggest talking with her about the importance of mutual respect. Respect in a relationship means that each person values who the other is and not only understands –  but would never challenge – the other person’s boundaries.

Let her also know that you are there if she thinks her boyfriend is trying to control her, make her feel bad about herself, isolate her from the rest of your world, or – this is a big one – harm her physically or sexually. Then it’s time for her to get out, fast.

Dr. Gelasia Marquez is a psychologist and family counselor.