The Codependent Myth

A common myth in abusive relationships is that they are codependent – codependency is a label that refers to people who are chemically dependent on substances such as alcohol and narcotics – so that when they try to quit they suffer traumatic physical symptoms.

Applying that label to human relationships is very misleading. If you feel “addicted” to your partner, you are probably feeling the confusing effects of his inconsistent on again/off again behavior. This is called intermittent reinforcement and is intended to keep you off balance. Gaslighting is another way to keep you off balance – making you doubt yourself and question your sanity.

This irrational behavior is confusing and can keep you stuck in a mental loop. That is where the problem lies – in the abuser’s behavior. The fact is, many women stay in spite of this behavior, not because of it. They suffer a loss of confidence that makes them worry about whether they can survive without their abusive partner

It is important to understand what codependency really is and that it has nothing to do with staying in an abusive relationship. This line of thinking blames the victim and makes her question herself – making it even more difficult to move through the mental fog and leave.

Being clear on the terms codependency and gaslighting can be extremely helpful in identifying what is really going on. Then the responsibility rests on the abuser and not the victim.

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