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The Bully in Your Relationship

Source: Anne-Renée Testa, Ph.D.

Maybe it's a husband or wife, a partner or someone you are dating, who does something as overt as physically threaten or verbally abuse you.

Perhaps it's more subtle: a quiet criticism that you're doing something wrong, that you should be behaving differently, that you don't measure up, that you just don't understand or love them.

You're being bullied if you've heard comments like these:

Sarcastic:

"Those pants are getting a little tight on you...but I guess you're just too busy to worry about a little thing like how you look."

Comparing:

"If you were willing to stay at home the way John's wife does, maybe our kids would be in the accelerated classes, too."

Guilt-Tripping:

"It looks like I just can't expect everyone to give a hundred percent to relationships the way I do."

Condescending:

"Well, maybe if you paid attention to the news, you'd understand what I was talking about."

Manipulative:

"You don't care about what I want! If you understood me, you'd understand why this is so important to me!"

Threatening:

"If you don't give me what I want, you can hardly blame me if I go looking for somebody who will."

Insulting:

"How can you be so stupid?"

Emotional abuse is far more common than physical abuse - but it's every bit as damaging and painful, and just as difficult to overcome. The Bully in Your Relationship (August, 2007; McGraw-Hill; HC, $22.95) is a sensitive, empowering, step-by-step guide from a nationally renowned relationship coach which will guide readers to stand up to emotional abuse and deal with the bully in their intimate relationships, whether it's a husband, wife, partner, girlfriend, or boyfriend.

What is emotional bullying? It's any repeated behavior that degrades, denigrates, or otherwise makes you feel bad about yourself, ranging from the most blatant insult to the most subtle put-down. Emotional bullying can be:

A refusal to acknowledge your contributions or achievements;
Demeaning you while alone or in front of others;
Withholding affection, sex, or intimacy as punishment
Keeping you low on your partner's list of priorities
Hijacking of domestic issues, from money and food to the kids & social life;
Silent treatment for days or even weeks at a time
Threatening divorce or a split
Flirting with others in your presence
Bursting into vindictive, verbal rages

Dr. Testa uses The ART Method in her practice as a psychologist. It breaks down into three parts:

A - Acknowledge the problem, letting go of denial, justification, and excuses.

R - Reassess your options, looking hard at your present and future.

T - Take action to develop a strategy that will transform your life.

Dr. Testa will teach the reader:

To begin to identify that sick, sinking feeling in their gut that tells them something is terribly wrong;
To take a virtual trip through the mind of the bully to learn why it is happening, what bullying looks like and its effects on the victim;
To recognize their own denial, what they are getting from it, but most significantly, why it must be dealt with;
To reassess their options and strengthen their behavior in the relationship;
To break the victim mode and change the old mindset;
How to start fresh with their partner or walk away from the relationship.

The Bully in Your Relationship is a doctor-tested program

for overcoming the most common form of domestic abuse.

"Deep inside, beyond all the fear and the self-doubt,

you know you deserve better, and that you have the courage to change.

Damn right you do! And together, we're going to make it happen."