Last of the Five Types of Abuse: The Codependent Type

Domestic abuse is quite common in our society: it is to be expected that domestic abuse will affect you or someone close to you at some point in your lifetime. Being prepared to effectively deal with abuse starts with awareness and an expectation that “people have issues.” This is why it is important to recognize the Five Types of Abuse (as well as the red flags for identifying a possible abuser).

This article explains the fifth type, the Codependent Type. For information about the previous four types click one of the links in the list of Abuse Types given below. Being prepared to encounter and better respond to abusers will help prevent you and your loved ones from suffering a lifetime of suffering and torment.

For reference, here are the 5 Abuse Types:

  1. The Cycle of Violence Type
  2. The Controlling Type
  3. The Sadistic Type
  4. The Stalking Type (when not in a formal relationship)
  5. The Codependent Type

The Codependent Type

Abuse can take on many forms, sometimes even combining more than one, and not all of them can be seen by the bumps and bruises on one’s physical self. The Codependent abuser will show their colors in more subtle ways, for instance via substance abuse. About 20% of the couples at domestic violence shelters are involved in habitual alcohol or drug use. These "Codependents," also known as “Substance Abusers,” "Enablers," and “Addicts,” consist of a relationship where both partners’ lifestyle choices and behavior patterns include acquiring or using drugs or alcohol for happiness. The abuse brought about by a codependent type can be conditional or habitual, depending on the circumstances. Conditional abuse happens when there is an event or activity that leads to the abuse, such as extreme or non-common stress, or intoxication or inebriation that is beyond normal. Habitual abuse usually occurs more regularly, with the abuse taking place during normal and frequent levels of intoxication or inebriation.

The problem with these abusers is that they are often in a state of intoxication during virtually every waking hour of their day. Even after "being clean" for a period of time, the influence of drugs may still be affecting mental abilities and perceptions, even years after being high.

Generally, the Codependent Type makes an announcement regarding their co-dependency almost immediately upon meeting someone for the first time. Statements like “I came to the club tonight to get drunk,” or “I am going to get so high today,” and “Hi, my name is Bill, and I live for pot” are all typical affirmations that some form of chemical dependency reigns supreme. This seems to be a mechanism to attract similarly codependent personalities and repel all others. It is like an announcement to each person they meet saying “My priority is meeting my chemical needs and everything in my life is based on this truth-- you too?”

The good news with this type is that treating the addictive disorder may help cure “partner abuse” if the substance abuse has not been long-term. Many of these victims are in drug rehab clinics, participate in Twelve Step programs, or are homeless as opposed to protected in domestic violence shelters. While an estimated one in five of the victimized female population experience “Codependent Type" abuse, there are certainly many more who are in rehab for addiction or who choose to resolve chemical dependency before seeking help for domestic issues.

Even in a domestic violence shelter or rehab, codependents seem to immediately seek out new partners that they have come across outside the shelter to regroup with. In days, or sometimes hours, after they separate from a partner, they often find a new partner with the same drug or chemical dependency and temperament as their former partner. This indicates that the co-dependency is emotional as well as chemical.

Forming relationships

Why would a person choose to form a relationship with someone who has psychological or emotional issues? Some would say that abusive behavior is common and to be expected. Many American adults have some form of emotional or mental challenge, and this would eliminate an opportunity to engage with a fair amount of the U.S. population, including many worthy partners. Also, many of those choosing to engage in a relationship are impaired in some way themselves. Not all forms of impairment negatively impact relationships. So the real question is whether a cognitive situation is negative or neutral.

It is common for many former victims to continue to seek out new abusers and to look forward to participating in the Cycle of Violence. So, while there is a fifty-fifty chance each relationship is with a generally unimpaired person, some victims are drawn to new partners with negative traits. It is also common for those who are accustomed to being around people with emotional and psychological challenges, to find companions suffering similar or identical impairment.

Others, previously abused or convinced that they are a victim, gravitate towards abusers and sadistic/deviant behavior. For many people, suffering from abuse is not a choice but rather the norm to be expected, because they are not aware of the cycles that they are experiencing.

Leaving an abusive relationship can include the following obstacles:

  • Fear
  • Guilt
  • Culture
  • Social Norms
  • Love
  • Lack of Options
  • Children
  • Lack of Support
  • Victim Blaming
  • Physical Isolation
  • Denial
  • Financial Dependence
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Immigration Status
  • Shame and Blame
  • Stalking and Harassment

There are many powerful reasons why participating in an abusive relationship is not recommended. For those who continue to find abuse unconsciously, reviewing negative aspects consciously may sometimes help illustrate the destructive ways abuse can affect their lives, as well as the well-being of their families:

  • Loss of independence and self-esteem
  • The loss and destruction of property
  • Segregation of victims from family, friends, and faith
  • The torture and killing of pets
  • The expenses of legal support
  • Permanent mental issues and long-term anxiety
  • The physical and emotional torture of children
  • Children being taught to be a victim, an abuser, or both
  • Physical violence, scars, physical disfigurement, and possibly being crippled
  • Fear of Death

Abusive personality combinations

If you have added the percentages of each Abuser Type (excluding the Stalking type) from the previous posts in this blog series on the types of abuse, you would see that they equal greater than 100%. That is because most abusers exhibit several forms of abuse simultaneously. Only about 20% of abusers exhibit just one abusive personality type. About 80% of abusers employ combinations of abusive manifestations. It can probably be assumed that, most of the time, an abuser will have behavior that matches more than one type in our list. So, if you see evidence of one, be aware there might be other types lurking beneath the surface.

With developing brains, hormonal changes, disorders, syndromes, and complexes sprinkled throughout mankind, it is small wonder that we function as well as we do as society. However, despite all of this, we find a way. In our journey through this life, many of us will encounter an abusive situation in one form or another, and when we do, we may not always understand what is happening or how to help the situation. Educating yourself on the different types of abuse and their affects, will help you to better comprehend the complexities of these disorders and find a clear path towards transforming them.

Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you.

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