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Cognitive Dissonance in Abusive Relationships

The concept of cognitive dissonance can help explain a victim of an abusive relationship’s emotional state and psychological motivation. The term suggests that a person is in that severe situation when their actions contradict their beliefs and views. An extended stay in this state ultimately leads to a feeling of discomfort. However, everyone strives to avoid or minimize unpleasant feelings by changing behavior or beliefs (Anderson). Victims of abusive relationships can be in a state of discomfort for a very long time, without getting rid of the dissonance. Thus, they always choose a strategy of changing their beliefs rather than behavior, maintaining psychological dependence on the discomfort source.

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In turn, abusive relationships occur as a result of the emotional dependence of the victim on their partner. Insults, humiliation, and cheating lead to the fact that the victim experiences intense emotional discomfort daily. In my case, being in a relationship with a partner, I constantly tried to rationalize his cheating by the fact that something was wrong in our relationships. My self-esteem suffered greatly from this, and I put all the blame on myself in the end. However, I could not end this relationship because I was afraid of insecurity. However, there is an understanding of the wrongness of the situation; I was no longer able to endure constant unpleasant feelings. Nevertheless, even after that, I was tormented for a long time by the fear of possible loneliness.

In this case, cognitive dissonance is manifested in the inability of the victim of an abusive relationship to end it, despite constant discomfort. In such situation, a person tries to change their view of things, adjust it to the environment, blaming themselves for the wrong behavior, and justifying the actions of another person. The reason for this may be a sense of false security when a person is afraid of losing what they have because of the fear of being alone. However, at some point, behavior change does not alleviate the discomfort, and the victim has to change their behavior and end the relationship. It also becomes a difficult act, but it leads to the disappearance of dissonance. Thus, cognitive dissonance in the case of constant betrayal of a partner manifests itself in the victim’s desire to explain their actions by their own fault.

Works Cited

Anderson, Ryan. “How Cognitive Dissonance Relates to Relationships.” Psychology Today, 2016, Web.

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