Fifty Shades of Emotional Abuse in American Households

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The extremely popular series, beginning with “Fifty Shades of Grey,” has some interesting real-life parallels that women seem to be relating to – not so much in a literal sense, necessarily, but in a symbolic sense. Collete Segalla, a psychotherapist with Lepage Associates in Durham, NC, uncovered the very real roles of dominance and submission played in marriages all over the world in an exclusive interview with Charlotte divorce lawyer Lee Rosen on the popular StayHappilyMarried.com podcast.

Stay Happily Married contains a series of informational podcasts by North Carolina divorce lawyer Lee Rosen.
An emotionally abusive relationship is one in which a genuine, authentic engagement with one another is lacking.

People don’t generally enter into dominant and submissive roles voluntarily, says psychotherapist Collette Segalla, because our values as a culture generally focus on equality and free will. In an exclusive interview with Charlotte divorce lawyer Lee Rosen, Segalla details how emotional abuse often leads to the acceptance of these roles – and why that sort of acceptance is never healthy within a marriage.

“An emotionally abusive relationship is one in which a genuine, authentic engagement with one another is lacking. Instead, there is inequality. There is competition. There is manipulation and hostility… It’s a general pattern of one person not recognizing the other person as an individual, and not recognizing the value of the other person and his or her thoughts; their feelings; and their behaviors; what they’re doing,” says Segalla, drawing a parallel between the physical domination in the popular book series and the emotional domination that occurs in many American households.

In addition to inequality, competition and manipulation, Segalla says there are several types of emotional abuse that occur within marital relationships that can lead to physical abuse, cites several scenarios during the interview and provides fresh insight on how couples dealing with emotional abuse can recover and rebound.

“A lot of times in relationships where they [partners] become emotionally abusive, both parties are kind-of trapped in that dynamic and even the person who is abusing may not understand just how his or her behavior is abusive… If the person who is being abused learns how to be clear and consistent with boundaries, and the person who is abusing learns to respect these boundaries, and has a desire to adjust the dynamic, then things can change,” says Segalla.

Segalla and Rosen also discuss what unwittingly submissive spouses should do when they discover they’re unhappy in their roles during the 20-minute podcast, creating hope for couples despite the challenges they’ve faced.

StayHappilyMarried.com is home to a weekly podcast hosted by Lee Rosen that features both local and national professionals with the goal of helping couples face tough marital challenges. Recent episodes include “Lessons Learned from TV Lovers: Improving Your Marriage with Television” and “Nickel and Dimed: Planning Your Financial Life Together.”

About Rosen Law Firm

With offices in Charlotte, Raleigh and Chapel Hill, Rosen Law Firm uses cutting-edge technology to keep lawyers connected to clients in groundbreaking ways. Rosen Law Firm provides several services, including divorce, alimony, custody, property distribution, separation agreements, and domestic violence relief.

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