Since They Won't, We Talked to a Therapist About Rob and Chyna

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10:  Blac Chyna (L) and Rob Kardashian arrive for her Blac Chyna's birthday celebration and unveiling of her "Chymoji" Emoji Collection at Hard Rock Cafe, Hollywood, CA on May 10, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo: Gabriel Olsen/WireImage)

Since They Won't, We Talked to a Therapist About Rob and Chyna

The toll that emotional abuse will take on a relationship.

Published July 10th

Queue the look-of-shock gifs, Robert Kardashian and Blac Chyna are splitso — or at least that’s what we can conclude after drama between them reached a fever pitch last week. I'm sure you know what happened by now, but after Rob went on an Instagram shade spree posting rows of screenshots, siphoned videos and diary pages about his relationship with the mother of his infant daughter Dream, social media took flight on an all-out attack on what is considered to be the year’s most obvious relationship outcome. 

Even Snoop Dogg added his two cents into the mix.

But when the dust settles, the reality of the situation is that a family — with a small child — is broken. Fingers can point at Blac Chyna’s sexual history or Rob’s persistence to appease her taste for luxury, but at the helm of the issue is something that is extremely common in a lot of relationships: Good old-fashioned emotional abuse.

Nikita Banks, a Brooklyn-based psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), shed some light on what emotional abuse is all about, especially in relationships where one or both involved parties may not have had the best partnership examples growing up. “Emotional abuse is when you are in a relationship with anyone and they are constantly saying and doing things to undermine your self worth and self esteem,” Banks explains further that this can include intimidation, name-calling, manipulation and emotional unavailability. “Withholding can be emotionally abusive as well.” Someone who is resistant to communicating can make their partner feel a deep sense of neglect and abandonment, especially if they themselves are not emotionally withdrawn. The one-sidedness of one partner trying constantly and another who is pulling away is a sign that the relationship will never quite fit. There are some other signs to look out for in order to avoid a potentially abusive situation.

Early Signs of Abuse

Emotional abuse is the most passive and often overlooked form of abuse. There are no visible scars, there is no hospital visit or broken bones to make evidence of what is happening on the inside. But emotional abuse can create lasting and even lifelong effects to an individual’s self-esteem and mental health. In relationships, emotional abuse can creep in but be quickly excused and labeled as growing pains or typical ups and downs. But while the occasional argument or disagreement is expected in relationships new or old — the frequency and degree of escalation is something that should be taken deadly serious.

Nikita expanded on how emotional abuse can be identified early on if you know what signs to look out for by stating that it can be as simple as taking note of how the relationship makes you feel about yourself. Do you feel more confident without your partner than with them? Are your needs met in the relationship? This isn’t an invitation to start writing off potential partners just because they don’t satisfy your every whim. “Let's be clear,” Banks clarifies, “A lot of relationships we will enter into will have some elements of these characteristics, however the goal in all things is balance.” Keep a close eye on the overall outcomes and how your partner responds to the pushback. When you let them know something they did negatively affected you, is that accepted? Is there an effort to make a change?

In Rob and Chyna’s situation, we all got a glimpse of the early issues even without all the gory details. The making up and breaking up, pulling family members into the drama and the arguments that caused the police to show up were all signs that they weren’t in a mutually compatible situation. 

And Baby Makes Three

It’s one thing to deal with an emotional roller coaster as you navigate the world solo, but once you bring a child into your life your responsibility shifts to the development of a person who will be influenced by every choice you make. The Urban Child Institute reported that children who grow up in unstable home environments have been found to have an increased frequency of speech development delays, impaired cognitive development as well as aggression and anxiety. These issues typically occur in children before they turn three years old.

Aside from the fact that baby Dream will likely grow up and read all about the drama of her parent’s relationship as well as the accusations that her birth was merely an attempt to get back at her brother’s dad, there is something to be said about knowing your parents love each other. Not every family is made up of parents who are still together, but love and respect should still be part of the equation.

Banks is no stranger to the Rob and Chyna beef. She admitted that watching their interactions on TV was hard to handle. “The way she talked to him was appalling yet not uncommon. Their relationship on display was very toxic.” If those of us at home watching were uncomfortable, imagine how the two small children at the center of the storm are likely feeling. No one should endure a relationship that makes them feel unworthy or unimportant, but self-care takes on a whole new role when you have young impressionable children watching your every move.

How to Move Forward

The best solution in an emotionally abusive relationship is to end the relationship — even when you still love each other, that’s a step that has to be taken in order to avoid long-term emotional damage. But in situations like Rob and Chyna, a complete separation may never really be possible. Once you have a child, you are tied to each other for the rest of your lives. Unless serious neglect or physical abuse is proven, most courts will allow supervised visitation at the very least to parents who have proven to be destructive. Most co-parents have to go through some form of transition and healing in order to get along enough to care for their children. How is that even possible when the relationship has been through so much mess?

Nikita suggests therapy for those struggling with co-parent communication. “It is easier to identify issues with an impartial actor,” she insists, “A therapist can help couples outline family goals; navigate issues and teach strategies for positive communication.” Despite therapy being something of a controversial topic in the Black community, awareness of seeking outside help is rising.

Whether your motivator is children or just trying to live your absolute best life, emotional abuse is far too common not to be put on aware. The best rule of thumb overall is to seek personal relationships that lift you, support your goals and ambitions and inspire you to be a better person. Relationships that steep in petty or reactive behavior or incite suspicion or jealousy are not going to help you rise. Hopefully, this is the last bout of drama for the Kardashian/Chyna clan. Two miserable people will never find peace in a vacuum. But with space, family and professional support, we can all hope that they find some balance and move on for good.

Written by Ashley Simpo

(Photo: Gabriel Olsen/WireImage)

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