Find out if you have a healthy relationship today!

Carrie T. Ishee began her WOW! Women On Writing tour of Seduced into Darkness just two days ago on March 23rd. We are very happy to welcome her here on Choices today. Her story of hope for survivors of abuse will surely captivate our readers.

She has also written a guest post about the signs of a healthy relationship versus a toxic relationship and how to set boundaries to see if a person is safe for you.

Here she is:

A Healthy Relationship versus A Toxic Relationship


Carrie Ishee, M.A, LPCC, LPAT, ATR-BC,PCC, Author of Seduced into Darkness:  Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse

I came to this wisdom when recovering from the psychological and sexual manipulation I experienced when I was a college student suffering from panic attacks and depression.  What was supposed to be a professional, healing relationship was hijacked and turned into an inappropriate personal relationship that focused on his needs, his wants, his desires.  I now support others to develop a healthy sense of self so they can create relationships that are balanced, intimate, and fulfilling.

What are the signs of a healthy relationship versus a toxic relationship?

As the corona virus sweeps the planet, taking out our most vulnerable citizens, we are all forced to slow down, manage our mental and emotional states, and consider others as well as our own well-being. We have the opportunity to turn inward, to self-reflect, to access our deepest selves and the deepest selves of others.

With the pandemic as a backdrop, it is interesting to consider what qualities are essential for healthy relating.  Our quest begins with our own self-awareness.  Are we in touch with our feelings?  What makes us tick?  How do we communicate our needs? How do we handle conflict?  Do we sooth and replenish ourselves or wait for others to do it for us then blame them if we feel bad?

We must cultivate empathy for ourselves as well as others.  As we get to know our inner world, heal our shame, and forgive ourselves, we can also drop behind the eyes of another, to see how they feel, what factors have made them who they are, what their daily struggles are.

Do we have enough ego strength to be humble in the face of our own shortcomings, or are we so fragile we must always be right and deflect concerns coming from others? The quality of humility is essential to healthy relating, and the lack thereof is the hallmark of narcissism, a trait we hear so much about these days. Being able to admit our mistakes and say we are sorry for hurting another is key to intimacy and connection.

Finally, if we are not able to be reliable in the way we show up due to our own internal instability, there is no way we can be steady for another to build a healthy relationship.

So, as we see, healthy relating all begins with our relationship with self.  Therapy and personal growth work increases the capacity within the self to make room for our own and others’ feelings, wants, needs, and requests.  It also helps us develop an independent self who knows where we begin and end.

How do I set boundaries to see if a relationship is good for me?

In most toxic relationships, one person is willing to sacrifice their own needs for their partner’s needs. This person often finds themselves with someone who is addicted in some way or suffering from a high degree of narcissism.  Their thoughts and actions revolve around their partner and they rarely place themselves as their top priority.  This self-sacrificing person (often referred to as co-dependent) continuously crosses their own boundaries, abandoning themselves in the attempt to get what they need, or to control another’s behavior.  The journey to self-care that allows for healthy relationship with others includes:

  1. Prioritize yourself –discover what you need to stay balanced and happy that does not depend upon getting those needs met in the primary relationship. Examples are health and self-care, social and fun time with others, financial independence, career advancement, spiritual growth, family and friends, etc…Ask yourself moment by moment, “What do I need for myself now?”  See how you can give it to yourself first.
  2. Decide what you need in the relationship to prioritize yourself – Do you need regular time with others? Do you need to make agreements around communication? Do you need monogamy?  What are your sexual boundaries? Do you need transparency around finances? Do you need someone to be sober from addictions? Do you need someone who is on a path of self-awareness and growth?
  3. Speak from a place of caring, but stand firm in your boundaries – Speak out your truth of what you need and make requests, but also hear what the other is requesting.

If a relationship can develop into true intimacy, there will be plenty of room to set boundaries to take care of yourself.  If the other person is capable of meeting you with their own self-awareness, empathy, humility, and reliability, it is possible to create an interdependent and healthy relationship rather than an enmeshed, dysfunctional one. Committing to deep personal growth is the key to creating healthy relationships with others.


Book Summary

Seduced Into Darkness: Transcending My Psychiatrist’s Sexual Abuse is a vivid and captivating story of hope for survivors of abuse as well as a case study in a skilled manipulator’s tragic exploitation of his professional power.

This poignant memoir chronicles the traumatic psychological abduction and sexual exploitation of depressed college student Carrie Tansey at the hands of her psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Romano―thirty-one years her senior. For three years, their secret “affair” was carefully calculated and controlled by Romano, as Carrie’s mental and emotional health continued to deteriorate, bringing her closer and closer to the edge.

Their dual-relationship―clinical and clandestine―finally came to light when Carrie’s suicide attempts landed her in a world-renowned psychiatric hospital. Gradually, she began to reclaim her power, reported Romano to the state licensing board, successfully sued him for malpractice, and testified before the state legislature to help pass a law aimed at curbing such abuses.

As Carrie tells her tale, it is a journey paralleling that of the mythical archetype Persephone, the naive innocent who was abducted into darkness, reemerged and regenerated herself, then fearlessly returned to the prison she had fled, this time to help free others. Today, Carrie Ishee is a widely respected art therapist and life coach as well as a teacher specializing in the issues of ethics and boundaries for mental health professionals.

Print Length: 286 Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books
ISBN-10: 1948749483
ISBN-13: 9781948749480
Seduced Into Darkness is now available to purchase at Amazon.comBarnes and Noble, and Thrift Books.

About the Author, Carrie T. Ishee

Carrie Ishee has been a student of healing, human potential, and consciousness for more than 35 years. Her quest to know herself began in college when a severe health crisis compounded by her psychiatrist’s seduction and sexual abuse shattered her physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After doctoral studies in clinical psychology, she worked as a behavioral therapist, pursued a master’s degree in art therapy, and later completed a two-year training program in life coaching. Her work today is focused on helping victims such as she once was break free from the suffocating shroud of trauma.

Follow her on FacebookInstagram, and GoodReads.

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