THE BLOG

Can Relationships Really Make You Crazy?

02/21/2013 05:28 pm ET | Updated Apr 23, 2013

There is a saying that you see really good people at their worst in a divorce case, and really bad people at their best in a criminal case. Unfortunately, too often the "good" and "bad" person morph into the same person during a divorce or tumultuous period of a relationship. It is this "person" whose actions shock a family, community and perhaps even a nation. It is their out-of- control emotional reaction to a relationship gone badly.

Regardless of whether or not Oscar Pistorius is guilty, something obviously went terribly wrong in his relationship with Reeva Steenkamp. Instead of the world marveling at his accomplishments, the world is marveling at what could have caused a global icon to be brought to his knees, and a beautiful woman to be dead.

This is not the first time such an icon has found himself charged with murder or domestic violence. Whether it be Oscar Pistorius, O.J. Simpson or Chris Brown, it is clear that a relationship can incite unrecognizable emotions. However, make no mistake about it, these types of emotions are not reserved for men only. Just look at Martha Perry Evanoff, Dr. Clara Harris, and Phil Hartman's wife, Brynn Hartman.

The question is why? What happens to a person to make them figuratively, if not literally, crazy? Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one partner to gain or maintain power or control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence isn't selective. It affects everyone. While there are instances in which domestic violence is pervasive in a relationship, it is the relationships that appeared "perfect" to the outside world that are the most unsettling.

Whether it is divorce, or the end of a relationship, it is common to feel a complete loss of control. Ultimately, it is the manner in which a partner handles that loss of control that is key. Although there are many who are able to control their emotional reactions, there are many who aren't, and the degree to which a partner may go to feel in control is daunting. Unfortunately, the horrendous acts are not just limited to a partner, but rather can transcend to the children, as evidenced by Josh Powell and Susan Smith.

So, if it is normal to feel a loss of control, why does it cause some people to "snap?" Violent behavior is often the result of the interaction of situational and individual factors. Although substance abuse is not necessarily the cause of domestic violence, there is a statistical correlation between the two. It may also be the result of the environment in which someone grew up, and what that person may have learned to be "appropriate behavior."

Despite the cause, the reality is that the disintegration of a relationship can truly cause someone to act crazy. It evokes unknown emotions and causes foreign behaviors. Whether you are in an abusive relationship, or have real concerns that your partner's behavior could potentially put you in danger, do not ignore the signs. Protect yourself, and your children, if applicable. Educate yourself on the many options available to you. Don't become Oscar Pistorius's girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, or Jovan Belcher's late girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. Don't become a statistic.