We’ve been down the path of choosing recovery and then being beaten down by the people in the world who haven’t chosen recovery before. Some may even call that “life.” Those people are the ones that haven’t chosen recovery.
And fighting for your rights as a person, your basic needs, and standing up for yourself against those people comes at a huge price. However costly it may be though – the payoff is remarkable.
The cold hard truth of the society that we built is that it has normalized abuse.
The fiber that holds it together is based on normalizing abuse. It’s not just normalizing abuse on women by shifting blame and telling them not to ruin their assaulter’s life over a mistake – it’s also normalizing abusive behavior from people, and it’s most often normalizing the notion that the way you communicate can’t be abusive.
After spending a few years working with people independently in their business – we noticed something. Nearly every one that’s “making it” in society and following all the rules – thinks that abusive communication tactics are normal and fine. Now I’m not going to lie – I (Lydia) have since fired all of those clients because it’s not acceptable in any setting.
Communication tactics that are abusive are not acceptable in any situation.
And we are working on not changing acceptable behaviors to accommodate unacceptable ones. For some we guess it’s about superiority – having control over a conversation and sometimes another entire person-hood. For others – it’s a defense mechanism that don’t see a need to change. I mean “you knew they were an asshole when you met them.” Right?
Those tactics now send us some pretty big and flashy signals. Those people, no matter what they say, are choosing to be an abuser. They may still be in denial and not yet ready to accept they should change – but the moment they have been notified of the abuse – they then become responsible for attempting to discover a few things about themselves.
But abusers don’t like to be told they are abusive.
And generally they don’t take it well. In our experience, they usually take it in a few ways, and often in more than one of the following ways – but in phases. Sometimes, when the trigger is big enough it seems, they react using all the ways at once.
Tell you that you are abusive.
In this response, they take no responsibility for their actions and instead “fight back.” It’s important for us to accept that we also did and said some abusive stuff – which is very likely for us. But also to acknowledge that doesn’t mean we deserved what we got. I’ve found that when asked, the abuser often can not identify anyway that you have done that but just that they feel that way. And as valid as all feelings are – when facts are checked – sometimes you have to match how you feel with the reality of the situation – and that’s what those who have chosen to not recover fail to do.
Deny that their actions are abusive.
Typically, it’s a lie and this is when defending their position comes in. While not always, usually it’s blatantly obvious that what they said or did was abusive – but they don’t like the way being told about it makes them feel. Usually this results in them blaming the person who labeled the abuse accurately as the reason for their feeling – instead of the abusive action being the source of them feeling that way. When that’s the case – it’s a sign that the abuser still feels like the abusive response is appropriate – their tune usually changes later to keep their victim around.
Tell you that what you’re concerned about “shouldn’t be a big deal”
This is because they don’t think it’s a big deal – but no one who denies they are being abusive will think the abuse is a big deal. While we are all responsible for how we act when we are triggered, an acceptable way to do that is to express your concerns and talk about them. When met with – “well that’s not even a big deal” the victim, who likely rehearsed what to say for hours, is then left feeling like EVERYTHING that they have to say or feel about that – isn’t a big a deal or worth bringing up.
Diverting the attention away from the abuse
Often when called out for being abusive, abusers will avoid admitting what they have done by shifting the focus of the conversation from the abuse to the “issues” they see being the problem which resulted in their abuse. This is part of the cycle that we have experienced time and time again. It usually leaves the victim feeling like they need to change something in order to not over react and also change something to make the abuser more comfortable.
The hardest part of getting out of this cycle eventually becomes trying to differentiate reality from emotions.
When someone consistently re-frames or restates how they took what you said as what you said – and then yells at you when you tell them that isn’t true, it can really keep you from standing up for yourself – and make it impossible to express emotion or needs. I swear it’s some serious mind tricks – because eventually the victim truly believes that they are the abuser and not entitled to basic decency that all humans should receive.
But that’s the way that manipulative people gain control – with a long term game of carefully calculated moves that will always lead to the outcome they want. That’s why when you start to catch onto their behaviors – shit gets worse. and fast. They will always maintain control. That’s what they will do – using every possible tactic to do so.
Sadly, manipulative people have the ability to adapt to their victims. That enables them to know which card to play – a tactic they’ve used for survival as a basic coping mechanism for most of their life – usually. After the abuse has stopped – the abuser will then attempt to control how the victim sees them after the abuse and what perception of the abuse the victim has.
Abusers keep victims engaged by manipulating them into believing they aren’t an abuser.
If you feel like you’re being abused by a partner, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, or a stranger – you are not alone. It can be hard to sort out reality from perception especially when emotions are heightened. With an abuser around, perception of the victim often becomes skewed.
When dealing with an abuser, it’s important to not keep silent. Stand up for yourself and let the abuser know you won’t tolerate their actions. If you are too afraid to tell the abuser they are being abusive, talk to someone that you trust about what is happening. When an abuser attempts to distort your reality – turn to your allies to help check the facts. For us – we need to journal first so we don’t let our emotions fog the story we tell. Some times we paint a picture of abuser that isn’t 100% accurate if we haven’t fully evaluated our role yet.
Protecting your energy from an abuser takes diligence.
If you begin to notice signs of abuse, don’t wait. Hesitation only provides for an additional opportunity for abusive patterns to reoccur. Cutting ties with abusers never really goes smoothly as they are often dependent upon the relationship with the victim for something, even if it’s only attention. Whoever the abuser may be, partner, mother or boss – there is a way out from under the abuse and you are not alone.
When terminating toxic relationships it can often feel like there will be a big hole in the victim’s heart. That’s because there will be – the abuser has taken up residence and set out to make the victim feel useless. This allows a ton of fear to often keep the victim from seeking help or talking about the abuse.
When dealing with abuse and feeling trapped – remember to remind yourself that you are resourceful, you are capable and you are worthy of feeling safe.
As always – feel free to contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on our contact page if you seek to terminate toxic relationships and need guidance.