Defeat Abusers Without Even Fighting
If you have suffered abuse by family, friends, or acquaintances I’m very sorry about that. It’s way more common than people will admit to you so I can imagine that in your struggle to understand it you will feel alone, confused, and scared. Those are all healthy feelings to experience when in proximity to someone who is abusive. Below are some ways that helped me deal with abusive assholes from my past.
I think the first step can be to recognize the patterns of abuse. It can often start when people disagree about some topic and things escalate into lies, manipulation, yelling, and hitting. How do you feel after that interaction? These foul situations can leave the sensitive among us feeling violated, confused, and wondering what could have been done to change the situation. There is also this concept of self attack where the abuser has tried to get us to believe we are the one at fault for the negativity of the situation as if that were possible. It’s extremely helpful to notice how we feel during and after the confrontations occur and if it’s safe enough to keep written journal of our take on the events.
(As an aside if you do keep notes about your experience you don’t have to share them with anyone. It’s for your own processing of difficult events and to help recognize patterns. If you have snooping and intrusive people around it may not be a good idea to keep notes where they can find it. A friend recently suggested that which I didn’t consider before.)
Children have no possibility of avoiding parental abuse and the abuse by proxy that parents will allow of others. For the young all I can offer is my sympathy and hard work to help adults out there process the effects of abuse. However, as adults we have the power to choose who we want to interact with. It can be very helpful to look inside at what is motivating us to be in proximity to abusive individuals but without judgment. There is reason but attacking ourselves will not help us get to it. If we gently try to uncover reasons why we are putting ourselves in danger, we can use that information to stop it in the future.
People who exploit and abuse others get away with it because there are no consequences. They will usually have someone dependent financially in order to have a constant source of entertainment and a victim for abuse. It’s not always the case but it could be very helpful to ask the question “Am I financially dependent on this person that I am having difficulty with?” If the answer is yes and you work to become financially independent do they suddenly change to be very nice and cooperative?
Now comes the hard part. Are you allowed to create a rule which states that nobody can speak with you in an abusive way AND that they must communicate directly, without lies, and without manipulation? Then what happens if you steadfastly enforce the rule and never back down? That can be a terrifying thing! Being assertive is positive as an adult and it helps others know your limits. Abusers like to enact unjust restrictions on your behavior, do not recognize boundaries, and will never allow you to apply a rule back to them. What would happen if you said “If you’re going to speak to me like that then we will not have this conversation.” to the other person?
People who are cunning and seek hierarchical dominance over us are playing out a sick fantasy and trying to cast others as actors in a drama they are creating in real life. They view other people as suckers to be coaxed into playing a part, like an actor, in the movie they are producing. I don’t want to oversimplify this but if you refuse to play a part in their fantasy you will see them have a tantrum or just get bored with you. The relationship will end when they can no longer use you as a dumping ground for their mental illness.
Can’t we change them to be nicer? What if I don’t want the relationship to end and I want to help the other person see the abuse and stop it? I have put a massive amount of thought and energy into reforming abusive people and trying to cultivate empathy in them. I studiously gathered knowledge from peaceful negotiation, psychology, philosophy, journaling, and politics. I never once heard a psychotherapist say that it’s possible to reform others but we can change ourselves. The philosopher Stefan Molyneux has shared knowledge from his extensive psychological studies and interviews on this very topic. He reports that people who lack empathy may never be able to awaken it within themselves and the part of the brain associated with empathy may be damaged or even not present. It’s tragic that we can try so hard to change others who seem locked in a certain way of being never to change.
Life is easier only in the short run when we do not stand up for ourselves against a bullying, imposing, asshole. In the long run we lose respect for ourselves and ensure no good people will ever come around.
I’m sorry that you are dealing with this. Most choose to ignore it their life long and never stand up for themselves against abusers. I hope it was in some way helpful for me to outline a possibility where you don’t need to continue to fight the person but you can identify and thwart more damage from them. You’re worth it, be safe, and be well!
If you get into a tough situation with someone you can copy this list of questions or make your own and then fill it out.
What are the names for feelings I’m feeling? (scared, confused, irritated, angry, frustrated)
Do I have a choice to be in the relationship?
Am I dependent financially on that person?
Is it permitted for me to have my own thoughts and opinions when I speak with that person?
Has that person expressed any curiosity about me, my preferences, and needs?
Do I want this person to stop a behavior? To change?