Friday, February 15, 2013

Is it Abuse?

I never used the word abuse until I had left the abusers behind and had spent years not being abused and actively working on healing. When you're living in abuse, it is difficult to correctly identify our situation as abuse. Our mind works hard to protect us, the abuser works hard to confuse us and our emotions have packed up and aren't giving us any input.

Following are hints that you should really consider accepting that you're living with an abuser:
  • You always seem to be wrong about most everything. And the other person is definitely always right.
  • You find yourself apologizing daily, and may have built up to apologizing every hour of every day. Sometimes you wonder to yourself why you just apologized for something you didn't actually do or say.
  • You often believe you must have misunderstood what the other just said. You must have. 
  • You're pretty much, okay. A long flat line of okay and a complete absence of feeling word vocabulary.
  • You have bruises you hide.
  • You find it difficult to make any choices. 
  • You seem to have become "too sensitive" because that's what you're told anytime you realize that you feel hurt by the other's words or actions.
  • You spend lots of energy on trying to make the other happy--but you fail regularly.
  •  You think your spouse might have some sort of anger issue but it isn't loving to talk about it
  • You feel restricted. Your partner has become the one who decides how you dress, who you talk to, where you go, how much you can spend, etc.
  • You often feel confused. Things just don't add up well. Your partner or parent must be telling you the truth--but it doesn't make sense.
  • You feel small and stupid much of the time when you're at home. 
  • You often feel like you're walking on eggshells.
  • Every time the other is nicer or neutral, you feel hopes that things are going to get better.
  • You feel like you try so hard to keep the other from being upset again, but it is never enough for any length of time.
  • You feel sorry for the person you're living with. Life seems so painful for him or her. If only you could get him or her to see how much you love him or her, then he or she would feel much better and behave much better.
  • Sometimes you wonder if you're going crazy.
  • You've become afraid to answer his or her questions directly--you've learned that any answer you give is likely to lead to trouble you don't want.
  • Your love for the other person feels really big--no matter how he or she treats you.
  • The longer you live with this person, the smaller, dumber, uglier, and more incompetent you feel. You feel powerless.
  • You feel shame. You think it must be your fault--you don't really know how it is your fault, but you still think it must be what you deserve.
If several of  the following behaviors are true about the person you live with, you are likely living with an abuser. If much of the list is true, you are living with an abuser:
  • He or she traps you during disagreements--blocking the exit.
  • He or she grabs you, pushes you, trips you or hits you.
  • He or she threatens to harm your pet, your children, your siblings or yourself.
  • He or she coerces you to do sexual things you don't want to do.
  • He or she seems like two different people--a nicer person and a cruel person.
  • He or she typically tells you what you think and feel (You're not cold. You aren't thirsty.)
  • He or she rages at you for long periods of time.
  • There are two sets of rules. One for you and one for the other. The other is the one who is the expert on all rules. He or she gets upset frequently.
  • He or she punishes you as if you were a bad child.
  • He or she regularly breaks promises.
  • He or she pounds walls, tables, steering wheels etc. when upset.
  • He or she blames the world. Nothing ever seems to be their fault.
  • He or she either never apologizes or apologizes frequently with tears--either way their wrong behavior continues.
  • He or she regularly belittles you.
  • He or she abuses alcohol or drugs and then goes into rages or hyper-controlling behavior.
  • He or she is chronically suspicious of your motives.
  • He or she was abused as a child and hasn't healed.
  • He or she uses non-verbal messages to control you in public.
  • He or she does something cruel and then acts like it never happened.
  • Whenever you try to confront the other, you end up in a worse position.
  • He or she throws things when he or she is upset.
  • If he or she says that grass is purple you must agree, or risk being harmed or belittled.
I hope that this helps someone identify his or her situation. Awareness is the first step to making new and different choices.

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft