Letting Go of Abuse
Abuse affects our foundational thoughts - the ideas of who we are, what we're doing, why we believe what we believe. Manipulative abusers use every weapon against us - mental, emotional, physical - and leave us bleeding our souls onto the floors of our own homes. The damage can be so horrendous that when the abuser is no where to be seen or heard, the injury continues to grow, not to heal.
No where in this world is safe when your abuser's words run laps in your head, circling and creating negative thoughts. Abuse kills from a distance too.
We victims of abuse intimately attach ourselves to our abuser. Our lives may depend on knowing what the abuser is thinking and what their actions imply because, deep down, we know the abuser's goal is to eat us alive. And if they have to kill us in the process, oh well.
Underneath the distraction of the implanted negative thinking, we know our thoughts mean nothing to the one we love. This is probably the most painful part of abuse - the denial of our right to exist. We fear that our deepest secret, the idea that we're unworthy, is true. We fear that if that person we love killed us, life would go on for them. It would. There's always another willing victim around.
Why do we fight so hard to remain a victim? Why did I fight so hard to be Will's victim? Why was it so important to me to prove my worth to a man who would never see me as the wonderful woman I have become? What is the attraction?
Abuse Validates Our Negative Thoughts About Ourselves
I believe the attraction to our abuser lies in the validation of our worst thoughts about ourselves. Hey, we all like to be "right" sometimes even if we're right about how rotten we are. Here are some illustrations from my own experience:
- He called me a whore, and after two rapes and countless casual sexual encounters, I feared I was a whore.
- He told me I could be trusted in the home with the children, but not in the "real world" where he lived. Then he told me I was a horrible mother, a failure at the only job I held. He said I was inadequate, and I feared that I was inadequate to face his "real world."
- He told me I was too sensitive and had no common sense. He said that he couldn't trust me with his money, couldn't trust me to clean the house, couldn't trust me to make independent decisions. I thought he was right about all of those things, and I never stopped to ask myself why I may be overly sensitive, confused, an over-spender, depressed, and insecure.
It's difficult to detach from abuse when we allow their thoughts to validate our own fears. When we allow negativity in any form to take over our thinking, we're setting ourselves up for failure. We're setting ourselves up for abuse. We're engaging ourselves in the abusive cycle. It's a no win situation.
Mute The Abuse
Maybe I had to say all of that to say this: anytime you hear or think negative things about yourself, it is imperative that you hit the mute button.
You do not have to give yourself (what feels like) false praise by thinking the opposite thought. For example, I notice myself thinking "I am never going to learn to make good decisions!" If I go the positive affirmation route and tell myself, "I know how to make good decisions already!" then its unlikely I'll believe myself. When we're down on ourselves all of the time, turning the negative into its opposite feels like a lie.
But there is something you can do to detach yourself from your partner's abuse and your self-abuse:
- Stop yourself as soon as you notice your negative thought or word from your partner.
- Tell yourself "This is an abusive incident"
- Imagine the abusive thoughts or words bouncing off your armored chest, your aura, or being forced OUT of your head through your ears (whatever it takes!).
- Take a breath and tell yourself, "I refuse to allow these words to play in my mind. I am more than these negative thoughts/words. These words are not me."
After you take those few seconds to clear your mind, you can then make a better decision as to what you want to do about the abuse.
- If your abuser is saying mean things to you, maybe you'll decide to walk away, or, if that feels too dangerous, sit there and look like you're hanging on their every word while your mind is really detaching you from their abusive words.
- If you are self-abusing, maybe you will focus on turning the thought into a positive one that you can believe.
Stop allowing everyone including yourself to abuse you - you control your thoughts or you can regain control of your thoughts if you've lost it. Notice your negative thinking and work to abolish it by refusing to let it rule your mind. Try it, starting now.
Jo, K. (2011, November 16). Letting Go of Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/11/letting-go-of-abuse