Three Important Skills You Need To Cope With Abuse
I know how hopeless and helpless you can feel if you live with an abusive person. Abusers suck the joy out of life - or at least they try very hard to make our lives miserable. If you're stuck living with abuse, I hope you are planning your escape. But sometimes it is close to impossible to leave now, so you've got to put up with your abuser's crap as best as you can. For many abused people, putting up with it feels like saying it is okay for your abuser to treat you that way. Sticking up for yourself backfires, being silent backfires...there seems no way to appease the abuser without compromising who you are.
It is very important that you find a way to maintain your integrity despite the abuse. But because Abuse seeks to destroy your integrity and turn you into a monster like it, the battle just to be you rages daily. Fighting the battle on your abuser's terms isn't going to work; besides, acting like them might make you think less of yourself. Think about what behaviors will make you feel good about you.
The idea of coping with abuse is increasing our feelings of empowerment and making our own decisions about how we act, what we think, and how we feel. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves, and you can feel better about yourself even if you live with a life-sucking abuser.
Control How You Act, Think, and Feel
There are three skills you can cultivate to set yourself onto the road of empowerment.
I bet I need to explain those steps better.
Ditch (Change How You Act)
Ditch the conversation. Stop participating in whatever communication is making you feel anxious, angry, or sad. You have at least three choices on how to ditch the conversation:
- You can tell your abuser that you're uncomfortable and then walk away.
- You can walk away without saying anything.
- You can stay in the abuser's presence, but completely tune out what they're saying.
Option 3 is the worst choice because it is difficult to bite your tongue when someone lies and rages at you and even more difficult to appear to be listening when you aren't. However, you may not have the option to leave the conversation because you're a child, stuck in the car, or fear what will happen if you walk away. If you must remain in the abuser's presence, ditch the conversation by following these tips.
Laugh (Change How You Think)
Laughter breaks the tension and allows your mind to separate itself from whatever your abuser just said or did. Laughing is easier if you practice the technique described in the Detachng From Verbal Abuse Hypnosis MP3, an audio here on the blog.
- Think about how ridiculous your abuser sounded when s/he said those things to you. What a jerk s/he is to stand there and spout off nonsense expecting you to believe it!
- Or think about how silly you used to be to take your abuser's remarks to heart.
- Think about the craziest, funniest thing you saw on YouTube ever.
- Or just smile and think about where laughter starts in your body. If it starts in your heart area, imagine it there and let it flow. If laughter begins in your belly, remember what it feels like and let it go!
You get to choose what you think, and what you think helps you control your emotions. No, really - I mean this: You get to choose what you think even if your emotions feel violently unsettled from abuse that occurred seconds ago. So laugh to break the spell hanging over you, and move on to the next step.
Detach (Change How You Feel)
After the tension leaves your body through laughter, you'll find it much easier to detach from the event and your abuser. Let it go. Whatever s/he said or did, imagine it floating away like a harmless balloon.
Tell yourself that you made it through the worst of it, you're still you, and it is okay that someone else in the world doesn't appreciate you. It stinks that the one who diminishes you is your spouse, mom, or whoever, but you know that your abuser has a problem that you can't fix for them. A good punch or scream into something soft and unbreakable might help get rid of whatever negativity remains in your body or mind.
Release your desire to correct what your abuser said. Release your desire to argue, nit-pick, or return to the conversation later. Pick up your journal and write about
- what just happened
- how you handled it
- and how you feel now.
It is okay if you still feel angry, hurt, or sad! But now, you will be able to write about those feelings without them taking you over. Write about what a jerk your abuser is or how you wish s/he would change how s/he treats you. Consider how you felt when you walked away from the conversation and whether it felt empowering or not. What would you do differently next time?
Now that you have your head on straight, explore the incident from beginning to end, keeping your mind on what you did right and what you want to try the next time.
Jo, K. (2012, September 23). Three Important Skills You Need To Cope With Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2012/09/three-important-skills-you-need-to-cope-with-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Thanks for the advice Kelly I have looked at other sites on this subject but yours has been most helpful
thanks again x
I read these blogs / advise narratives all the time. My husband is definitely emotionally abusive and our marriage is toxic ... but he has the most severe depression. I’m not making excuses for him but to not acknowledge that would be terrible of me. We have three gorgeous children which also alters the relationship and how we fit together. I just don’t know what to do. I’m exhausted and broken by it all. I think about an escape plan but then his emotional pendulum swings back and he is a little better...
Does anyone have any coping strategies?
That was supposed to be a kiss icon! I don't know what that little face is.
That's so beautiful. Thank you, Kellie. I will aim to focus on my husbands words. He knows me better than she does, as we've been together for 25 years now.
You're really helping people, Kellie. I wish all the greatest things for you. :-x
Thank you so much for this website. My Mother abused me throughout childhood until recently, when I finally ended communication. So, for forty years. My father always aided her. I think your tips on coping will really help me get past it all.
My husband is a lovely man who sees me entirely differently than they do. He thinks I have lovely personality traits. In fact, my parents and sister are the only people who have ever torn me down. I have loving friends. Still, it is very difficult to accept that I might be good, because my mother brainwashed me thoroughly and I really can't seem to believe good things about myself.
I am grateful to have a mother who never tears me down - she is like your husband. One time she told me, "Kellie, if you don't believe in yourself, believe that I believe in you. Believe that I know you are wonderful, courageous, and can do anything you set your mind to doing. Borrow my feelings until you feel them for yourself."
This statement worked like a charm for me. I'd feel down and victimized, then I'd remember what she said. I didn't have to believe in me yet, but I did have faith in my mom's belief in me. I borrowed her feelings until they became real for me.
It helped to clear away years of brainwashing inflicted by my husband. I think the same principle could work for you, too.
Hi, I just wanted to thank you so much for your website and everything I am reading. It is so helpful to me. I slip up and forget what you posted. but then I return to it and again am able to handle the abuse better.
THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATION IT HAS HELPED ME.
Hi Kellie, I am not sure if I am in in an abusive relationship or in denial? There have been many many times in my relationship that I have felt put down, useless, worthless, unloved and uncared for. I feel anxiety at speaking to him sometimes as I don't know if he is going to explode. He has a loud voice and will often use it. He often yells at me. He does not like any of my friends or family, with the exception of 1 person. Over the weekend my partner swore at me in front of our young children (not the first time). I spoke to him this mornign and asked if he was going to apologise for his actions yesterday, he said he wouldn't as I deserved what he had said. I am tired of being sad and miserable all the time. I thought I was depressed but reading your blog last night I think I have realised I'm not depressed, just really really unhappy. Of all that I have read on blogs over the past 24hrs I can see similar stotries to mine and yet mine don't seem as bad. Could this still be a verbally abusive relationship? He had said before"you don't know what I am capable of". I am scared to leave as I am worried about our children, I don't have a job and therefore am financially dependent on him and we are in financial stress. I feel trapped.
Sarah, it sound to me like your partner abuses you. You feel put down, useless, worthless, unloved, uncared for, anxious, sad, and miserable. There is reason for those feelings. You didn't make them up.
He keeps you on pins and needles, waiting for his next explosion of abusive anger. He uses his voice to intimidate you. He tries to isolate you from friends/family by not "liking" them. He demeans you when you two are alone and in front of your children. He threatens you. All signs of abuse.
It does not matter if another person suffers "more" abuse than you do - this is a judgment call that minimizes your horrible experience. Who cares how bad someone else has it? YOU FEEL BAD ENOUGH. No amount of your suffering will help anyone else.
Feeling trapped is common, and it could be a realistic feeling for you. Perhaps you are trapped right now. Educating yourself about abuse and filling out a safety plan will set you on the road to empowerment. Once you feel stronger, you will see solutions that you cannot see right now. Download the safety plan here: http://verbalabusejournals.com/pdf/safety-plan-stay-or-go.pdf It is designed to help people like you who cannot leave right now and those who are ready to go. You won't feel trapped forever, Sarah, even if nothing changes but your perspective.
Hi Kellie, I was in abusive relationships most of my life until I finally found my way out. Your advice is great and brought back memories of how I escaped some of my darkest times. I hope women will follow some of your strategies for getting out of an abusive relationship.