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.