Fatalities from domestic violence cases in Maryland are down 30% thanks to a simple 16 question checklist and a call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at the time of the 911 call response. After the officer gives the quiz, she or he calls a number that allows the victim to talk to the National […]
What I didn’t understand at the time was that if Will wanted to lash out at me, it did not matter what I said or did or how I said or did it. The purpose of yelling at me, accusing me of lying, telling me I was a horrid mother, insisting I was cheating and all the rest was to keep me off balance. To keep me confused. To keep me explaining myself to him so he did not have to explain himself to me.
I’ve never been to war. I’ve never been raped at knife-point or fought for my life from strangers. But I did live with an unpredictable, angry and abusive man for over 17 years. And that is way more than enough time to develop hyper-anxiety, difficulty concentrating, experiencing overwhelming guilt or shame, and any other PTSD symptom.
Anyone experiencing repeated traumas as with domestic abuse can be triggered unexpectedly. Even so, identifying triggers leads us to better mental health because once we identify the triggers, we can stop them from hurting us.
Types of verbal abuse range from full on anger to forgetting on purpose. Even the silent treatment is a type of verbal abuse! Verbal abusers use several other sneaky tactics to abuse and control their victims, too. Recognizing the types of verbal abuse is the first step to overcoming its effects and regaining your mental health.
Blame causes the victim to believe the abuse is their fault. The abuser claims, “You made me do that!” and “I wouldn’t lose my temper if you …!” Don’t believe it. If you were powerful enough to “make” them yell at you, then why aren’t you powerful enough to “make” them be nice to you?
Therefore, I am finding that I am an emotional chameleon. I must learn to turn off my emotions and the thought train they trigger when I recognize abuse to protect myself and begin “observation mode”. This is not going to work for the long haul. I do not want to live my life connecting and disconnecting from the one I married. But for now and until I leave or he knocks off the abuse, it will have to work.
“I Cannot Control You” is the missing key for people setting boundaries in abusive relationships. I cannot control you, but I can control me. So if you are acting like a jerk, I get to decide if I’m going to stay around you while you act that way…or not. Boundaries for abusive relationships help you keep the sanity you still have.
The teenager tells his dad that she’s like this even when he does everything she asks. I get the feeling that the father isn’t new to this abuse himself. He makes excuses for his wife, he gets slightly angry with his son when he says, “You don’t treat your kids like this!”, and begs his son to lend him the money instead of lending it to the step-mom. The teenager does it because his dad asks his to. But when he gives the money to his father, I want to cry.
So, play along. What you say to the abuser when you’re stuck in place doesn’t matter if you protect your mind. Remind yourself that you’re only saying what you need to say to stop the abuse. Play your part just like an actor plays theirs. Do not let the anger get to you, not to the inside you.