Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Resisting Persuasion

A cartoon person lets another person's go in one ear and out the other to resist persuasion.

(a.k.a. How to Verbally Abuse Someone)

I was stumbling through the Internet today and turned up an interesting website entitled “Changing Minds -How we change what others think, feel, believe and do.” One page caught my attention. Its topic is resisting persuasion, and I thought it may help me out. Verbal abuse can’t hurt so bad if I can resist my husband’s attempts to change me into who he wants me to be.

On the page about resisting persuasion, I discovered something interesting. The entire page sums up emotional and verbal abuse techniques used by abusers! We call these tactics of resisting persuasion crazymaking, gaslighting, and brainwashing.

WHAT? I asked myself why “resisting persuasion” and “verbal abuse techniques” were one and the same. The only logical explanation that I can currently come up with is that he uses these tactics because he feels that I am trying to persuade HIM into thinking or doing something that he doesn’t want to do.

What am I Trying to Persuade Him to Believe?

What have I spent my married life trying to get him to believe? What’s the underlying theme?

I want him to believe that my thoughts, feelings, and very existence is valuable so I fight to be heard. I try to convince him that the way I feel is valid, the way I think is valid. I want him to believe that it is OKAY if we do not agree. It is okay if we behave differently. It is okay to be separate people even though we’re bonded together in marriage.

And those very ideas are the ones that he resists. And he resists being persuaded using most of the techniques listed on the Changing Minds site.

How to Resist Persuasion (or Recognize Abuse)

Here’s the long but important list from Changing Minds: Resisting Persuasion:

  • Attack: The best form of defense is sometimes to attack.
  • Blame: Make something their fault (and demand reparation).
  • Broken record: Keep repeating your refusal.
  • Can’t afford it: Show how you can’t afford what they are suggesting.
  • Confusion: Act confused and put them off their stride.
  • Data dump: When they ask for information, cover them in detail.
  • Digression: Go off on a side track of talk.
  • Denial: Say that something is not true or did not happen.
  • Embrace, extend, extinguish: Pretend to agree then destroy.
  • Escalation: If you are pressured, get help.
  • Fake anger: Get cross and let them try to calm you down.
  • Fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD): Sow seeds that make them less certain.
  • Filibustering: Non-stop talk to prevent others from making their case.
  • Flight into health: Your problems magically go away.
  • Fuzzing: Keep things abstract and general.
  • Gaze avoidance: Do not get into a staring battle.
  • Higher authority: Refer the decision to a higher authority.
  • High ground: Grab the moral high ground and you are always right.
  • Hmm: Small noises that distract and confuse.
  • Ignorance: Profess ignorance in the topic.
  • I’ll think about it: Slow things down. Give yourself time.
  • Illogic: Use arguments that do not make sense.
  • Impracticality: Say ‘That won’t work’ or ‘It’s only theory’.
  • Interruption: Break up their flow with constant interruptions.
  • Mismatching: Do not let them copy you.
  • More data: Keep asking for more data.
  • Name the game: Tell them the tricks they are playing.
  • Not my job: Refuse work by claiming it is not your job.
  • Not surprised: Don’t be impressed, no matter what they do.
  • Only theory: Discount ideas and explanations as ‘only theory’.
  • Pre-empting: Destroy their argument before they begin.
  • Procrastination: Put off until tomorrow the things they ask to do.
  • Reversal: Turn the tables and persuade them!
  • Qualifications: Counter a show of qualifications with better ones.
  • Say no: Just say no. That’s all.
  • Selective response: Only answer some things. Ignore the rest.
  • Silence: Say nothing (and watch them squirm).
  • Splitting hairs: Argue the detail.
  • Stonewalling: Hold to one position, no matter what they say.
  • Surprised: Show shock that they would say such a thing.
  • Tears: Get upset then cry if you can.
  • Too…: Too early, too late, too expensive, etc.
  • Tried it: Say you’ve tried what they’re suggesting before (and it didn’t work).
  • Truth: Telling the truth ‘shall set you free’.
  • Unavailable: When they try to see you be unavailable.
  • Unfair process: Object to the process. Say it’s unfair.
  • What about: Complexify by asking ‘What about…’.
  • Won’t work: Say that what they are suggesting will not work.
  • Yes, but: Agree, then show how they are wrong.
  • Yes, yes, no: Agree until they ask you to commit. Then say no.

What Can I Do with This Information?

Wow. There is a good side and a bad side to every bit of knowledge we collect. Most of these techniques might have a place in a work environment when you need to buy time. However, using the tactics often could easily tip into abuse. If you resist persuasion (refuse to listen) most of the time, it will create a negative work environment.

And, I suppose that’s why it creates a negative environment at home, too. I dread talking to my abuser about anything important. Or rather, I loathe speaking to him about anything period. My ideas are never any good, never right, never something he would do. They’re ridiculous and naive. I am “not funny” and often laugh at “stupid shit”. (Like people running into glass doors. I can’t get enough of that.)

So, if my abuser uses these tactics that drive me crazy, is it okay if I use them too? I think it is okay to use them if they produce peaceful results. The problem I see here in my own abusive relationship is that none of them would actually result in peace. Plus, if I use them to manipulate him, that is playing into my codependent desire to control him right back.

Additionally, I would have to be very aware that, at some point, using a simple tactic to “resist persuasion” becomes an abusive technique. I know this because I’m living it. So is resisting persuasion a valid way to stop abuse?

What ‘Resisting Persuasion’ Techniques Could I Use?

There are a few techniques I could use to verbally protect myself. They’re similar to the language used when enforcing a personal boundary.

  • Broken record: I could repeat the same statement or question until he actually addresses it.
  • Say no: This is kind of like the broken record. It could help me to ignore whatever hurtful thing he is saying by saying ‘no’ out loud or to myself.
  • Data dump: I am very much a data dumper when it comes to my abuser. I feel like the more he knows then the more likely he is to believe me. However, I now realize that this doesn’t work because he tells me to give him the gist when faced with a lot of detail. And then, the gist is a lie. And he refuses to look at the proof that’s right in front of him. [Sigh.]
  • Stonewalling: I think I see why standing up for myself bothers him so much. He thinks I’m stonewalling him when I won’t agree with his ruthless assessments of me and my actions.
  • Truth: Telling the truth works for me because I learned that I might as well tell my husband the truth no matter what. Lying, in the hope of staving off an attack, makes me feel horrid. Besides, what I’m saying is of no consequence to him. If he feels like getting mad, he will; if he doesn’t feel like getting mad, he won’t. It depends on how threatened he feels about his control over me at that time.

Final Thoughts

When I look at that shortened list of possible ways to respond to my abusive husband, I see that none of them will force him to behave himself and act like a decent human being. But using the broken record, repeating ‘no’, and truth-telling techniques might empower me. I figured out that the data dump and stonewalling do not work for me. Both bits of information are valuable. Plus, when I hear him use the other tactics mentioned on the list, I will know what he is doing, and knowing he’s abusing me will help me to detach.

What insights did you come up with for yourself?

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