Abusers Will Feel a Certain Way
How do abusive people typically react to you enforcing your boundaries? It is likely to make them angry. Why? In essence, your boundary cuts them off from the core of you, and abusive people do not like that at all. Their control over you relies on you being open to them so far that they can jump right inside you whenever they feel threatened. Feeling threatened, to an abuser, is the same as losing control of their environment and their people.
I’m Afraid of How My Abuser Will React to Boundaries
Abusive people do not react to boundaries well. They become angry at you for cutting them out (of you). Whether the anger comes out loudly or softly, it will come out in a way designed to punish you.
I recently learned about personal boundaries and why I need some. I shared that on this blog and received responses from Erin and Amber.
“I think setting boundaries is a great idea – but it is just going to awaken the beast in him and piss him off even more. He is not going to be able to get his berating in and it is going to either build up or his anger is going to overflow at that very moment.”~Erin
Erin, you’re right. It will anger him at some point, if not right away. But here’s the thing: Setting and saying my boundary is the important thing. If setting a boundary with my husband angers him, then so be it. Anything I do has the potential to anger him, so I must do and say what is good for me!
“Are we married to the same man? I started ignoring my husband now too . . . he doesn’t like that much and will continue to work me . . . until he pulls me in.”~Amber
Amber, there’s the rub. They will continue to work us because that is what they do to gain the upper hand, the lead, the control they MUST have to feel safe.
Tell me, when he is successful in turning you into a raving lunatic in response to his abuse, does he calm down? Look at you condescendingly. Comment on how out of control you are.
Then, in your mind, do you realize how you must look and sound? Do you think that he is right? Are you an out-of-control mad woman?
Automatically, you feel ashamed, out of place, and disoriented. He’s able to pin the blame for this ugly scene squarely on your shoulders because that’s what he wanted to do. After you realize that your behavior got out of hand too, you apologize to him. Then you likely run to your children and console them, apologizing for being such a failure as a mom, a woman, a person.
Meanwhile, in this aftermath, he either follows you around the house witnessing your distress (and enjoying it), agreeing with your self-loathing, or perhaps offering to help you change. Or, meanwhile, he feels he won and leaves you alone entirely to go do something he enjoys with people he enjoys.
Abusive people react to boundaries in angry, childish ways. The anger may be overt or covert, but you will see it soon after enforcing a boundary.
The hardest part about this is detaching your heart and mind from the abuser. But practicing detachment is the only way to keep them from pulling you back into the fold.
How I Detach From My Abusive Husband
It is my goal to see and hear him as if he is on a movie screen. As if he is playing a role to which I can choose to pay attention…or not. When he starts his shit, it is my job to speak when I feel he is crossing a line, leave the conversation when he insists on crossing my boundary, and from that point forward, pay attention (from a psychic and emotional distance) to realize if or when he becomes a physical threat.
Emotional distance is the key. I must remember that when he reacts to boundaries, he behaves in his controlling and manipulative ways. At that point, he is no longer worth my attention. I do not need to waste my empathy, compassion, or understanding on him. And those hurtful words that he spews? They are nothing more than his attempt to pull me back into confusion and self-loathing because THAT is the state from which he can control me.
Featured photo by Peter Forster