I have no idea what to ask. I know I need to speak to somebody but I don’t know where to start.
Asked by Eddie
Thank you for your message and helping me understand more on how you have been suffering from abuses from your father. I agree with you that it is difficult to think about leaving when we are so scared of not knowing what to do with ourselves should we leave, therefore during this time we must learn and gather strength to build our security, confidence and assertiveness so that we can better respond to abusive behaviors.
Meanwhile perhaps it is also important to understand the nature of abuse and see if there is anything we can do to change in this pattern so that at least we would limit the damages that we suffer from these abusive behaviors.
Dealing with emotional abuse is something that many men and women face in relationships. Whether it's a marriage, a friendship or even a familial relationship, learning how to cope with emotional abuse can become a reality.
The first step in dealing with emotional abuse is learning to spot the signs. If you're not aware of the emotional abuse, you can't make it stop.
The first sign of emotional abuse might be just something in the pit of the stomach, a vague feeling that something is "wrong." It's only by further assessing these feelings and the relationship that emotional abuse can be seen and stopped. Often it comes in comments that makes you feel being put down, not being appreciated, not being respected, not being worthy etc. I could sense that these are some of the comments and feedbacks that you have been receiving, perhaps so much so that you no longer think it's wrong. That in itself, is a sign that you have internalized these abuse and started to believe in them.
In short, in an emotionally abusive relationship one party will try to control and dominate the other party by using abusive techniques. There becomes a power imbalance in abusive relationships where the abuser has all the power and the victim feels that they have none. However, victims really do have the power in this situation to stop the emotional abuse, but it can be difficult.
Coping with Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse doesn't have to go unchallenged and coping with emotional abuse is more than just learning to "live with it." Emotional abusers are just like bullies on the playground and just like bullies, their abuse can be handled.
Use these techniques when coping with emotional abuse:
Understand the abuser – while it can seem counterintuitive to have compassion for the abuser, sometimes changing the way you view the abuser can give you insight into coping with the abuse. Often abusers are insecure, anxious or depressed and remembering that may help you to keep the abuse in its proper context – the abuse isn't about you, it's about them.
Stand up to the abuser – just like the playground bully, emotional abusers don't like to be challenged and may back down if you challenge their abusive tactics.
Find positive ways to interact with the abuser – if you can handle the abuser in a neutral way, you may be able to see the positive in the abuser and find new ways to interact with him or her that is positive. This is mostly seen in workplace environments.
Change the subject or use humor to distract from the situation.
Never support acts of emotional abuse of others.
How to Stop Emotional Abuse
Dealing with emotional abuse isn't always an option though, particularly in severe cases or in intimate relationships.
Abusers don't stop emotional abuse on their own and it is up to the victims and those around them to help stop the emotional abuse. Although a victim may feel "beaten up" by the emotional abuser and may feel like they are nothing without him or her, the victim still can still stand up to the abuser and assert their own power.
Stopping the emotional abuse takes courage. Use these techniques when stopping emotional abuse:
Regain control of the situation by acting confident and looking the abuser in the eye.
Speak in a calm, clear voice and state a reasonable expectation such as, "Stop teasing me. I want you to treat me with dignity and respect."
Act out of rationality, with responses that will help the situation, and not out of emotion.
Practice being more assertive in other situations, so you can be more assertive when being emotionally abused.
Surely these techniques are easier said than done, therefore we can work together to practice being assertive and keeping a healthy boundaries so that we can start limiting some of these damages we receive from abusive behaviors.
A first step as we talked about is to understand the cycle of abuse. We can't do anything with something that we don't understand. Therefore I am sending over a guide that talks about the cycle of abuse, would you mind taking a look and send it back with a few thoughts after you have looked at it? That way we can be on the same page in addressing this issue.
At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).
Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.
After all, you are not alone, there are many many others who are suffering in the ways that you suffer, and there is hope. We can go through this together.
Looking forward to talking with you more,
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)