Unfortunately, when you grow up with emotional or physical abuse your body can wire love and abuse together and it think’s that is normal. Some people who grew up with abuse have the ability and resilience to say NEVER again. Often we find if there was one person who provided unconditional love the child can gravitate away from abuse and in many cases give back to those in abusive situations.
If you, however, find yourself in abusive relationship after abusive relationship, it is time to open your eyes to this pattern and make different choices. Many times you will trick yourself into an abusive relationship because the abuse is less. Abuse is abuse. Being abused 7 nights, 5 nights, 2 nights or 1 night a week is still abuse and a deal breaker. You need to leave!
Each abusive situation has different distinctions and to be safe all will optimally require you to have help to leave. Reach out to organizations that can help you leave, churches you trust, family or friends who understand, social service organizations that are competent or anyone who you think can help you or you and your children leave. The most important distinction for the logistical aspect of leaving is to be safe. Make requests of people who are competent and you trust.
Unfortunately, after you are out, the challenge becomes the brainwashing you have undergone. You then can become your own worst enemy. I strongly encourage you to refuse to listen to any chatter you have that suggests you should go back. Examples of chatter you need to decline”
1. “It wasn’t that bad.”
2. “It won’t happen again.”
3. “It was my fault.”
4. “No one else will have me.”
5. “I can fix it if I just keep the house clean.”
Brainwashing is powerful and you must work hard to understand believing that chatter keeps the abuse going. Do you want to be your own worst enemy or best friend?
To be your best friend you must immerse yourself in support groups, therapy, classes, and anything you can find to build your self-esteem to say no to all forms of abuse! If the chatter surfaces to go back, do whatever you can to get through another day. Tell yourself you will give yourself a year before you will make any decisions about any relationships especially the one you just left. When you reach a year’s time tell yourself you need two years. The goal is to end the brainwashing and say No to abusive relationships forever!
We can know things intellectually and I believe until we modify our bodies to take the right action we are at risk. When your body gets “trained” to believe abuse is normal, it must be “retrained” to believe abuse is unacceptable.
Take a look at the patterns you have developed during the time you were being abused and reinvent yourself where necessary. Look at your eating habits, your exercise habits (or lack thereof) and see if you are sabotaging yourself. A strong body helps a mind to be strong and vice versa. Eat well and do something physical for your body every day. If you are in other abusive situations e.g. work and friends it is time for housecleaning. Look for a job where you will be respected and friends who have your back and want your success. If you only have one friend who can do this, it is better than 20 who use you or put you down.
“Monkey mind” or thoughts that don’t support you cannot be allowed to flourish. Here are some examples of activities that some of my clients have used to say No to “monkey mind”.
1. Music whatever best doesn’t let you think
4. Call a friend
5. Go to a support group
6. Learn something new language, skills, activities etc.
7. Get an animal particularly a dog for unconditional love
I promise you when you retrain your body to a new, healthier normal it is harder to allow abuse. Abuse partly thrives on brainwashing from the abuser and rationalization on your part. By getting away from the abuser you stop the brainwashing; by reinventing your life to healthier you can see the craziness of the rationalizations you used to stay, “your fault that you were hit!!” Really!
I remember leaving an emotionally abusive work situation years ago. It wasn’t until I was in a healthy respectful workplace that I was able to observe my body tightening in preparation for the abuse that would have happened in the old place but didn’t happen in the new place. Normal and healthy was like light and freedom. Things happened respectfully and I could get so much more work accomplished. When you are Preparing for abuse, Dealing with abuse, Recovering from abuse it takes a lot of time. The time keeps you bonded to the abuser in a negative way and negative or not it is still a bond that needs to be broken.
If you have spent any part of your life in abusive relationships, you owe it to yourself to spend at least that amount of time in normal healthy relationships so you can make a comparison. You need time to reinvent yourself and then make the observations, (as I did in my new workplace) about your body’s reactions. Do you like all that clenching, fear, and anticipating something bad? I found I didn’t. You also need time to develop an observer who is competent in assessing whether new situations are abusive or not. This competence takes time. Give yourself that time and increase your chances of ending abusive relationships forever!!
“Self-love, self-respect, self-worth. There is a reason they all start with “self”. You cannot find them in anyone else.”
Take a stand against domestic violence. To learn more see http://www.ncadv.org/takeastand.
Dr. Anne Brown PhD, RN of Sausalito, California, is a psychotherapist, speaker, coach, and the author of Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No. Anne’s approach is especially applicable to people affected by divorce. Backbone Power is a no-nonsense self-help guide to making decisions while having backbone and integrity in all your choices, short-term, and long-term. In addition to helping the divorce community, Anne has over twenty years experience as the trusted advocate and advisor to influential corporate leaders, trial attorneys, athletes, leaders, physicians and others seeking actionable guidance. Brown is a graduate of the University of Virginia, BS in Nursing; Boston University, MS in Psychiatric-Mental Health in Nursing; and International University, PhD in Addiction Studies. In 1997 Brown also reached a personal goal of obtaining her Black Belt in Soo Bahk Do. You can contact Dr. Anne Brown through her website: www.BackbonePower.com.