Are you being realistic about the potential for violence in your family?

When you hear about violence perpetrated in so many ways in the world—shootings, wars, subway “pushers”, rape, beatings, it’s a wake-up call. Now is the best time to have a look around your own life, at your circle–family, friends, spouse, partner, child or co-workers. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you in denial about someone’s potential for violence because you don’t know what to do about it?
  • Have you tried to talk to a person close to you about the startling or inappropriate ways they react to life and  treat people…to no avail?  
  • If you did try to talk with them, were you met with anger, defenses, excuses and rationales?
  • Did they immediately point the finger back at you rather than accept the invitation to look at themselves? 
  • Do you feel you have to be nice to someone who scares you, just to keep the peace and not be victimized by them? 
  • Are you in an abusive relationship, and you need help to stand up, speak up, and do something to keep yourself and your children safe?

If any of these things are present in your relationship, it’s time to take action. 

No. It’s not time to start blaming, getting angry, criticizing, lecturing or threatening to leave them. That doesn’t work.  OK, yes, threatening to leave them does seem to straighten them out for a little while. But, be honest. There is no real change over time.  

Many people who behave these ways are not driven by logic.  Now, that’s a game-changer, isn’t it?  If they are not driven by logic and your attempt to reason with them is all you’ve got, you’re not going to get very far. Repeated attempts at reasoning just makes you frustrated and furious, wasting your time, energy and goodwill.  In fact, these folks are so resistant to your logical approach that they may even behave in more entrenched, frustrating and violent ways just to prove to you that you have no power over them! 

Here is where we all have to become more realistic.  If you see patterns of behavior that are ones intended to dominate, control or alienate others, these are signs of potential trouble.  That trouble will seldom be the huge, violently overt acts of a killing spree. It is more likely to be repeated acts to show other people how little they care about them. In so many cases, these behaviors that push people away are based in a deep belief that they themselves are unlovable. “I’ll show you. You won’t ignore me!”  That can be their motivation for verbal or physical violence.  It is a search for significance gone terribly wrong. 

So, if someone you live, love or work with is habitually difficult, defensive or destructive, take note now. They likely won’t grow out of it, nor will they likely change unless they are open to positive, immediate and effective help.  You have to do things differently.

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