How Being Afraid To Call It Abuse Can Keep You Stuck In It

Nice people often go the extra mile to excuse abusive behaviors in toxic relationships. Dangerous!

We all can have a bad moment, or even a bad day. BUT, do you rationalize, justify, and make excuses for the consistently bad behavior of someone towards you? That's a problem. No matter who it is in your life--parent, partner, sibling, adult child, friend, or co-worker, it's important to your well-being, self-esteem, and self-confidence to be able to give abuse its name.

You may not want to. You do!
You may not believe you have the right. You do!
You may not think you deserve better. You do!
You may need some insights and support to allow yourself to see if for what it is and give it its true name. You do!

So what's up?

You could be excusing abuse. Abuse is so much more than the obvious physical abuse that leaves bruises, breaks, and marks on your neck. Abuse is more often hidden in looks, words, and silences. Neither verbal abuse or emotional abuse leaves a mark for others to see, but both leave indelible marks on your heart, soul, self-esteem, and self-confidence. Excusing abuse gives space for more of it. You're not up for that, right?

You could be rationalizing abuse. Ever have this thought?

"If I hadn't done this, or spoken up about that, s/he would not have flown into a rage." 

Never let someone else make you feel not good enough. People choose their behavior. You don't make them feel or do things.

If you find you're blaming yourself for other peoples' behavior, you nat think that their abusive behaviors towards you are your fault. NO! It's not your fault. They are showing you who they are!

Other people are responsible for their behavior choices. When you observe that behavior, you have the right to decide if you want to be around it, or if it is in any way acceptable to you. When you've been worn down by abuse, you often need support to say "No more!"

You could be justifying abuse. In your head, that sounds like this:

"I just have to remember what a rough childhood s/he had, and that no one really loved them." 

Yes, by all means, have compassion. Don't let it extend to enabling the abuse, though, by being so "understanding." The abuser is still choosing to behave in abusive ways, and if s/he doesn't see the need to change, nothing good can happen. You won't change them, but you could be terribly damaged as a result of having insufficient self-compassion to say no to the abuse.

And, what are your children seeing and feeling? One big reason to carefully examine these behaviors, right? You don't want your children to think that abuse is normal in a relationship.

The inevitable squeeze of financial abuse or the unending fear of sexual abuse can be immobilizing. That's the desired outcome abusers are looking for.  They want power over you that wears you down, puts you down, and tears you down, bit by bit. They erode your self-esteem, your self-confidence, your dreams and hopes. They want you to be limp, controlled, fearful, and so emotionally exhausted you're easily manipulated.

Eventually, you live with the dominant thought of how not to upset the abuser, and your ability to function in your own life is diminished. You walk on eggshells even when they are not around. You're constantly on the alert for something they might think is wrong, not good enough, or worthy of their rage. Not good.

Abusers gaslight you. They try to define your reality for you: what you think, feel, need, want, remember, and prefer. Ever hear something like this:

"I know you better than you know yourself. You know you get confused."

That's gaslighting designed to lead you to second-guess yourself and question your sanity. That's the point of their behavior!

Abusers undermine you emotionally. Emotional abuse is often the most difficult to allow yourself to recognize because it is so personal and private. Again, you may want to give a person the benefit of the doubt for too long. Or, you may rationalize, justify, or excuse their behaviors, believing what the abuser always says:

"It's your fault!" 

Emotional abuse can be more subtle, hidden, and private. Or, especially once the abuser thinks you're sufficiently worn down, it can be more public. It's goal, though, is to control you by discrediting you--in your own mind and in the minds of others, isolating you to become dependent on them for any shred of approval, or silencing you. Damaging, potentially dangerous, toxic relationship sign!

If there is any point during reading this that caused you to nod your head in recognition of what is happening to you or someone you love, have a good long look at why you may not have been willing to call it abuse. It's time to start!

No one has the right to abuse you in any way. Call abuse by its name. Empower yourself. It's the beginning of saying, "No more!" 

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