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Recognizing Abuse

You do not deserve it.

Image by Sydney Sims

Abuse. It comes in many forms. This story is very personal to me and it exposes my greatest fear - being weak.


I recently severed a 3.5 year tumultuous relationship with someone who portrayed characteristics of narcissism, gaslighting, verbal abuse and sociopathic behavior. This person almost convinced me that I was a terrible person, to the point that I no longer loved myself and I questioned why I'm even on this planet. I now find myself in emotional recovery and anticipate I will be for awhile.


Fortunately, I survived the abuse and learned a lot about myself in the process, although it's been a terribly painful expedition. I am a deeply self reflective person and surprised to discover that I'm an easy target of emotional and verbal abuse. I have never been exposed to this type of abuse in prior relationships and I simply didn't understand what was happening. I was the boiling frog. Thankfully, my inner voice is strong and clear and I have wonderful friends and family who reminded me who I am. I also learned that an independent and strong person can be taken down by the abuse of someone I love and trust.


I supported and took great care of my ex, yet I was blamed for this too - manipulated to believe that my generosity was my form of control over them. I was always made to appear the one causing the problems, and I was even convinced this was true when the abuse was at its worst. Everything was a right or wrong discussion. Win or lose and I had to be the one that lost or all hell would break loose and the verbal onslaught would begin. There was no collaboration or ability to disagree peacefully. Only defeat. So I conceded and somehow I even accepted that I deserved to be treated poorly. This should have been a big warning sign, but I was already weakened by the relationship dynamic and years of intense verbal abuse.


To cap it off, months after the relationship ended and a tenuous friendship developed with my ex, all communication suddenly stopped and access to the sweet dog we raised and shared disintegrated. Not only was my self love and gut instinct deteriorated by the person I trusted, the one thing I loved deeply, my pup, was taken from me as a final act of emotional abuse. Even now, they are inflicting their last bit of control to gain power over me. It hurts deeply to lose my dog, but this sacrifice is less hurtful than continuing to engage with this destructive person.


Once again, even in this situation, I was blamed and cast as the problem, but I knew better this time. My acceptance of the abuse ended then and there. I could finally see it for what it was. Control. Not my control. It was their desperate need for control that was projected onto me for 3.5 years and privately cultivated with verbal and emotional punishment.


If you feel abused and no longer trust your instincts, walk away and get help. It's likely you're not the cause of the problem, even if you have been convinced that you are. A loving partner will talk to you with kindness, patience and never tear you down. Abusers will often do this in private then build you up in public to keep you confused and dependent upon their praise. Nobody else sees the abuse, and that is their intention.


Heed this warning - You must use great caution and self control if you choose to confront and call out your abuser. They will most likely turn it on you and accuse you of abuse, control and criticism. An abuser will use all means possible to take you down first, including making others believe that you are the abuser and cover for their behavior.


Since the abuse generally happens in private and nobody has witnessed the abuser's behavior, they will skillfully make you appear to be the abuser, so keep your calm and remain peaceful no matter how bad it gets. If you react and call names too, they win again. You can expect an onslaught of more verbal garbage intended to damage and shut you down. The abuser wants to see you get riled up and treat them just like they treat you to justify their behavior, and to show others just how terrible you are. It's a wicked trap!


Abusers will continue to abuse because they don't want to internalize their behavior, or they simply can't, because the shame is too great. They will always cast their blame on you and try to defeat you. Once we are aware what's happening, we can't allow abuse in our lives and we must take full responsibility to create our own self love and listen to our inner voice. Remember, the abusive behavior of others is entirely on them. It's never your fault or mine and there is no justification for any form of abuse. Period!


Ommmmmmm 😊


*I intentionally used the unbiased term "they" when referring to my ex in this story. There are all forms of relationships and I do not want my experience to be interpreted simply as a typical hetero gender biased dynamic - he vs she. Abuse is abuse and it can happen to anyone.

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