Abusive people are not abusive 100% of the time and that’s part of the struggle with helping recipients escape; to them there are enough spaces of time without abuse that they have “hope” for their abuser.
Before you read more… understand this definition of “abuse.”
Abuse can include MENTAL abuse, manipulative abuse, as well as the more easily identified forms of abuse, physical and sexual. Furthermore, remember that men and women can receive abuse, especially the mental and manipulative form.
Each time I say the word abuse, I include all of the above in the definition. So if you are giving or receiving abuse in one or more of these forms, PAY ATTENTION to the following.
The most common type, in my opinion, is the type which one of my exes was guilty of: mental and manipulative abuse.
… Because it’s not a physical form it’s often harder for the person receiving it to feel certain about. Is it really abuse? There are no visible marks. So here’s how to identify mental and manipulative abuse:
When your partner starts speaking to you or approaches you, do you cringe in worry that they will say or chastise you in a demeaning and hurtful way? Do you worry about being embarrassed by them in public as they talk down or insulting of you in public? Do they call you dumb, stupid, or some foul name?
I don’t mean like once or twice in a few years while in the midst of a heated argument. I mean for seemingly mundane moments and in an insulting manner.
When it comes to manipulation, this often involves criticizing you while you are at work, or trying to use your child as a weapon against you, or some other family member or friend. Threatening your comfort in a social network, threatening to use information against you.
These are the most common forms of mental and manipulative abuse and again, most of the time abusers are not abusive every day.
That’s what often makes it harder for the abused to leave because most people want to witness the redemption of their abuser. And I don’t think it’s just for the benefit of the abuser; I think it’s more often about the recipient of the abuse who doesn’t want to lose hope in humanity. We all have this hope that no person is beyond redeemability because if one person is, then more people will be void of hope.
But to every person who feels abused I say this, protecting yourself from an abuser does not mean you have given up on them as a person worthy of the chance to change. By virtue of leaving OR pressing charges when it’s physical, you are pushing them towards change. You are showing them the error in their ways, you are indeed helping them WHILE helping yourself.
The reason I am explaining it this way is, most of the time the world speaks to a person receiving abuse to tell them they are too good and deserve better than they are getting. The problem is, I don’t think that’s the only reason people stay; it’s not that they feel they deserve the abuse. Oftentimes, as the abuse prolongs, they long for the redemption of their abuser, they long to hear the apology, to receive validation from the abuser as he or she says, “I was wrong.”
What the recipient doesn’t realize is that by staying they make it less likely that the abuser will ever feel remorse and truly change. After all, what motivation does this person have to change if they have lost nothing or been punished as a result?
And remember how I started this out: a person who abuses is not always abusive. They will go days and weeks, sometimes months without any episode of abuse. As a result, the recipient of the abuse thinks perhaps this person is improving and maybe if they endure and show this person that they can trust them, perhaps the person will stop and do better.
Many abusers also say they act poorly toward others as a result of a painful past, perhaps even that they were abused as a child, and that no one stayed in their lives. They’ll say “I act this way because everyone leaves me.” And so the person who endures the abuse thinks if they stay with the abuser, at some point they’ll change and it will be that Hallelujah moment of love.
Here’s the truth: it won’t.
People do not change without behavior modification. What’s that you ask? Behavior modification happens in natural social interactions but also within therapy. It’s when punishments and/or rewards or applied to modify a person’s behaviors and how they view things in their environment. For instance, a person who was abused as a child, who now abuses others as an adult has to be treated for the PTSD they are responding to. They often see their own emotional vulnerability toward others as a warning sign that this person will hurt them, so they abuse in order to prevent being abused.
THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU SHOULD STAY. Because if you stay, once again, they will not change the behavior. You hurt yourself AND THEM by staying because they will never escape the mental abuse trap they are in and therefore, will ALWAYS abuse you again.
You deserve a WHOLE and complete person who has healed their past and is capable and WILLING to nurture you as you nurture them and build a life together. But every person must get to this point ON THEIR OWN. You have to nurture your heart and body and spirit, and ONLY connect and share space with those who are spiritually healthy and who maintain your peace and you maintain theirs.