Hi, this is me and I might have something to say.
Who am I and why do I think I might have something to say?
I’m pretty normal I guess. Two kids, two divorces. Five cats. (shhh!!)
One really normal part of me is that at the age of 55 or so I discovered that I was in an abusive relationship and had been for many years. I discovered that even though I worked at a domestic violence shelter and had been trained in domestic abuse, I was not able to recognize it in my own marriage. I discovered that as I reviewed my entire life and the various relationships I had had within my family, my church, my marriages, I had never been taught what abuse looked like. I was unable to identify, and therefore resist, abusive behaviors directed at me. Oftentimes, to be fair, those abusing me were not necessarily “bad people”, but they had grown up in a society that expects certain behaviors from men and women that are in essence abusive, and they were just walking out those learned behaviors. By accepting the abuse as “normal”, in a very real sense, so was I.
I also have a history of spiritual abuse. I experienced decades of a religious experience where I was told over and over that I could not trust my own feelings, thoughts, experiences because there was an enemy that would try to deceive me through those things. The only thing I was allowed to trust was the word of god, which was always interpreted for me.
I didn’t have to put up with that. YOU don’t have to put up with that.
Over the last few years (I’m 60 now) I have pondered this lack of knowledge I had and I have decided that I don’t want 11 and 12 and 15 and 18 and 22 and 29 …. or 55 and 60 year old people to continue living their lives without being able to recognize abusive, manipulative, or controlling behavior. I want you all to have the tools which I didn’t have to escape the traps that are psychological and emotional abuse. Hitting is abuse, but abuse is not just hitting. Abuse is not just hitting, and the line, “well, at least he doesn’t beat me” is one of those “insights” into the reality that, yes, if that’s what is being said, there is abuse in that relationship.
While marriages and gf/bf relationships are primarily thought of as where abuse resides (and we are talking about the entire spectrum of relationships including LGBTQ), this is not completely true. Not being in a romantic relationship does not mean you don’t need to learn about this. Your workplace can be abusive. Your school or classroom. Social services, law enforcement. Manipulation and control can reside in your friendships, can, at times, be foundational in them. In the places that you can control, you can choose better. And it’s surprising how many places we can control once we find out what is going on. On the flip side, if we don’t know what’s going on, we have very little control, even over the smallest decisions. Knowledge is empowering.
I have a little more knowledge now than I had for most of my life. I am empowered. I have more control over what happens to me. I exercise more choice. Therefore, I might have something to say. I hope you find it helpful.
This is me and I might have something to say.
Pull up a chair.