One follower of our FB page wrote in this week asking me to dive right in to what is a commonly pondered question. With the eye opening #METOO movement, amongst other developing women’s rights campaigns, we have a clear view of the issues befalling women. I don’t assume that this is a problem that falls only on females, but in this case, the submission does come from a woman. We’ve been given strength in numbers and it has helped us come forward when silenced before. In that respect, we’ve gotten our voice back, but what happens to those of us who are lacking support locally? Those of us who feel stuck in a relationship that we don’t know how to get out of, no matter how bad it gets. Whether it be a relationship involving a child, that requires communication with an abusive ex, or in a scenario where we simply have no choice in the matter.
In this case, the abuse is not physical. Not to down play emotional abuse, as there is a lasting impression of emotional abuse present that usually outlasts the physical. However, in my case, and many others, not having to fear for your life out weights any lingering emotional baggage. That may not be the case with this follower.
As usual, I have a million follow up questions.
How are you still connected to this person?
What type of manipulation or control tactics are they using?
How is it effecting your relationship with others?
How is it effecting your day to day life?
All of those would be essential to a fulfilling reply, but we’re just going to give you the best possible answer we can!
It looks like you’ve done the best you can to distance yourself from this person. As you stated, you left, and you still feel that they still have some control over your life. That’s a helpless feeling.
“Just don’t talk to them!”
“Why are you allowing this to happen?”
“Stand up for yourself!”
The leftovers of emotional abuse can take years to recover from. You’re strong just for leaving a situation that was toxic. You deserve praise daily for even that! Never forget that! While you are at it, remember the courage it took to walk way. That was inside of you! You can do more than just move your feet and pack your bags. You can set boundaries. You can make the rules! I know it’s not easy, but you can do it! You’ve done the hard part, now lets rebuild!
While these words are encouraging at best, it can be hard to turn words into actions. Intimidation tactics are a classic maneuver of an abusive, controlling person. They can make you feel like your opinion doesn’t matter, until you find the confidence to take your life back.
Let’s assume the person you are talking about, is a relative. Let’s say they are a parent. You moved out, but you still feel like they control your life. They talk down to you about how you raise your children. They criticize your job or demean your living situation. They don’t approve of your SO or your friends. They constantly ask you about your habits or weight. Maybe they don’t like the car your drive, or the clothes you wear. Maybe they think you don’t spend enough time with your children. These are just a few examples. There are infinitely more to choose from.
You have control.
Even if they make you feel like you don’t. At some point in your life, whether it be the day you turned 18 or sometime there after, you become an adult. You finish school, get a job, get a place, and move on with your life. This can make someone with a controlling personality feel like they have lost grip on something important, and they can start intruding on places in your life that are better left alone. In some cases, they aren’t “controlling” like one would expect. In instances where you may be the only child, they can feel like you leaving takes with you the meaning of their life. Control of their own destiny is lost, because being a parent is all they know. They feel like they have lost control of more than just their child. The motives may be only just below the surface, or completely imbedded in who they are as a person. Sometimes its hard to distinguish the real reason, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been making excuses for their behavior for so long, you don’t know what’s real anymore.
They usually start out with subtle hints, questions, and suggestions, and when that starts to callous, they move on to more aggressive tactics, or become even more subtle and manipulative. Planting seeds of doubt in things you should be openly and widely proud of.
DO NOT STAND FOR IT!
We worry about ruining a relationship that has had resounding significance in our life. Putting your foot down might have that effect, either temporarily or permanently, but remember, you have the right to your own happiness. If you approach the situation and have a conversation and it doesn’t go the way you wanted it to, let it rest for a bit. Knowing the boundaries you have set and your feelings to air out. They are real, and they belong to you! No one can take that away! It might be a shock to them at first, but if they care about you, they’ll understand. It may take some time, but hopefully your relationship will be better off.
In the instance that we are talking about an ex, which seems more likely in this scenario, and you have removed yourself from the situation directly, then it’s time to address what might be keeping you in contact with that person. What is it that provides them a doorway to continue to attempt to control and manipulate you?
My best guess, and the most common answer is most likely a child or children are involved. This complicates things. In general, I am more apt to believe someone with this level of control and abuse issues needs to be closely monitored with children, or at the very least, the behavior addressed for safety’s sake. It’s uncommon that this isn’t a personality trait. The last thing you want is to place this burden on your children, especially if you are not there to monitor it. It can be hard when you think someone needs help. It makes it even harder if they are not ready to be helped. It helps if you can distinguish regular behaviorisms and personal vendetta.
The likely hood of an adult discussion dwindles to near nothing if they are personally attacking YOU and it’s not just their personality as a whole. Sometimes its a good to get someone else involved. I am by no means a professional. I can provide experience and personal opinion all day and still not be able to personalize the response for every reader’s situation. I may even be missing the mark with the person submitting the question.
While there is stigma surrounding counseling, there are many resources available to help families and individuals. Since behavior like this is learned, you can also help your children better understand the effect of this type of behavior as well as identify the problem before it becomes the norm. Getting the other person to admit that an external party needs to intervene can be a problem all on it’s own.
At the end of the day, you have the power to make decisions that can effect your relationship with yourself, your children, your family, friends, and partner. You have the power to discuss openly, how these issues make you feel and how they effect your life.