I’m The Victim Here

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More often than not, we experience verbal abuse and don’t even realize that it’s happening to us. I’m sure we’ve all had that one friend that would walk all over you, but when you tried to let them know that their treatment of you was offensive it became the end of the world. And how dare you point out their behavior as less than friendly! You owe them an apology now for sticking up for yourself!

We tend to brush off their actions with, “Oh, they’re just very outspoken” or “I was overreacting to what she said”. But it’s not healthy. We teach those around us how to treat us. They know who will put up with their crap and who won’t, and unfortunately it’s the ones we’re closest to.

It probably started out small with them making a rude remark about your home, appearance, family, or job. And they brushed off their behavior with a flaky excuse. . .  “Well you know I had a bad day at work, my boss was on my ass about being late, and my boyfriend and I got into it that morning.” Thus turning the focus from your pain to them, making you feel guilty for your pain. And now they’re the victim, not you.

Then the verbal battering becomes more frequent, and it’s almost as if they are just picking fights. They don’t allow you to voice your feelings openly, and when you do they interrupt or make you feel as though you’re overreacting and have no right to be upset with them. They minimize your emotional pain and hurt feelings with a “how dare you” attitude.

This is text book gaslighting. Manipulation at it’s finest and they are good at it. They are pros at making themselves the victim in every situation. They are pros at never taking responsibility for their actions or words. They are pros at getting their way. This is toxic behavior and just like we urge you to get out of a toxic intimate relationship, we urge you to distance yourself from toxic friendships. They will suck the life from you, eat away at your ability to find joy, and drain your emotional sanity until there is nothing left but a shell. A shell of a person that no longer knows who they are, where they belong, or what to do with themselves.

So, don’t forget that abuse isn’t always violent. Abuse doesn’t always happen between a husband and wife. Abuse can take place in any relationship, great or small. Keep yourself aware of the red flags of abusive people. It isn’t healthy to stay in any type of toxic relationship, your mental state will thank you later. Surround yourself with those that support and lift you up.

~Christa G.

Moving On

 

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It’s so easy to say, “Let the past be the past. Forgive and forget and move on with your life.” Or “If you dwell on the past you’ll never be able to move forward.”

Wow are these statements true! If we continue to remind ourselves of all the times someone has lied to or wronged us, we will never be able to reach our full potential or full happiness.

Why is it so hard to remove the hurt from those past experiences?! Sometimes I wish I could scrub my brain of all the painful memories that resurface from time to time. The circumstances to which someone took advantage of my kindness and gullible nature. The times that I was too quick to forgive and move on, but didn’t resolve it fully so it still plagues me. The moments that left a scar in my soul and kept me from being able to live joyfully.

I am a shell of “everything is perfect” on the outside, while my mind is secretly working 100 miles an hour to pick apart everything that I’ve ever experienced.

General anxiety at its finest.

These are the emotions of someone that has been abused. And they are dealt with daily.

You’ve been lied to about what they were doing, who they were with, and where they were. You’ve been cheated on, cursed at, spit on, beat on, and blamed.

The survivors that are lucky enough to make it out alive are left with pieces of themselves that no longer fit. We must gently work to put ourselves back together. Healing and learning how to live again. Finding a place that we belong. Finding others that understand us. Finding joy.

We need to find the strength to let go of the past so that we can see clearly ahead. This doesn’t mean that you condone the way that person treated you, it just means that you are going to rise above it and no longer allow them to control your train of thought. I am going to purge myself of the negative impact from situations that are far gone and out of my control. It’s time for us to focus on what lies ahead.

~Christa G.

Slipping Away

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Sister night. Girl’s night. These were impossible to have with my sister while she was still in her abusive marriage. He always had a reason for keeping her from spending time alone with me or her friends. The only chance we had to hang out was if we went to her home, unable to speak candidly or even relax because she was still the one to have to watch the kids. I didn’t understand it at the time. I thought he was just being selfish and lazy, not wanting to have to deal with the kids once we left. I thought his reasons were more innocently mean. I thought he was just a jerk. Until I actually lived through an abusive relationship, I never realized his underlying motives.

On the surface, isolating a partner from friends and family may just seem like an act of selfish disregard. And at first, the abuser may disguise this type of control as flattery . . . “You look too sexy in that dress, I don’t want any man lusting after you . . . I don’t want you to spend time with your friends tonight, I want you all to myself . . . You’re too smart for those friends of yours, how can you hang out with them? . . . If you stay in tonight, I promise I’ll make it up to you this weekend . . .” Early on, this type of possessiveness may seem a compliment. But as the abuse continues and worsens, the isolation is a way to maintain that control. By destroying the victim’s support group, by breaking it down, it increases the victim’s dependency on their partner. This is exactly what the abuser wants, he has her right where he wants her.

Eventually, with the loss of a support group, the victim loses their individuality. My sister was able to be molded into the wifely drone that her abusive husband desired her to be. She could not express herself outside of his manipulative grasp. This is vital to obtaining complete control over someone, because they will have nowhere or no one to turn to.

I felt my sister slowly slipping away from us. She was no longer the bubbly, optimistic and loving woman I used to know. I attributed it to exhaustion, to taking care of the kids and cleaning and working all on her own. I had no idea she was little by little forfeiting her identity over to her abuser. I had no idea she was having to keep the peace in her marriage at such an expense to herself. And then one day, after I left my own unhealthy relationship and began researching patterns of abusive behavior, did my eyes truly open to the reality of my sister’s situation. It was heartbreaking, but it was like suddenly stumbling across the cure to a disease. I knew she had to leave him. He was the tumor. He was the cancer destroying every cell in her life. I knew it was a life or death matter.

Years later, I have my sister back. We now can unabashedly drink wine and eat chocolate and drunkenly sing as many Phantom of the Opera songs as our little tipsy hearts desire. I will cherish these sister nights for the rest of our lives, because there was a time when I truly thought we would never have a chance to spend time together again. There was a time when I thought her husband would keep her from us. And there are those who have lost family members to an abusive partner. Verbal abuse most often leads to physical abuse and physical abuse most often leads to death. And if verbal abuse does not lead to physical abuse, it can lead to serious depression or suicide. If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, please go to our helpful links section of our blog, there is plenty of material out there that helped us learn how to best help our loved ones. If you have a sibling or a loved one, treasure your time together.

~Lindsey V.

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I write a lot about what I went through in the past with my abusive relationship, but I haven’t shared much about the night that I made up my mind to leave for good.  I tend to stay quiet about it because it was the start to some nasty rumors that tore me apart and destroyed some friendships. But tonight I am going to be completely transparent. . .

I had been working as a security guard for a few months, 12-hour shifts that could be quite boring.  I made several new friends while working that job, both male and female.  One such friend was a great listener and during times of high stress I would confide in him my marital problems. We began chatting via Facebook or text message, and it never stemmed beyond friendship. There was never any indication that he wanted more than a friendship, and I never gave that vibe either. I realize some would say a married individual should never confide in someone of the opposite sex, and maybe I was wrong . . . but I didn’t have a relationship to begin with.

I was alone in a miserable marriage, with a man that never wanted to talk, and when he did it was to belittle me or yell at me. I lived for 12 years believing I was the problem, I was unlovable, I was incompetent, I was crazy, I was a terrible mother, and an ungrateful wife. And so I talked about my frustrations with others because he wouldn’t, and didn’t care to listen.*

So, I befriended a young man that I worked with. One night, my husband went into an outrage and began throwing a fit over this friendship. He cornered me in our laundry room and while hovering over me, began accusing me of cheating on him and wouldn’t listen to reason. It was in that moment that it dawned on me, I had done nothing to deserve the way he treated me! I was the one who had been truly faithful for twelve years while he lied about going to parties, doing drugs, and spending nights with “friends.” I had endured all of his name-calling, yelling, and fits over the years. I was the one that took him back after his family decided to hold a drug intervention for him. I was the one that took care of everything. Why was I letting him get away with being angry when it should have been the other way around? When I couldn’t answer that question, I decided that it was enough. I would no longer let him dictate my every move, or decide who I could befriend, or decide when I could go out with my sister. . . I had enough. And so I left.

Of course rumors spread that I was the reason we were divorcing. I cheated on him, oh how unfortunate and pitiful for him. It ate me alive! I couldn’t stand the fact that people actually believed him. I constantly worried about how everyone viewed me. What everyone thought of me. I hated that anyone thought badly of me and was stressed over it for months. But in the end, those that truly loved me saw the entire situation for what it was. They knew the truth to everything and that was all that mattered.

If you are in an abusive relationship and are contemplating leaving, please know it will be incredibly difficult at first. One of those difficulties is that your partner will try and manipulate family and friends to think that you were the one that cheated, lied, and tore apart the relationship. They will do and say whatever necessary to appear to be the victim. Just remember to keep your head up. You know the truth, and you will be much better off when everything is settled.

~ Christa G.

*In a healthy marriage, you should discuss your problems and concerns with your spouse. It is not healthy to discuss every little issue with friends and family. They will not hold the same respect for the spouse that you will, especially if they feel that person has wronged you. This could, in turn, create a rift in family relationships that could be difficult to undo.

Climbing to the Top

 

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In a world filled with hateful and wicked people, let your light shine. Make a difference in the lives of those around you, lifting others up, praising and encouraging our loved ones and peers, and proactively changing our world for the better.

Pier M. Forni, author of The Civility Solution: What To Do When People Are Rude and director of The Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins University says, “In today’s America, incivility is on prominent display: in the schools, where bullying is pervasive; in the workplace, where an increasing number are more stressed out by coworkers than their jobs; on the roads, where road rage maims and kills; in politics, where strident intolerance takes the place of earnest dialogue; and on the web, where many check their inhibitions at the digital door.”

In a world filled with amazing technological advances, increased knowledge, answers at our fingertips, responses within seconds, and the ability to easily travel anywhere in the world, we still battle a centuries old plague. . . bullying.

Contrary to conventional belief, the targets of office bullies are not the new, inexperienced and less confident employees. The targets, according to research, are the highly competent, accomplished, experienced and popular employees because they pose the greatest threat to the bullies. And when bullies find targets that refuse to be controlled and intimidated, they escalate their behavior.

Not all forms of workplace bullying happen within the same office or company.  There are companies that bully their competitors, making it nearly impossible for the competing company to thrive in the same area. And I am about to tell you one such story. This has occurred between companies that I know of personally, however, I have changed the names to protect the individuals affected.

Mr. Fred is a Salesman with LiteBrite and he covers a large region of a few states. He works closely with toy companies in those states to ensure that they are getting the best products and best prices so that when they sell them to their customers they will still make a decent profit. Mr. Fred is not like your usual salesman, he is honest and goes out of his way to help everyone in his region. And he treats everyone equally, because in helping them achieve success, he’s also going to be successful. So, everyone wins, right?

Not in the eyes of Mr. Gold, the top salesman for Luna Toys. He didn’t think that any of the other toy companies in his region should be allowed to sell LiteBrite. And because Mr. Fred won’t give in to his complaints and wishes to be an exclusive LiteBrite sales location, Mr. Gold began complaining to the top executives of LiteBrite. Mr. Gold was ruthless in his endeavor to ruin Mr. Fred’s good name, get him fired from LiteBrite, and also ruin possibilities for the toy stores in his area to sell LiteBrite.  Luckily, LiteBrite is very aware of Mr. Fred’s good character and so they did not give in to Mr. Gold’s wishes to have Mr. Fred fired. But it hasn’t stopped.  Mr. Gold has a vendetta to ruin business for all of his competitors, and he bullies them with lies, threats, spying, and accusing them of bad business.  In the end, he is the problem and someone has to put an end to the type of mentality that you can run over everyone along the way to get to the top.

I realize this may sound like a silly little story, but it is a real life scenario.  These situations occur in every walk of life, in every type of business situation, and many people are miserable in their jobs because of a workplace bully that will not put an end to their constant taunting.  Even if you defend yourself, show proof that you are not at fault, show proof that you are performing at your best, and prove yourself until you are blue in the face. . . the bully’s tactics will only become stronger. They will not cease until either you are out of the picture or they are gone.  One thing is for sure; the problem of workplace bullying will not go away anytime soon and may never be fully remedied until enough people call for a return to a culture of civility, and demand that governments and organizations take action. Truly successful people help one another along the road to success. When you walk all over everyone on your way to the top, there will be no one left to help you in your time of need or crisis. And believe me, those times will come.

Workplace bullying occurs in many different forms, on different levels, and from various ranks within a company. It may be a supervisor, a boss, a co-worker, someone in a different department, someone competing for recognition, someone competing for sales, or even an employee you first thought was a friend.  Bullying can show up in the form of harassment, degradation, sexual harassment, threats to take your job if you don’t do as they say, threats to get you fired if you speak a word of their bad conduct, and just plain bullying behavior that leaves you miserable and dreading to be near them. Many victims of workplace bullying, much like other types of abuse, are afraid to speak up for fear of not being taken seriously. The world is always ready to shame the victim for the way they are treated. But we have to step up and speak up to win the war against abuse. It’s time to come together in your office and speak out against the harassment that is taking place, encourage others to go to supervisors or HR departments to file a formal complaint. Nothing will change if we stay silent. It’s never too late to make a difference. Stand up for your rights. Stand up for the rights of others. Stand up for respect.

~Christa G.

Speechless

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Not all abusive relationships are with intimate partners. Some happen between co-workers, friends, or siblings. And then there are the ones between parent and child. When we think about child abuse, we often think about the children that are beat, locked in closets, and starved. Verbal abuse is the most prevalent type of abuse, and it takes place without being recognized. Tonight we share one such story with you from the perspective of a teenager, who for safety purposes, wishes to remain anonymous. The first key to overcoming manipulation and verbal abuse is to recognize that it’s taking place. Here is a piece of her journey. . .

 

One blow after another shot straight into my chest and mind. I will admit, I wasn’t prepared at all. The words I had gathered up to say had all been blown to smithereens, leaving me hopeless, confused, and lost. I had been preparing the things to tell him the entire ride here, staring out the car window at the trees that blurred by. However, now my brain’s gears had stopped grinding, and I was left speechless. His refusal to let me speak my mind was like a rope keeping my thoughts and opinions at bay. My father always had to have things his way, and he had such a manipulative way of talking it was hard not to give in to his will. The conversations I had with him were like the most intense battle I had ever seen, and I lost every time. I don’t know if it was because of fear, if my game plans weren’t good enough, or if I just didn’t have the will to speak louder than before.

I guess I need to start from the beginning. My parents divorced when I was twelve, and I wasn’t that surprised or hurt by it. They had been arguing all my life, and I never saw my father much, because he was always away, either at work or in his room. Life hustled on like always, and I just went with it, going wherever the winds of fate blew me. However, I didn’t really agree with how my father decided to live his life. He had been smoking since he was in the army, which was when he was around eighteen or nineteen. I had tried to get him to quit for so long, and those turned into miniscule arguments on their own. The point was, when I tried to tell him my opinions, he always shrugged it off with a look on his face that said, “I’m always right, and nothing you say will contradict that.” I never wanted to feel that ashamed again, I was frightened of that feeling of error. I hated it, the feeling of a scorching face as covered lies were thrown at me. Even though they weren’t the truth, the way he twisted it around made it feel like they were. I wanted to speak back, but I couldn’t make out the words. I was too afraid of that feeling, but little did I know, he was too.

One heated argument has really stood out to me. It happened a few years ago, when I had just turned thirteen. I was in my father’s apartment. It was an extremely small basement apartment, with only two rooms and one bathroom. It had a tiny kitchen, which did not have an oven, and the microwave gave off a wretched smell when we used it. I was sitting on the ragged green couch in our living room when I got a text from my mother. I didn’t know that this small text would be the cause of my horrible embarrassment later on. The text read, “How are you guys doing? What are you up to?”

I answered truthfully, “We’re not really doing anything, Dad’s in his room asleep.”

She answered me back, “Okay, well, text me if you need anything.”

Little did I know, my mom was going to get on to my father about how he was asleep, when he should be spending what little time he had with us. I was on my phone for a little bit longer when my father stormed into the living room. He looked tired, but extremely frustrated and upset.

“Jenny! Why did I just get a text from your mother telling me I should be a better father?” He bellowed.

“I-I just told her that you were asleep . . .” I stammered. His glare was putting me in the position of a mouse trapped by a cat.

“You don’t need to tell her anything!”

I opened my mouth to say something, but he kept talking.

“This isn’t her house! She isn’t here anymore! You don’t have to tell her every little thing we do!”

“I’m really sorry, I didn’t think she would get that mad . . .” I apologized. He didn’t pay my apology any attention, and just kept ranting.

He shouted more and more, for what seemed like hours. I wasn’t really listening through half of it. Instead, I was hugging my pillow, trying to hide my tears. I tried blocking him out, pleading in my mind for him to just stop already. I understood, I was sorry, and I wanted it to end so I could go back to doing whatever I was doing before I got that stupid text! I tuned in a little bit to what he was saying now.

“I might just have you leave your phone at your mother’s house so you can’t contact her at all!” My father was threatening.

I felt outraged. That wasn’t fair at all! My cheeks felt like they were burning, but I couldn’t think of a word to say that he wouldn’t contradict. I racked my mind for any kind of phrase or sentence that might hit home to him. What if I told him it was unfair? No, he’d probably just say that telling Mom everything we’re doing is unfair. Thoughts of things to tell him raced through my mind, only to be shot down by my other ones. The result ended with me not saying anything. I just sat there, vulnerable, like a sitting duck. Speechless.

Eventually, his rant died down, and it was quiet. It was a horrible, awkward silence. I had so much to say, but I hid it, and he had run out of things to say. We kind of sat in that silence for a little while, until he just walked away. Leaving me alone to my thoughts.

Time passed and I was still on the couch, my face a little pink from the crying. My dad walked in, and tried to apologize. I forgave him, of course, because he’s my dad, and I love him. I know he loves me too, he just, has his days. I don’t think he’ll ever really understand my feelings, because I don’t think I’ll ever have the guts to tell him. I know, deep down, that I’m going to have to tell him eventually. However, I don’t think that time is now. I have told myself over and over, I’m just waiting for the right moment

Well, I think that moment might be soon, really soon, but I might need a little more time to think about what I’m going to say.

Break My Bones

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“You picked this gimpy shopping cart on purpose just to annoy me.”
“Why would you buy a car without me there to help you?”
“I take you out for lunch on your birthday and this is how you act?”
“Don’t be such a child.”
“You turn your back for one second and it burns!”
“You have anger issues.”
“If you gain weight, it’ll be in all the wrong places.”
“Can’t you just shut up and figure it out on your own?!”
“You’re wasting my time.”
“You’re boring me right now.”
“If you don’t do as I say, I will break up with you right now!”
“You’re incompetent and useless.”
“If you don’t like it, then stop reading my text messages.”
“That didn’t hurt! I nudged you, I didn’t kick you!”
“So what, now you’re gonna tell your family and friends that I abuse you?!”
“You asked for it!”
“It’s ALL your fault!”
“F&#K You!”
“You’re being a bitch right now!”
“You’re making me do this.”
“You’re just being a crazy c@nt!”
“Shut the f%#k up!”
“I’m not hurting you! How does this hurt?!”

Don’t let it get worse. End it . . . while you can.

~Lindsey V.