Accepting a Painful Truth
Abuse, whether physical, verbal, emotional, or spiritual begins with one primary attitude that emanates from the abuser: superiority. The abuser will offer remarks criticizing or correcting his victim’s behavior, personality, profession, friends, family, choices, priorities, appearance, attitude, etc. He begins to strike a position of absolute knowledge and authority.
With such clarity of mind, he has no trouble finding cause to criticize, correct or condemn those things about his victim that he finds unappealing or inappropriate. You need to be more outgoing, submissive, sensitive, affectionate, flexible, athletic, or whatever. He complains that you’re not a better cook, housekeeper or lover. He leaves little doubt that your views on important matters, news, politics or family relationships are flawed or foolish. In fact, if it weren’t for him, you are led to believe you would merely limp your way through life.
It may begin as a cutting remark, a little sarcasm, or a put-down. Over time, his tone will become increasingly angry. He may throw in some manipulation, unusual demands, self-serving attitudes and actions. Because he doesn’t hit you, you fail to recognize that what you’re living with is actually abuse.
Abusers will use whatever weapons they have at their disposal. They are fully aware of your fears and failings and use them against you. If you are a God-fearing woman, he will use your faith against you, inferring that God would not be pleased by your attitude or actions. If you are truly a godly woman, you will submit to the abuser and his will. If you have a poor self-image, he will exploit it and remind you of how unappealing you are. If you suffer guilt from past issues or failings, he will find the perfect moment to throw them in your face.
Even if a victim knows in her heart that she is doing the best she can, the feelings of inadequacy he churns up compels her to question whether he must be right. So she strives even harder to earn his acceptance and affection, believing that if she just tries harder, he will see how much she loves him. The enabler-victim’s life is one of anxiety and confusion, believing that if she can hold it together, prove her loyalty and worth, he will very soon turn around and love her.
Why doesn’t it work? Because he doesn’t want what she wants, and he doesn’t want her to have what she wants. The abuser doesn’t want relationship; he wants control. The enabler wants to believe that he doesn’t really mean to hurt her; it is too traumatic to consider that this person whom you have loved and tried to please is hurting you and doesn’t care.
This is only the beginning. (See Part II)
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