Verbal and Emotional Abuse – A Primer – Part V

Telling Your Secrets

In this ongoing chronicle of life with a verbal or emotional abuser, the enabler-victim, after months or years of living with a hyper-critical, controlling man, finally reaches a point of desperation, shares her pain, and asks for help.

When an enabler-victim finally gets to a place where she knows she can’t live in that kind of environment any longer, she will dare to open up to someone she believes is safe for her. It will not be easy to try to explain all that she has endured for however long she has endured it. It may seem crazy to someone else. She knows that they may not believe her, particularly since she has been propping up a carefully crafted façade of a happy family for years.

The risk seems huge. Yet, when she finally shares the truth and finds a sympathetic ear, just having the opportunity to vent some of her stress and having someone listen and offer her encouragement, refer her to a good counselor, or extend a hand of support is a long-overdue breath of fresh air. Someone has graciously put an arm around her and confirmed that she is not crazy.

With just that slightest nudge, she will, hopefully, begin to accept that what she has been living with is wrong. She did not cause the abuser to hurt her. What she needs now is information, emotional support and options to ensure her safety.

As she begins to seek resources and open up to other trustworthy individuals, she gains new insight and additional affirmation. She will hopefully begin to explore more about the dynamic of abuse an seek out books, articles and support groups, and come into contact with others who have survived similar relationships.

She is relieved to know that she is not alone. But, when the truth hits home, it can also be debilitating. It seems odd, but her mind has worked so hard to keep the trauma under wraps, that when the full weight of the knowledge bears down, it is a heavy burden indeed. She grieves the years she has lost to abuse, the loss of love of someone she cared about deeply, and wonders at the long road of recovery ahead.

The enabler-victims sadness and grief often turns to anger. Now seeing more clearly the vast arsenal that the abuser has kept at the ready to belittle and control her, his next attack finds her ready. After fulfilling a role of a fearful, submissive wife, she struggles with the realization that she must meet her abuser head-on. When he begins his criticism, she may see it for what it is, and rebuke it to his face. She might tell him that he is an abuser, and he will predictably mete out blame for any issues in their relationship. The abuser refuses to relinquish his power. To do so would make him too vulnerable. He can’t have that.

See Part VI

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