Unlearning abusive behavior is important for overcoming abuse. I’m not a psychologist, so this post isn’t based on psychology. But like everything I write on this site, there is always a spiritual message. I’m writing this post based on my own personal experiences and I will share with you, the measures I took to unlearn my abusive behavior and overcome my abuse experience.
Abuse isn’t just physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional. Abuse can also be financial. It could be very obvious for all to see, and it could also be so subtle as that nobody notices. It happens to all of us at some point in our lives, it happens more often than we realise and usually at the hands of people we love and trust.
What it means to be abused and its effects.
When a person is abused, it means that they are/were repeatedly treated with neglect, cruelty and/or violence. It means that they are under the control of the abuser, that the abuse happens often and it has become a pattern. The pattern usually goes this way;
- the tension builds
- then the abuser attacks
- after which the abuser is remorseful and apologises
- then the abuser behaves themselves for a while.
- then the cycle begins again with the tension
The longer the victim stays in the abusive environment, the quicker the pattern is repeated. This pattern causes the victim to feel fear, helplessness, uncertainty and shame. They develop abusive behaviors as a result of the abuse or in order to cope with the abuse. Abuse victims easily feel overwhelmed, anxious and irritated. Victims cry often or are moody all they time. It is either they have trouble being left alone or they always prefer to be left alone. They develop a deep distrust for people in general and are also prone to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, (PTSD), as the simplest things can trigger a flashback to the abuse event.
Abused people are given to negative self talk, always compensating for real or imagined wrong deeds and always settling for less because they don’t believe they deserve better. They become very insecure and usually avoid assertiveness because they don’t want to ‘offend others’. They are usually unable to make decisions on their own and they are prone to dating the same of low value, low vibrational type of people. They tend to compensate for all this by over talking and giving out too much/unnecessary information about themselves.
Abuse victims tend to be in their heads and their feeling a lot. They give too much power to the abuser by reacting the way the abuser expects and seeing themselves through the abuser’s eyes. Because they are identifying with the abuse, they either tolerate what they shouldn’t, or put up walls that ‘protect’ them from being hurt, without realizing that those walls are the abusive behavior they inflict on others. This is where unlearning abusive behaviour becomes important.
The funny thing about being abused or neglected is that if you are not careful you’ll end up doing to others what as been done to you and feeling justified in your actions. You remember the pain you went through and you unconsciously or consciously inflict it on others, most likely the people that love you and don’t deserve it. By doing this, you are no better than your abuser. Sadly, this poisonous chain of abuse can go on and on if not checked.
Unlearning abusive behavior.
You can’t overcome abuse until you unlearn the abusive behavior you developed to survive the abuse. This means consciously choosing to no longer identify with the abuse experience as part of your reality. It means looking objectively at your behavior patterns and accepting that you are hurting people or pushing them away from you. You will begin to unlearn abusive behavior when you realise that you are missing out on good opportunities and amazing people because you cannot let go of the painful experience.
Healing from abuse
Abused people who are trying to heal without actually getting the help they need tend to seek co-dependent relationships that initially give them what they lacked in the relationship they had with their abuser(s). They also find themselves attracted to people like their abusers because it’s familiar and/or because they want to fix them.
These relationships never work because even though fixing them might seem like a good idea at first, you’ll come away feeling worse for wear and very resentful. This is because you can’t fix someone who doesn’t want to be fixed or who doesn’t want to be fixed by you for that matter. You can’t fix someone when you yourself have to heal because you can’t give what you don’t have. This is how abusive behaviors spread.
How to overcome abuse.
Overcoming abuse and unlearning abusive behavior is not at all an easy thing to do. It is a subtle but deliberate act of self love. You have to love yourself enough to see that you are holding on to things that will destroy you. Going over the abuser’s behavior over and over again in your head will never make you feel better. The anger, pain and lack of self worth are poisonous to your spirit. You must let them go. These are the steps i took to heal.
1. Stop responding to your abuser in the way they expect
Stop reacting to the things they do and say to you in the way that you usually react. You can do this by not engaging with them when they begin their abusive behavior, or responding in a way they won’t expect, like with silence, indifference or humor. As you do this, you will gain the confidence to confront them and call them out on their treatment of you. Abusers usually operate from a place of their own deep seated fear and insecurity so this tactic will work well.
2. The abuser is not likely to change so leave that abusive environment
Dependency of any kind is usually the reason the victim stays in an abusive environment. If you have any hope of healing, you must leave that environment that torments you. Staying will destroy you. Waiting for the abuser to change is a dangerous waste of time because you’re focusing on them and they are thriving off that power which they will constantly use over you. Once you begin to focus on yourself, you will realize the damage that the abuse is doing to you. You’ll stop being afraid and you will stop walking on eggshells. This is usually when you’ll decide that you will no longer tolerate the abuser’s behavior and walk away.
3. Face the abuse and come to terms with it.
One of the most effective ways to overcome abuse is to face it. When you face the abuse, it will begin to lose its power over you. You’ve got to dissect it piece by painful/shameful piece and you’ve got to look at it as objectively as you can. Doing this will help you see that you can overcome it.
This will not be easy at first because of the fear of reliving the experience again. Try to understand that the event is only an imprint on your subconscious, not the event itself. I mean, it’s not like the whole world or the abuser knows you’re doing this so its actually safe to revisit. Facing the abuse will be very uncomfortable for you but this is how the healing begins. You don’t have to do this alone, you can talk to a trusted friend or go to a therapist, even if you’re one yourself.
4. Talk to someone that you know will help you
Abuse is not a joke. Keeping the events of the abuse to yourself will destroy you. It will eat at you and get you so deep in your feelings that your behavior will push people away from you or make you do some thing dangerous or self sabotaging. You must talk to someone (an experienced person. A psychologist or your pastor) about it if you have any hope to heal from the abuse. Just talking to someone means half the burden is removed from you because the first thing they will tell you is to stop blaming yourself. More often than not, this person will help you heal much faster than you could ever do on your own.
5. Constantly pray about it, forgive and let go.
Your healing can never be complete until you forgive yourself and the abuser and let it go. Forgiving and letting go isn’t a one time thing though. You’ll find that you’ll have to forgive the abuser more than once. Infact, you’ll have to forgive them every time you think about what they did to you. It’s a continuous choice you’ll have to make for your own well being otherwise you will fall back into old, dangerous self destructive patterns and you’ll have to start afresh. Thats a bummer.
After healing from the abuse.
In truth, the healing process is painful and takes time, but sooner than later, you’ll make noticeable progress and you’ll even attract better people into your life, or at the very least, stop being under the control of the abuser.
By the time you have done the work that healing requires, you’ll not want to identify as a victim anymore and you won’t waste time being sad. In fact, you’ll simply want to stay away from negativity and vibrate higher. You will subconsciously understand the necessity of balance within you and in all you do and you’ll have healthy boundaries in your relationships that others will have to respect or leave you alone.
What others do to you is their karma but how you respond is your karma. Life happens to all of us. That’s why we are here; to learn and to experience. Sometimes life is good, and sometimes it’s bad. But we must realize that our reaction is our super power. Prayers, positivity and gratitude literarily serve as cushions that protect us from negative vibrations and energy. Take back your power, own your mistakes, work on your faults and became the best version of yourself daily.