Five Things You Can Say to an Emotional Abuser
1. When someone is making decisions for you.
Are you aware that you’re making this decision for me and without asking me what I want to do? I have my own desires and needs. When you assume what is best for me without asking, I feel controlled, which is upsetting. I’d like to play an active and independent role in our decisions. I am my own person and deserve that respect.
2. When someone criticizes you harshly.
When you talk to me in that tone of voice and say mean words, I feel less than. It hurts in ways I don’t think you understand. Do you mean to hurt my feelings? If you really want me to be sad and hurt, then you’ll keep talking to me that way, but I am asking you to stop.
3. When someone ignores you needs or refuses to help.
My needs are legitimate. When you ignore them by refusing to help me, I feel rejected, like you simply don’t care about me. Do you care about me? If you do, then please be responsive when I need something from you. I care about you and expect the same commitment from you in return.
4. When you are being bullied by an emotional abuser.
You’re bullying me right now. Did you know that? I don’t know how you define bullying, but what you’re doing now is an example of bullying to me. And I’m scared. It’s hard to live with someone you’re scared of and I’d like you to understand that. Will you please stop bullying so that I can feel safe around you?
5. When an emotional abuser is berating children. [pets, employees, other partners]
How you’re communicating to our child [pets, employees, other partners] is mean. Do you see the look on his/her face? I don’t know what kind of relationship you want with your kids [pets, employees, other partners] , but the path you’re on will ultimately lead to no relationship at all. One day, your son/daughter [pets, employees, other partners] will reject you wholeheartedly and you may never hear from him/her/them again – and this is directly related to how you are treating him/her/them now. Is that what you want?
It’s a start. These aren’t magic spells and so are likely to be met with resistance. Still, you need to start somewhere. You need mature and thoughtful words, consistently, in order to set your boundaries and possibly break through to the abuser.
Practice. If you think these scripts help (worded in your style) then use them. Words are powerful tools that can change the world. Not all emotional abusers will change, but some do have that capacity and may ultimately turn a corner.
Only you can decide how much to put up with, if and when you will leave the situation for good. In the meantime, learn the right words to use to empower yourself.
What helped me leave my abusive relationship?
1) I somehow lucked into a good network of friends: HFS, the Austin Poly Group, the folks at No Kidding, and most importantly the SBC. Their love and support, plus my observations into their relationships--both good and bad--helped me to see my own situation clearly for what it was. And was not.
2) I somehow managed to tap into a fundamental truth about myself that I had let myself forget: I am a good person and I don't deserve to be treated like this. Once that realization came to the surface, I was no longer able to tolerate being mistreated, spoken to rudely, ignored, financially abused, and cheated on.
Thank you to my friends and family. Even, or perhaps especially, the ones I'm not on speaking terms with anymore. My love and gratitude you always have, even if circumstances prevent us from being in one anothers lives at this point in time.