Yesterday’s and today’s Daily Post Writing Prompts go together really well.
I have come to find in my study of abusive character that the words “abusive” and “toxic” are pretty much synonymous.
I have also come to find that abusers tell us who they are, if we know what to look for. They warn us. They warn us way, way before they ever hit us, call us a name, control our money, or use our children as pawns.
Those things, and many more, are all methods of abuse. Abuse is set of many behaviors that can vary-but all come together to serve a singular purpose-to control and dominate another person. Although the methods vary, abusers themselves tend to exhibit certain characteristics across the board. They are red flags that should tell you to tread carefully, this is not a person you want to invite into your life.
Here are just a few of their greatest hits:
- Abusers are victims. They all have many sob stories. They invite you to rescue them. Rescuing them will keep your eyes on the supposed reasons for their behavior instead of the fact they are not stopping it.
- An abuser does not take responsibility for their own behavior. The ex-girlfriend was a cheater, the boss is a tyrant, their mom abandoned them, you made them angry-whatever-it’s never their fault.
- Another thing I’ve seen is abusers play “delicate”. It sort of ties in with the two above. They can’t handle the “stress” of the kids, their job, your illness, whatever-and it excuses them for lashing out and/or acting like a tyrant.
- Abusers lack empathy for other people-they laugh when something horrible is happening to someone during the movie, they blame the woman on the news who just got attacked, they “demonize” people without balance for why a person might be motivated into bad behavior, they like retelling stories of hurtful, violent, or vulgar things they’ve done. Another way this is manifested is by deflecting the persons pain to tell of how theirs is greater or worse.
These things are often subtle at first, as abusers are often on their best behavior in the beginning phase of a relationship, but if you look for them, you will be able to find them. Develop methods of conversation designed to show a person’s true colors. Listen for the quick, “yeah I did this thing, but they…”. Ask about relationships-look for a pattern of them being the victim. Watch if they try to pull you in to rescue them-from their hurt, their stress-whatever. Sometimes these things can be hard to define-so also pay attention to and trust your gut. Sometimes our sixth sense about people is telling us all we need to know.
Looking for the signs now-listening to your gut now-can save you a whole lot of trouble later on.
For more information on this subject, I highly recommend Lundy Bancroft, http://lundybancroft.com/
My favorite description of the abusive cycle: http://outofthefog.website/top-100-trait-blog/2015/10/21/abusive-cycle
The Power and Control wheel: A greatest hits, but not exhaustive, list of what those methods of abuse look like: