How can you put a stop to marital abuse?
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There are two ways to go about stopping marital abuse: being submissive or being conflictive.
I. The Submissive Posture
Abusers react to the slightest provocation real or imagined with disproportionate wrath and, often, violence. It is important, therefore, never to openly and repeatedly disagree with your abuser or contradict him. If you do your abuser is bound to walk away, but only after he has vilified and harmed you in every way he can.
Abusers feel threatened by real sharing and common decision-making. Never offer your abuser any intimacy it is a sure way to turn him off and his aggression on. Abusers perceive intimacy as the prelude to manipulation ("What is she getting at? What does she really want? What is her hidden agenda?").
Abusers are narcissistic so admire and adore them openly. But do not lie or exaggerate this will be perceived as cunning and will provoke your abuser to feats of paranoia and jealousy. Look awed by whatever matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or even by his success with other women).
The abuser tries to transform his personal space into the exact opposite of his real life. At home, he is the master of a fantasy of perfection and harmony and the undisputed recipient of adulation and obeisance. Any reminder that, in reality, his life is a drab dead end, that he is a failure, or a tyrant, or a swindler, or a wannabe, sometimes hated by his own oppressed family is likely to be met with unbridled hostility.
Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity. Reassure him of the permanence of your obedient and self-sacrificial love for him. Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.
Listen attentively to his words and never disagree, or contradict him or offer your point of view. You are there to witness the abuser's train of thought not to derail it with reminders of your separate existence. Be saintly patient and accommodating and endlessly giving with nothing in return. Never let your energy be depleted or your guard down.
Your abuser is likely to be provoked to extremes by signs of your personal autonomy. Conceal your thoughts and plans, make no overt choices and express no preferences, never mention your emotions, needs, earnings, wages, profits, or trust money. Tell him how much you rely on him to reach the right decisions for both of you. Play dumb - but not too dumb, or it may be provoke his suspicions. It is a thin line between pleasing the abuser and rendering him a raving paranoid.
Never give your abuser cause to doubt or suspect you. Surrender all control to him, deny yourself access to property and funds, don't socialize, drop all your friends and hobbies, quit your job and your studies, and confine yourself to your abode. Your abuser is bound to be virulently jealous and suspect illicit liaisons between you and the least likely persons, your family included. He envies the attention you give to others, even to your common children. Place him on a pedestal and make sure he notices how you ignore, spurn, and neglect everyone else.
To your abuser, you are an object, no matter how ostensibly revered and cherished. Hence the battering. He monopolizes your time and your mind. He makes for you even the minutest choices: what to wear, what to cook for dinner, when to go out and with whom. In extreme cases, he regards even your body as his to share with others, if he sees fit.
It is an onerous existence, consistently tiptoeing on eggshells. Neither is it invariably successful. The submissive posture delays the more egregious manifestations of marital abuse but cannot prevent them altogether. Choosing to live with an abuser is like opting to share a cage with a predator. No matter how domesticated, Nature is bound to prevail. You are more likely than not to end up as the abuser's next meal.
Unless, that is, you adopt the Conflictive Posture.
II. The Conflictive Posture
Contrary to its name, the conflictive posture is actually about avoiding conflict by minimizing contact and insisting on boundaries. It is about refusal to accept abusive behavior by demanding reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. It is about respect for you and for your predilections, preferences, emotions, needs, and priorities.
A healthy relationship requires justice and proportionality. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behavior. Conflicts are inevitable even in the most loving and mature bonds but the rules of engagement are different in an abusive liaison. There, you must react in kind and let him taste some of his own medicine.
Abusers are predators, attuned to the subtlest emotional cues of their prey. Never show your abuser that you are afraid or that you are less than resolute. The willingness to negotiate is perceived as a weakness by bullies. Violent offenders are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail or emotional extortion once you start compromising, you won't see the end of it.
The abuser creates a "shared psychosis" (folie a deux) with his victim, an overwhelming feeling of "the two of us against the whole world". Don't buy into it. Feel free to threaten him (with legal measures), to disengage if things get rough- or to involve law enforcement officers, friends, neighbours, and colleagues.
Here are a few counterintuitive guidelines:
The abused feel ashamed, somehow responsible, guilty, and blameworthy for their maltreatment. The abuser is adept at instilling these erroneous notions in his victims ("Look what you made me do!"). So, above all, do not keep your marital abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon. Share your story with friends, colleagues, neighbors, social workers, the police, the media, your minister, and anyone else who will listen.
Don't make excuses for him. Don't try to understand him. Do not empathize with him - he, surely, does not empathize with you. He has no mercy on you you, in return, do not harbor misplaced pity for him. Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression. Teach him a lesson he is unlikely to forget. Make him go elsewhere for his sadistic pursuits or to offload his frustrations.
Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser. Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.
There are a few techniques which work wonders with abusers. Some psychologists recommend to treat repeat offenders as one would toddlers. The abuser is, indeed, an immature brat though a dangerous one, endowed as he is with the privileges and capabilities of an adult. Sometimes ignoring his temper tantrums until it is over is a wise policy. But not very often and, definitely not as a rule.
Here is a recap from previous articles:
(1) Mirror His Behavior
Mirror his actions and repeat his words.
If, for instance, he is having a rage attack rage back. If he threatens threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level.
(1b) Frighten Him
Identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating blows at them.
If a narcissist has a secret or something he wishes to conceal use your knowledge of it to threaten him. Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. Do it cleverly, noncommittally, gradually, in an escalating manner.
Let his imagination do the rest. You don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous allusion, delineate a possible turn of events.
Needless to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done in the wrong way they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offences.
(1c) Lure Him
Offer him continued Narcissistic Supply. You can make a narcissist do anything by offering, withholding, or threatening to withhold Narcissistic Supply (adulation, admiration, attention, sex, awe, subservience, etc.).
(1d) Play on his Fear of Abandonment
If nothing else works, explicitly threaten to abandon him.
You can condition the threat ("If you don't do something or if you do it I will desert you").
The narcissists perceives the following as threats of abandonment, even if they are not meant as such:
- Confrontation, fundamental disagreement, and protracted criticism
- When completely ignored
- When you insist on respect for your boundaries, needs, emotions, choices, preferences
- When you retaliate (for instance, shout back at him).
(1e) Refuse All Contact
sure to maintain as much contact with your abuser as the courts, counsellors,
mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate.
- Do NOT contravene the decisions of the system. Work from the inside to change judgments, evaluations, or rulings but NEVER rebel against them or ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and your interests.
- But with the exception of the minimum mandated by the courts - decline any and all gratuitous contact with the narcissist.
- Do not respond to his pleading, romantic, nostalgic, flattering, or threatening e-mail messages.
- Return all gifts he sends you.
- Refuse him entry to your premises. Do not even respond to the intercom.
- Do not talk to him on the phone. Hang up the minute you hear his voice while making clear to him, in a single, polite but firm, sentence, that you are determined not to talk to him.
- Do not answer his letters.
- Do not visit him on special occasions, or in emergencies.
- Do not respond to questions, requests, or pleas forwarded to you through third parties.
- Disconnect from third parties whom you know are spying on you at his behest.
- Do not discuss him with your children.
- Do not gossip about him.
- Do not ask him for anything, even if you are in dire need.
- When you are forced to meet him, do not discuss your personal affairs or his.