Question about abusing

Michael left a comment and asked an interesting question:


Question for you: in order to sort of immunize myself from being an abusive person (you know that victims often become victimizers — scary but common statistic) what are the best steps?

I had been verbally abusive and nearly physically abusive to my ex-spouse and baby daughter, and even though everything is literally amazing right now with the two of them, I just want to keep taking steps to make sure I’m okay and they’re okay.

I don’t want to “fall asleep on the job” just to have the wrong set of circumstances set me off. What are some links to some preventative medicine against becoming an abuser.

I suppose just being part of a community of people who understand helps. People to talk with who will understand and stand by you. Know of anything like that?

It’s been a couple of days since he left this comment and I haven’t responded yet. Part of that was just being busy, but part of it was also a desire to mull it over a bit. I’m still not really sure how to answer his question, simply because I’m a bit vague on the concept, to be honest.

Not that I haven’t seen the same statistics and have a general understanding of why the stats are what they are. But from a personal perspective, I really have no idea. All the rage, anger and hatred that came from my own abuse was always directed inward. I never considered myself a threat to other people around me, I was a threat to myself first and foremost. I’ve never been one to lose my temper in public, or throw violent fits. I’ve been one to self-destruct in private. 🙂

That being said, the rage and anger is similar and I can only imagine that the same things that have helped me learn not to be self-destructive would help someone stay “on the job”, as it were, regarding being abusive towards other. Namely, learning how to accept myself, and how to accept life. Learning that there are very few things in life that I can control, and that I should concentrate on those rather than frustrating myself trying to control things that cannot be, learning how to make healthy decisions, and learning how to be happy with my life. Those are the things that keep me balanced, and awake on my own job. What other ideas have you guys got?


Technorati tags: RepeatingAbuse, SelfAbuse

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  1. I suppose Michael is basically talking about triggers. Certain things that might look small to other people can set off huge anger and rage in me because of emotional associations from my past. I don´t think there´s any medicine out there that would help. I think it´s simply a matter of awareness (“staying awake on the job”), and with time and practice it gets easier and the the triggers become less powerful. In my experience, it has been about getting more in touch with myself, in the sense of being very aware of how I´m feeling from moment to moment and not running away from being aware of myself because the feelings are difficult. Also, respecting those feelings, no matter what they are. Respecting my insecurities and fragility, even if they attract disrespect or misunderstanding from other people, because it´s not my fault I have those, it was put in me from the people who abused me. Not forcing myself to do things I don´t want to do or am not comfortable doing. Doing things I like doing. Generally reinforcing the feeling that I´m ok, which doesn´t mean I´m necessarily always happy, but the feeling that I as a person am ok. I find then that I feel less desire to take things out on other people or on myself because I don´t want to violate the “I am ok” feeling by violating other people (which is also a way of violating your own self and integrity) or my own feelings and needs.

    Recently I´ve found meditating useful. This sense of self and being ok has gotten stronger in me recently, and I was looking for a way to reinforce it and keep bad stuff out of me. I don´t necessarily have to be alone to do this – what I do is I go inside myself and get into the feeling of going into “my space”, where all my feelings and thoughts and everything about me are. And I make it very clear to myself what is in my space and what belongs in other people´s spaces. If it´s my stuff, it stays in my space and I tell myself not to put it on other people. It helps me to be more selective about what to put out there and what not, and it keeps other people´s bad stuff that belongs in their space (like my abusers) out of my space. If it´s not in my space, it´s not in my mind and it´s out of my heart. There is still sadness for the past and the abuse, but I have more respect for it now and I don´t fight against it so much.

    Hopefully this makes some sense(!)

  2. From the stats the NSPCC have about repeat offending it is more likely that male victims will become offenders themselves. Why should this be the case? The abused want to escape the abuse, so why repeat it?

    I suspect that there is less help available for males. Males find it harder to ask for assistance and I think those who can help finder it harder to reach out to males, or help specifically for males is harder to find/access.

    I think in many ways child abuse is much taboo for a male than a female for all sorts of reasons, specifically the issues of same gender abuse. And, as I’ve mentioned, the horrific stigma of being labelled potential offender rather than survivor.

    It’s a vicious cycle.

    Triggers are difficult to handle because often you are not aware of them until you are in the process of being triggered. General counselling helps identify when you are being triggered and how to reign yourself in. It also helps you express the issues underlying your disappointment and anger that you were not protected.

    I suspect that Michael is finding it hard with a baby daughter. He wants to protect her in a way that he wasn’t. In doing so he is creating a massive parental perfection barrier that he can’t possibly measure up to, gets frustrated and lashes out.

    This is only a superficial reading of his post, as I don’t know him or the specifics of his lashing out. Just I know the pressure to recreate a perfect childhood for your own kids, one so unlike your own.

    There’s plenty of issues surrounding having children after a difficult childhood yourself. For example, I was always paranoid about changing my child in public in case people thought I was looking at her genitals in too much details. I think it was easy to overcome intimate contact because she was the same gender as me.

    Pregnant again and about to give birth, I worry that if this baby is a boy how will I feel about things like breastfeeding. It’s a complex web of parenting and disassociating caring, disipline, love, boundaries with abuse.

    I wish Michael much luck.

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