PATTERN is the key element to this concept of emotional abuse, and just because someone is ugly one day doesn't make them abusive.
I think people tend to overuse the word 'emotional abuse' myself. ABUSE in general tends to be overused as well. Abuse is a 'PATTERN' of behavior not just being what the world calls a 'jerk' on occasion. Can't name a person on earth that hasn't been guilty of that!
Recently, I heard a pastor describe this very well. I will try to place it in a nutshell for you. He mentioned that week he had worked with a number of others at the church on a project he was responsible for. They didn't do something his way, and he got all bent out shape over it. Instead of handling it the way we are asked to he basically had a temper tantrum instead. His behavior was far from acceptable. He had one of those moments we have all had when we realize we opened our mouths, and placed our foot into it instead! "OH! I can't believe I just said that!" type of moments! He had to humble himself, and he had to go to the others and apologize and ask forgiveness. He truly repented of this. This wasn't normal behavior for him, and he was genuine about his asking for forgiveness, and repented of his bad behavior.
His behavior isn't called abusive because it isn't a pattern of behavior for him.
- If he had a pattern of blowing a gasket when people on projects didn't do things his way it could be different.
- If he apologized to people more to save face more then out of genuine repentance that would be completely different as well.
- If his apology was full of blame shifting, "I realize I was acting awful, but if you guys would have JUST done what I asked in the first place it may NOT have happened!" This is an example of NOT being very sorry!
I'm sure we have all experienced those types of 'apologies' in the past, and we also know they were NOT very geniune in nature.
Another thing people tend to get mixed up about is the fact that a person that can be emotional abusive can also be a nice, caring person at times.
Just because they happen to be a broken soul that acts sinfully towards others at times because of wrong habit patterns doesn't mean they can't also be nice at times. It also doesn't mean they can't be genuine with their repentance as well at times.
Some people that are emotionally abusive WILL apologize after a while, and some will never mutter a word! Some will say they will stop the behavior, but that normally happens when their world has fallen down around them. Remember a couple of things:
- If the pattern of behavior continues, and they don't do anything about it chances are they aren't all that genuine.
- If they seek out help, and then make excuses about how that can't continue is another sign.
- If they flat out deny things, and tell others they are basically blowing it out of proportion, being to sensitive, or claim that most people act like this another good sign.
- Complain they can't do this (help, accountability, etc) with others, because they don't wish others to know their personal business.
- Claim their partners behavior is just as bad, and when are they going to address their's also?
- Make excuses about how the therapist or counselor would be bias against them for all kinds of reasons.
- Claim they can't help it due to their past. ie: child abuse, etc.
- They claim its just a bad temper, and YOU know they don't MEAN IT!
People on the receiving end of emotional abuse (remember its a pattern) either tend to get defensive at times, or they start to doubt themselves. They can be upfront in their approach to this person about their hurt over the emotional abuse, and their partner will respond with either:
- Not allowing the person to finish their thought
- Twisting what they said to tell them what they really mean. Normally very extreme twisting at that!
- Mock or Ridicule them
- Tell them they are being HURT themselves by listening to a complaint from their partner
- Totally ignoring them or silent treatment
- Pouts or storms off
- Diverts the attention off themselves with statements like: "YOUR not perfect either!" "If you wouldn't do that I would have to act this way!" "I have to do this otherwise YOU won't listen!"
These are just a few. The end equation is that the person that is trying to get the point across about the HURT, or are attempting to explain themselves is brushed off in all kinds of ways.
I think people get this concept of emotional abuse confused by the fact that anyone can be a jerk on occasion. Anyone can call someone names, and anyone can come across as cold and unfeeling. What I tend to get confused about is that when there is a pattern there, and people are reaching out and people offer simplistic advice.
MAYBE you just need to be in a better MOOD most of the time!
Maybe they don't feel loved or respected, and THAT's way they are acting ugly!
People tend to place that burden of their pain right back on their plates. YOU can do something to make this stop in other words. LOOK at your actions, and maybe you are causing this. That's junk! That's excuses of people that don't want to get involved. Pattern show issues with the emotional abusive person that is causing the behavior in this case!
The key here is PATTERN! If your partner has a pattern of mocking, screaming, pushing you to your limit, etc..........THINK! People say we are responsible for our own actions all the time. Why is it when there is a pattern involved, and you mention this pattern they say YOU are responsible! YOU need to change so it doesn't happen. When you take your first step to realizing YOU aren't doing anything to make them blow their stacks... YOU are taking the first step towards doing something about it.
People are responsible for their own actions, and even if someone is 'pushing their buttons'.........that doesn't change. Don't allow others to tell you that is does.
You can find lists of behaviors on emotional abuse all over the internet, so I won't supply you that. I want to give you the key ingredent that most miss out on - and that is PATTERN! PATTERN is the key!
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