Breaking out of an abusive relationship is harder than it sounds. In order to manage it, the victim needs to become empowered and either set the terms of the relationship or put an end to it. The following five steps are taken, once again, from Mrs. Hirigoyen’s book “Le harcèlement moral: la violence perverse au quotidien”.
- Acknowledge: As we wake up from the daze of being pummeled by constant abuse, we open our eyes to see a very different world from the one we used to know or made ourselves believe existed. It’s like our world got hit by a massive earthquake or a hurricane. The difference from a natural phenomenon of mass destruction is that you have a culprit responsible for it. This wasn’t natural. It was an injustice.
- Assess: As you begin to understand how you were manipulated and used, you will likely become upset and angry with the bully. It’s OK to feel indignant and sad. However, it’s crucial that you do not let that anger reverse your roles where you become a bully. This is often how bullies are made. You have a right to be angry, to be respected, and to speak up when you feel violated in any way. Those rights have been downplayed and denied to you while under the bully’s influence.
- New Strategies: Set boundaries, with the intention of opening up communication, breaking the isolation, and protecting yourself from falling prey to the bully’s paralyzing traps that aim at forcing you into your former victim role. Like a narcissist, the bully feels like he’s entitled to overstep boundaries and take what he wants, without giving so much as a single thought to the fact that he’s violating your rights.
- Stand Your Ground: Expect tantrums to test how far you will go before one of you gives up. This tantrum doesn’t have to be physical (throwing or breaking something). A good dose of passive aggression and guilt-trip is as good as any tantrum. “If you ever give in to a tantrum, you’re back to square one; it’s reinforced that if they stick to their guns, they’ll win and you’ll relent.” (Brown, 2014)
- Free Yourself: The relationship dynamic has to end in order for the victim to become truly free. Validate where validation is due, but do not condone the abusive treatment in any way. Thus you provide some healing to that narcissistic injury through your validation and, through your boundaries, protect yourself.
As a now empowered person, you no longer play the victim and you show others to do the same through your own example.
Delisle, Jonathan; https://lighthousecounselling.wordpress.com/2014/09/19/breaking-the-bullying-cycle/
Hirigoyen, M.-F.; Le harcèlement moral : la violence perverse au quotidien; Éditions La Découverte et Syros, Paris, 1998; ISBN :978-2-266-22277-8
Brown, H. (2014). How To Deal with the Narcissist in Your Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/bonding-time/2014/03/how-to-deal-with-the-narcissist-in-your-life/
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA