There are many different levels and types of abuse. Any relationship, personal or otherwise is susceptible to it. Sometimes, abuse is easily recognized, other times, it is more subtle. Abuse can be intentional, or it can be unintentional. Sometimes abusive behavior is the only way the abuser knows how to deal with their fear, anger or frustration. You might be surprised to learn that when someone habitually crosses your personal boundaries, it is a form of abuse and shows a lack of respect for you. Whatever form it takes, abusive or bullying behavior toward another, is never okay. Yet, we often tolerate this type of behavior by staying in the relationship and remaining silent.
Why don’t we stand up to the bullies and the boundary crashers in our lives and let them know we will not allow them to treat us in a disrespectful manner? Many of us were taught to “turn the other cheek” or to be “nice”, even when others behave badly. We were told not to rock the boat or sink to the other person’s level. Sometimes, we are simply embarrassed by our circumstance or we were taught that a person’s private life should remain private and should never be discussed with anyone outside the family. Unfortunately, some of us take the idea that our private life should be kept private, too literally. We do not understand that there are situations where it is not only appropriate, but critical to our well-being, to bring the abuse out in the open. There many more reasons why people stay in abusive relationships.
Please consider this, when we allow others to behave disrespectfully toward us, we do a disservice to ourselves and the boundary crasher or abuser too. Ideally, we would let the abusive person know that although we care about them deeply, we will no longer receive or accept their abusive or rude behavior. This is easier said than done, especially if we believe that speaking up for ourself would hurt the other person’s feelings. But standing up for ourself is not only an act of self-love, it is also an act of love toward the other person. How is it an act of love toward the other person? It provides him with honest feedback about his behavior. It clearly lets him know that particular behavior is not acceptable to you. It gives him the opportunity to examine his behavior and to get help if he decides this is not how he wants to show up in life or the relationship. If you remain silent, you send the message that his abusive behavior toward you is okay and therefore, it is not necessary for him to change that behavior.
If you do decide to confront the bully in your life, be prepared to back up your statements. Once you tell someone that their behavior is no longer going to be accepted or tolerated, you must be ready to follow through with action. Failure to take action, will result in you not being taken seriously and the abusive behavior will probably continue. If you struggle with knowing how to handle the boundary crashers and abusers in your life, set up an appointment with a therapist. A good therapist can provide insight and tools that will help you take better care of yourself.
When you do stand up to the abusive person in your life, don’t be surprised if he chooses not to hear or accept what is being said to him. In that case, it is necessary for the person who is being abused, to put physical distance between herself and the abuser. In some situations, it is simply not safe to have a face to face discussion with an abusive person and the only way to end the abuse, is to leave the relationship. Typically, people take action when staying in an abusive environment becomes more frightening or painful than the idea of leaving. You don’t have to wait until things go from bad to worse.
If you are in a physically abusive relationship, ask for help and support from trusted family members and friends. Or, contact a local shelter that specializes in offering support to victims of abuse. Talk to an attorney to determine what course of action you want to take and what legal protection is available to you. A psychotherapist who is experienced in dealing with abusive relationships, would also be extremely helpful to you at this time.
You deserve to experience life in a way that is free of the worry of emotional or physical harm. You deserve to have people close to you who make you feel good about yourself. Make a decision to remove the toxic people from your life. If you can’t completely remove them from your life, at least restrict the amount of time you spend with them.