NOTES ON ABUSE – EFFECTS OF ABUSE
1. Low or no self-esteem
2. Often feels responsible and blames self
3. Inability to trust self and others (may trust, but trusts wrong people)
4. Sense of worthlessness
5. Isolation
6. Sense of being helpless
7. Strong denial system
8. Low or no body awareness
9. Numb the pain with drinking, drugging, sexing, eating, etc.
10. Physical and medical symptoms – may be a lot of body complaints
11. Prostitution
12. Suicide – taking anger out on self
13. Sense of emptiness
14. Loss of playfulness and spontaneity
15. Many become abusive

“PROTECTIVE” DEFENSES USED TO DEAL WITH ABUSE
These defenses interfere with developing relationships on an adult level.
1. Silence
2. Denial – may be believing it’s not happening
3. Dissociation – “becoming the spot on the ceiling”
4. Numb feelings
5. Change feelings – from anger to ______________
6. Change meaning of abuse – child may be told, “This is good for you”, so child may think “Doesn’t
this happen to all kids?”
7. Isolation – stay away from home, etc.

RECOVERY FROM ABUSE
1. Share your story – you don’t need to deal with pain alone
2. Believe your story – you have a tendency to discount
3. Establish perpetrator responsibility – recognize it isn’t about you
4. Address the addictions used to numb the pain
5. Realize you can deal with the pain without mood altering substances
6. Learn to recognize, then accept, and then communicate feelings
7. Learn to nurture yourself
8. Build self-esteem and positive body image (affirmations)
9. Deal with family of origin – break the code of secrecy – by writing and talking with other people
10. Learn to be playful
11. Learn that now you do have a chance to live, you do have choices – YOU NEED NOT BE A
VICTIM
12. Take back your power – act responsibly, set boundaries that feel comfortable, control sexual
behavior – you can control who enters your life
13. Remind yourself of your strengths
14. Learn you can say “No”
15. Learn to give and receive criticism
16. Stop abusing others

Taken from the ACA WSO website

Advertisements

I had been married for about 10 years.  I knew he was having affairs.  I had even talked to a couple of the bolder ones on the phone who had the nerve to call his home, MY home, the home of our CHILDREN!  One of them I remember kept asking “Who are you?”  I responded “HIS WIFE !  who are you?”  Well, after several go-rounds with this particular robin, I knew this conversation was going nowhere fast and hung up.  You might, with righteous indignation demand, “What did he say when you confronted him?”  But, sadly, at that point in my life, my already hugely battered self-esteem would not allow me to even attempt to confront him one more time.  I couldn’t have taken watching him stand there in front of me and blandly lie to me yet again over his inappropriate behavior.  If he had said to me one more time, “I don’t know who it was, must have been a wrong number.”  This was way before the days of caller ID, mind you.   I would have just disintegrated right there on the spot.  Ya’know, just like how they show the vampires on TV, when they get struck by the sun, one minute they are standing there in full view of everyone, the sun comes up and poof!  all that remains where they were standing is this cloud of smoke and dust.  That would have been me.   I just couldn’t’ve take it again….

This obviously wasn’t the first one and I was completely convinced that as long as I stayed there would continue to be others.  I had two children under 10 years old and wasn’t working at the time.  Children needed their father, didn’t they?  Children in a family together, even when it was not good, was still better than children from a divorced family, wasn’t that what everyone said?

This was all happening during the early 80’s.  We were enlightened back then.  Feminism was alive and active.  So where did it all go wrong? Now, I think it was all wrong before it ever started, but that is another story for another day.  But back then, I thought it was all my fault.  I wasn’t pretty enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t a good enough housekeeper, and on and on, ad nauseam….

There was a part of me that knew he loved me, or so I told myself.  And yet, the scene that kept running through my head was this:

“If I could find a tree, just the right size tree, and run my car into it, not too hard, but just hard enough, ….  I could knock myself out, be unconscious for 4-5 days, he would come RUNNING to my bedside, sit there as the handsome, distraught, young loving husband, holding my hand, gently stroking it, repeating over and over again how sorry he was, what a schmuck he had been, could I ever forgive him, please come back to him and give him another chance, how he would never mess up again…. Then, after he was sufficiently scared that he might actually lose me,  I would miraculously come out of my coma, with absolutely no brain damage, tell him I heard every word he had said to me while I was unconscious and how I completely forgave him, because I know knew that he would be forever faithful, now that he had almost lost me and realized how much he really did love me. ”

Jeez, Louise!  What FANTASIES we can come up with to appease our broken hearts!  …  and our bruised and battered self-esteem.

I was probably 4 or 5 years into recovery when it finally dawned on me as I heard another woman talking around a table.  She was telling a story about HER FANTASY, and I thought, “oh, my, gawd, she is suicidal!”.  Then and there, in that moment of recognition, it dawned on me that I had been suicidal.  If anyone had asked me at the time that was all going on if I was suicidal I would have completely denied that I was, at that time suicidal, or had ever been suicidal.  After all, it was just a little fantasy, wasn’t it???  …..  It probably took me another 5 years before I could tell that story for myself sitting around a table….  Finally admitting, that yes, I had been suicidal for several years when I got into recovery

Just Lexxie, Chatterin’ Again!


In the Big Red Book for Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families you will find this list of 25 questions.  They can help you determine if alcoholism or other family dysfunction existed in your family.  If your parents did not drink, your grandparents may have drank and passed on the disease of family dysfunction to your parents.  These questions can offer you insight into some of the ways children are affected by growing up with a problem drinker even years after leaving the home.  These questions also apply to adults growing up in homes where food, sex, workaholism, or ultra-religious abuse occurred.  Many foster children, now adults, also relate to these questions.

1.  Do you recall anyone drinking or taking drugs or being involved in some other behavior that you now believe could be dysfunctional?

2.  Did you avoid bringing friends to your home because of drinking or some other dysfunctional behavior in the home?

3.  Did one of your parents make excuses for their other parent’s drinking or other behaviors?

4.  Did your parents focus on each other so much that they seemed to ignore you?

5.  Did your parents or relatives argue constantly?

6.  Were you drawn into arguments or disagreements and asked to choose sides with one parent or relative against another?

7.  Did you try to protect your brothers or sisters against drinking or other behavior in the family?

8.  As an adult, do you feel immature?  Do you feel like you are a child inside?

9.  As an adult, do you believe you are treated like a child when you interact with your parents?   Are you continuing to live out a childhood role with your parents?

10.  Do you believe that it is your responsibility to take care of your parents’ feelings or worries?  Do other relatives look to you to solve their problems?

11.  Do you fear authority figures and angry people?

12.  Do you constantly seek approval or praise but have difficulty accepting a compliment when one comes your way?

13.  Do you see most forms of criticism as a personal attack?

14.  Do you over commit yourself and then feel angry when others do not appreciate what you do?

15.  Do you think you are responsible for the way another person feels or behaves?

16.  Do you have difficulty identifying feelings?

17.  Do you focus outside yourself for love or security?

18.  Do you involve yourself in the problems of others?  Do you feel more alive when there is a crisis?

19.  Do you equate sex with intimacy?

20.  Do you confuse love and pity?

21.  Have you found yourself in a relationship with a compulsive or dangerous person and wonder how you got there?

22.  Do you judge yourself without mercy and guess at what is normal?

23.  Do you behave one way in public and another way at home?

24.  Do you think your parents had a problem with drinking or taking drugs?

25.  Do you think you were affected by the drinking or other dysfunctional behavior of your parents or family?

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these questions, you may be suffering from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or other dysfunctional family.  Please take the time to attend our ACA meeting or find one in your area to learn more.


Had a Hospital Stay  — Obvious
Had to call the Police — Obvious
Had to call an Ambulance — Obvious
Guns, Knives, Blood  — Obvious
Threatened Your Life – and you believed it — Obvious
Threatened to Take Their Own Life – and you believed it –Obvious
Broken Bones — Obvious
Black eye  / Fat Lip —  Obvious
Bruises where they can be covered by clothing — A Direct Message to You
You FEEL beat up – even though you were never hit

And yet, many partners, even after experiencing several of the above situations, don’t want to believe that they are in an abusive relationship, don’t want to believe that it will happen again, and again, and again….  until they get out and stay out!

Abuse in a relationship, whether it be dating, a marriage, any family member, a job, or a friendship,  can take many forms.  Verbal, Emotional, Psychological, Sexual, and, of course, Physical.  Many times, even with broken bones and bruises, we have a tendency to minimize what is happening.  We might say to ourselves, “Well, at least he doesn’t HIT me, he would NEVER hit me.”  And that seems to be enough.   For some of us, being faithful in the relationship is our final boundary.  And again, we might find ourselves saying, “He/She doesn’t screw around on me!”  Because, that would be more than we could tolerate.  Many times, the final boundary is about money.  “My partner/mate has a job, brings their check home and is holding up their end of the financial part of the relationship.”

Are we setting the bar way too low?  Are these the bare minimum kinds of expectations?  Today, I can say, Yeah! This bar is way too low! But, there are lots of ways that abusive behavior can creep into our relationships, and depending on what we saw growing up, we don’t even have a clue that it IS abusive.   When someone confront us, asking, “Why do you let _____ get away with treating you like that?!”  We find ourselves shocked that anyone would consider it abusive.

Some kinds of abuse, usually in the beginning, are very subtle, so subtle that we don’t even recognize it as abuse.   But then what do we ACoA’s/children from dysfunctional families,  know about what is normal?  They may say hurtful things, or embarrass you just to see how you respond.  Will you tolerate the behavior, make excuses for it, or do you immediately let your partner know that you will not tolerate that treatment from them or anyone?  Here is a checklist that might help in recognizing if YOUR relationship is abusive…

CHECKLIST  (provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Does your partner…

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? (psychological abuse)
  • Put down your accomplishments or goals? (psychological abuse)
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? (psychological abuse)
  • Use intimidation or threats to get you to do what they want?
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
  • Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you don’t want to do?
  • Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of  what your partner would do if you broke-up or left?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.

(Adapted from Reading and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence, Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Lincoln, NE).
If you need help please call 911 or The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 404-688-9436