Abuse isn’t just about bruises. Not all forms of abuse leave bruises where we can see them,Dating A Victim Of Domestic Violence in South Africa . Although physical abuse is terrifying and needs to be addressed immediately there are other forms of abuse that can cause significant damage. One type of abuse that is very difficult for outsiders to detect is financial abuse. Marriage should be a partnership but when one spouse completely dominates the finances to the point that the other spouse has no control and no options financial abuse may be occurring.
What Are Signs of Potential Financial Abuse?
Every married couple handles their finances differently. In some cases one spouse handles the majority of the finances. They manage the accounts, pay the bills and deal with creditors. That does not by itself equal financial abuse.
Financial abuse occurs when one spouse is treated like an irresponsible child and Domestic Violence Facts . They are cut off from funds and their knowledge about the couple’s finances is severely limited. Some signs of financial abuse include:
•Strict Allowances. This isn’t an amount that the spouses have agreed to limit themselves to but is instead a set amount that is grudgingly handed out from one spouse to the other and is all that will be given.
Documents, documents, documents. Written evidence is incredibly strong and can range from credit card bills showing that there is a credit card but that you aren’t named on it to emails from your spouse that show the financial abuse.
Other witnesses can be incredibly powerful on your behalf. Financial abuse is hard for people outside the relationship to detect. So when someone credible comes in and tells the judge that it is happening and they can see it the judge will listen and Domestic Violence Groups .
Dating A Victim Of Domestic Violence in South Africa ?
Good self-esteem or positive identity is an asset to any person. It helps improve relationships, confidence, job performance and makes it easier to enjoy and embrace life to the fullest. When a person has been abused, their good self-esteem is threatened and often lost. Understanding how this happens and knowing practical ways to deal with it can be valuable tools in our self-help toolbox!
Each of us is born with the gift of individual person-hood. Our unique genetic make-up and DNA set us apart from all others. We have boundaries that help us to know where we stop and where others start. Inside of these boundaries and within the context of our individual person-hood, we are free to grow, to question, to risk, to explore and to experience life in our own unique way! If allowed to continue and encouraged from those closest to us, we become comfortable in our own skin (within our own boundaries) and a positive identity develops.
Abuse is an invasion of those boundaries; an attack on our individual person-hood. Abuse happens when someone stronger than ourselves overpowers us, either emotionally, physically, verbally or sexually. Even if the abuse is not "severe" in comparison to what others have experienced, the impact on our self-esteem can be severe. The boundaries between us and the perpetrator are blurred. We tend to own some or all of the blame for the abuse and thus take on what rightfully belongs to the invader. With our boundaries destroyed and our person-hood invaded, we are left vulnerable to the world around us and confused about who we really are.
A common reaction to the invasion of abuse is withdrawal. Sometimes the victim will withdraw so far that they actually dissociate from the event completely. This may be good in the long run except for the fact that the dissociation almost always involves other emotions, longings, fears and identity markers that can no longer be accessed. People who are extremely shy and introverted, people who are emotionally shut down and people who lack in social graces are often (not always) reacting to some kind of abuse. The invasion has left them afraid to feel, afraid to connect and afraid to make a mistake.
Another reaction to the invasion of abuse is an attempt to build a wall of defense. The feeling of vulnerability is countered by erecting some kind of wall that we believe will protect us. We can become very angry and keep others at arms length by our temper. We can become very controlling and thus minimize the possibility of future hurt. We can become very sarcastic or funny to deflect our real feelings. We can become an overachiever so that others will identify us by our accomplishments and not by our fears. These walls feel protective but are actually putting us in bondage. We cannot do life without our anger, control, sarcasm, humor or achievements so we are not free to be who we really are... we are forced to keep up the act... and that is exhausting.
This second reaction was my own way of dealing with childhood sexual abuse. I kept the walls firmly in place from age 11 until age 35. At that point, exhausted from trying to keep myself safe, I attempted suicide, not out of despair as much as out of exhaustion!
When we react in either of these ways to abuse, we end up losing ourselves, our true identity, our positive identity or self-esteem. There is another way. From my own experience I have learned the power of these positive and practical steps that can lead us out of brokenness and into confidence in who we really are. Consider the following:
1) Be honest about our abuse.
We cannot properly deal with all of the feelings and reactions associated with our abuse if we refuse to face what actually happened. As with any recovery program, admitting the problem is the beginning of healing.
2) Forgive those who hurt us.
Holding on to the anger, hatred, malice or even ambivalence toward our abuser only keeps us tied to them and to the abuse and its consequences. Forgiveness does not mean that you are saying it was no big deal. It is not saying that you would let them hurt you again. It is not saying that it did not happen. Forgiveness is simply a choice to release them after coming to the conclusion that there is nothing they could do that would take away what happened to us.
3) Surrender our coping mechanisms.
Just as we have to be honest about our abuse, we have to be honest about all of the ways that we have developed to try to help ourselves cope with the abuse. What walls have we erected? What masks have we put on to hide from others? What self-medicating habits have we picked up? Name these coping mechanisms and then willingly lay them down. We may need to invite a few people who are close to us into this process since we often have blind spots related to coping.
4) Embrace the truth about who we really are.
Learn to look beyond what happened to us to the person we really are on the inside. At this point, having a relationship with God is a key factor. If we have become connected with our Creator through the sacrifice of His Son Christ Jesus, we get our true identity from Him. We are His sons and daughter, regardless of our abuse, achievements, failures or coping mechanisms.
5) Join a safe community.
At this point, with walls torn down and feelings exposed, belonging to a community where we feel safe is vital. A support group, home group, counselor or accountability group can provide a place for us to grow in our new positive identity. People who know our need for healing and encouragement will be a great help in this process of rebuilding.
Commit with me not to allow past abuse in our lives to rob us of our positive identity. Choose life!
Abuse: What Causes Abuse?
We're all capable of abuse when we're frustrated or hurt. We may be guilty of criticizing, judging, withholding, and controlling, but some abusers, including narcissists, take abuse to a different level. Narcissistic Abuse can be physical, mental, emotional, sexual, financial, and/or spiritual. Some types of emotional abuse are not easy to spot, including manipulation. It can include emotional blackmail, using threats and intimidation to exercise control. Narcissists are masters of verbal abuse and manipulation. They can go so far as to make you doubt your own perceptions, called gaslighting.
The Motivation for Narcissistic Abuse
Remember that narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and abuse exist on a continuum, ranging from silence to violence. Rarely will a narcissist take responsibility for his or her behavior. Generally, they deny their actions, and augment the abuse by blaming the victim. Particularly, malignant narcissists aren't bothered by guilt. They can be sadistic and take pleasure in inflicting pain. They can be so competitive and unprincipled that they engage in anti-social behavior. Don't confuse narcissism with anti-social personality disorder.
The objective of narcissistic abuse is power. They act with the intent to diminish or even hurt other people. The most important thing to remember about intentional abuse is that it's designed to dominate you. Abusers' goals are to increase their control and authority, while creating doubt, shame, and dependency in their victims. They want to feel superior to avoid hidden feelings of inferiority. Understanding this can empower you. Like all bullies, despite their defenses of rage, arrogance, and self-inflation, they suffer from shame. Appearing weak and humiliated is their biggest fear. Knowing this, it's essential not to take personally the words and actions of an abuser. This enables you to confront narcissistic abuse.
Mistakes in Dealing with Abuse
When you forget an abuser's motives, you may naturally react in some of these ineffective ways:
1. Appeasement. If you placate to avoid conflict and anger, it empowers the abuser, who sees it as weakness and an opportunity to exert more control.
4. Set Boundaries. Boundaries are rules that govern the way you want to be treated. People will treat you the way you allow them to. You must know what your boundaries are before you can communicate them. This means getting in touch with your feelings, listening to your body, knowing your rights, and learning assertiveness. They must be explicit.
Don't hint or expect people to read your mind.
5. Have Consequences. After setting boundaries, if they're ignored, it's important to communicate and invoke consequences. These are not threats, but actions you take to protect yourself or meet your needs.
6. Be Educative. Research shows that narcissists have neurological deficits that affect their interpersonal reactions. You're best approach is to educate a narcissist like a child. Explain the impact of their behavior and provide incentives and encouragement for different behavior. This may involve communicating consequences. It requires planning what you're going to say without being emotional.
To respond effectively requires support. Without it, you may languish in self-doubt and succumb to abusive disinformation and denigration. It's challenging to change your reactions, let alone those of anyone else. Expect pushback when you stand up for yourself. This is another reason why support is essential. You will need courage and consistency. Whether or not the narcissist makes changes, you'll get tools to protect yourself and raise your self-worth that will improve how you feel whether you stay or leave. CoDA meetings and psychotherapy provide guidance and support.
Warning: If you're experiencing physical abuse, expect it to continue or escalate. Get help immediately.
© DarleneLancer 2018