Mental, Verbal, Sexual, Physical, Financial and Emotional Abuse
Abuse is Abuse!
For me, I think because I knew what it was like to be bullied, manipulated, and abused, I became part of the problem as I lived in a place of fear and feeling unsafe.
The stigma has been one of the worst parts of my journey with abuse over the years.
Many people have turned their heads and covered their ears and minds to my pain and story knowing very well I have been through some hard times.
I've been blown off, dismissed, straight up ignored (one of the worst), been told "Get over it", or "That's part of life".
Many people are very uncomfortable with what they think of as "Negativity".
All we want is for our journey to be accepted, and healed, heard and believed.
Instead, more abuse can occur, and the stigma continues.
Compassion and connection amongst people is critical.
Breaking the Stigma
My personal reflections based on my own experiences with abuse, but by no means am I a professional. Always seek help and other resources.
For the person who has been abusive, has witnessed abuse, or just is simply wanting to be educated.
Seek professional help.
Be Open! Be open to conversation and know that it's normal to feel uncomfortable.
If you see something, say something!
Simply be aware of yourself
CHANGE is possible
For the person who has been abused
Seek professional help.
Understand you may be in survival mode.
Release the pain in a constructive way that works for you. That may be, journaling, listening to a podcast, looking at a support group online, speaking to someone about your experience.
Work on Confidence
Give yourself Grace
Say NO to the little things, and as you do, the bigger things will become easier for you to use your voice towards.
Check back soon for MORE!
This is just a start
I have personally experienced mental, verbal, and emotional abuse in my life. I have also witnessed these forms of abuse in addition to elder abuse. The affects of abuse are more often life long, and can lead to suicide.
Abuse and Stigma MUST stop. Abuse is Abuse.
"They're just strict"
"At least it wasn't physical or sexual abuse"
Ignoring it all together
"la la la la"
"That person just has issues"
Stigma has to stop! Do not be part of the problem. Educating yourself is important. Check your habits and patterns. Learn how you can be a support to others.
If you are someone who has been through abuse, find your support. If you don't know where to start, that's okay. There are plenty of options!
What is Abuse?
Using people or taking advantage of them
Screaming / Yelling
Recognizing the root behaviors of abuse is very important. People should be educated on what to recognize in order to even address the issue.
Recognize the signs
of someone who has been abused
I am hyperaware of my surroundings
I get symptoms
My body feels heavily the same that others around me feel.
I need a slower paced life
I get overwhelmed easily
I am a deep thinker
People confide in me to listen and hear them
My energy gets depleted fast, especially by toxic people
Low self esteem and confidence
Focus on myself
Education is imperative to change. If your are someone on the outside looking in, please don't make the situation worse by taking the reaction of someone being abused personally. They are surviving and they need support.
My Abuse Story
Part of it
I was born to loving and very giving parents who wear their hearts on their sleeves. My brother and I are the same.
I learned from a young age by seeing my parents be bullied and intimidated by people in our lives.
Bullying was never looked at as abuse though and still isn't, even though it is.
In elementary school I was abused/bullied and pushed around by a few people, and I watched my brother get severely abused/bullied by others from a young age, far worse than I experienced.
The worst part was that educators, parents, and adults around us were not there to nip it. They were part of the problem because they let it happen.
As I grew older, I continued to be pushed around, but it wasn't until after my neck injury that I was abused by people. People are nasty and downright mean. I was pointed and laughed at. I was told, "You're just trying to get attention", "you're faking it", etc. I went through gaslighting.
I was in a relationship where I was called dumb a lot.
A little later in my life, I had a boyfriend who was abusive and I really didn't see it until later. I was trapped, and conditioned to stay based on the previous abuse I had been through.
I learned to shut up, and put up. I learned I didn't matter, and that if I stood up for myself, there would be consequences and more abuse would follow. I was taught I was the problem when in fact, I wasn't. I lived in fear, and still do at times. I learned to feel unsafe since I was very young. The way I responded to abuse left me over thinking everything and people pleasing to make anyone comfortable even if that meant sacrificing myself. Speaking the truth is never easy. No one really appreciates it even though that's what people say they want. Honesty. It's a funny thing. Honesty comes with consequences, both healthy and negative.
That relationship ended, but I continued to go through some abusive friendships, or lack there of.
I had one "friendship" where I felt as though I always had to please her and how dare I cancel a plan if I was sick. She would be livid. I felt I couldn't be honest with her. That relationship did end and one of the reasons was because I simply told her how she made me feel. I know it was not meant to last.
The way I have handled abuse in my life lead me to very unhealthy patterns within myself and within my healthier relationships. I was confused a lot.
I also witnessed different types of elderly abuse on both sides of my family towards my grandparents. This was very difficult, and a story for another time. I didn't know at the time, but I can say that I have witnessed my parents being abused as well by people in their lives.
In one incident, I had a long time friend who always spoke up and was honest with me, even if she was disappointed about something. Since I was conditioned to believe I was always the problem, and had a skewed perception and hypersensitive system to feeling unsafe, any little bit of resemblance to the abuse I had gone through triggered me to be highly affected and charged.
Her honesty translated in my body and mind as a threat. I couldn't handle it at the time, and I simply ran. "Fight, Flight, or Freeze" response happened and I took flight. I handled it wrong. I see now that her honesty and concern about what I was doing in my life at the time was an opportunity to be honest with her and not be afraid of an abusive consequence. I cut that relationship off, and in the process I missed an important lesson, and I hurt one of my best friends, badly. No matter how pushy I felt she was or how afraid I was of conflict, I didn't tough it out or give her the chance. I didn't give myself a chance. We lost many years together after, and the whole time, I felt awful over it.
In 2017 I think, I reached out to her. I just had an urge that I needed to be responsible for my part and own up to the way I handled the situation, regardless of anything. The trauma responses I had for years, the fears of her rejection, or anger, or anything. I just needed to release it and apologize. I had thought about it for a while, and even though reaching out to her was terrifying, and of course she was angry and hurt, I learned a lot and I am so thankful I took that step.
We have had many long conversations and I am sure more will be had, but we have rebuilt a relationship again. The open and and honest conversations no matter how hard have been the best for us. I have always loved her even when I was hurt or angry, but the worst part was I gave up because of the trauma I had around abuse and I never knew it at the time.
I learned ....
to be brave.
confidence and trust in myself.
to override the fears.
to be honest even if it's a trauma trigger for me (still working on this).
just how much the abuse in my life left me to unhealthy responses and coping skills.
conflict is a trauma response for me.
people twist things and are manipulative.
so much more.
In 2012 I had another experience where I was at the trolley alone on my way to college, and a guy approached me and sat down next to me. He touched me on my face and I froze. A maintenance man was nearby and I think he knew what was happening, but I was terrified so I didn't scream or anything out of fear that he would hurt me. The experience shook me and I have been greatly affected by it due to my past experiences of trying to speak up for myself during times of mistreatment and abuse.
People who abused me taught me it wasn't okay for me to push back and I learned to freeze.
Abuse is not always life threatening though.
I have had friends abuse me by leaning on me too much. Some never ask how I am. It's as though I am just a robot there for their service. This is emotional and relationship abuse.
I have also had people get mad at me for canceling plans because of my illnesses. They have twisted stories to make me feel guilty.
People many times mean well, but they are not aware of their behaviors unfortunately. This is the grey area of abuse.
This type of abuse is very normalized in society. People are living their lives hectically so much that they are abusing their relationships.
People say they want honesty, but are not willing to value it or hear it in their relationships.
What Has Helped Me
Awareness! Awareness! Awareness! and mindfulness.
My support system has helped me so much to recognize when I am expressing unhealthy behavior patterns that stem from the abuse in my life.
This has helped me to be more aware of myself in order to make the proper changes.
I am continuously working on breaking habits that have been reinforced throughout my life.
Being aware of triggers Knowing I can't change others, but I can change myself
WORK ON CONFIDENCE Knowing my truth
Noticing my body and physical reactions.
Practicing speaking up in both non abusive and abusive situations, even if I am fearful that people will twist the situation or get mad at me for speaking the truth (friends and family included).
My EXPERIENCE BEING A WITNESS
I didn't want to make it worse
Grief - Watching people in my life like my brother be manipulated, disrespected, abused (verbally and mentally) and not being able to do much about it.
Consequences and Repercussions for telling the truth
Fears of people not believing me
I regret not standing up and being brave
My own trauma response
Utilize Support :: People who will listen