Abuse Traps

Marriage Minute # 18 Abuse Traps
From the book, Marriage Minutes, available on Amazon.com
Patricia Evans has become one of the major voices speaking out against verbally abusive relationships. People have written to her, telling their story, and she has put some of these stories in her book, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out. In one section she warns of a few traps that abusers use to keep their spouses under their control. Let’s take a minute and look at these.
First, one writer tells of “The Explaining Trap.” This person wrote, “I’ve tried for a long time to get my abuser to understand my good intentions.” In this statement is one key to the problem. Abusive people aren’t waiting until someone sells them on a good idea. Supportive and kind people, on the other hand, don’t need to be convinced of anything before they decide to be supportive and kind.
Second, as another writer says, there is The “If you feel pain, you are a victim” trap. If you pretend it’s O.K. in order to look tough, then the abuser will pretend it’s O.K. in order to do it again. Sometimes you realize that when you are patient, the abuser will give you more to be patient about.
Third, watch out for the “He/She doesn’t really mean it, so it shouldn’t hurt” trap. The phrase, “Don’t take it personally”, shows up often in this trap. The truth is that all behavior is purposeful, and we are obligated to “mean” the right thing, and to be honest about it.
Fourth, there is the “I should be able to take it” trap. No, you should be able to be in a relationship where no one has to take it from anyone; where both persons feel supported and respected.
Fifth, there is the “If I say I’m hurting, I’m blaming” trap. Only the dead never hurt. It is possible that you are wrong, but it shouldn’t take an argument to find out. Where there is pain, both people in a good relationship can explore the cause together.
Sixth, avoid the trap of “setting the good example.” There is nothing wrong with being a good example, but just “setting” sounds too much like pretending. If you believe that if you are “good enough” that the abuser will eventually start acting like you, then you will eventually be disappointed. You may have to be the good example of the person who says NO to abuse.
Then seventh, there is the cruelest trap, the “I must be responsible” trap. Let’s be clear. Abusive behavior starts within the abuser. It doesn’t start within the victim. Both people will bring human stress to a marriage. But abuse can be, and usually is, the doing of one person. There may be two abusers, but in this case it is still the doing (or undoing) of each individual.
Abuse is not inevitable. It is not a natural thing among humans. It exists only in the world of humans who choose to not love. People who choose to love, and learn how, can build a relationship that blesses, and does not abuse.

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