The Consultant's Desk

The Consultant's Desk
Poring over the details on your behalf

Monday, June 28, 2010

Handling the Abuser

Somewhere in the United States, a person sits within the confines of their home. They are alone for the moment and feel utterly isolated from all friends, family, and co-workers. Their funds are limited, controlled by someone else. They have to ask permission for the most inconsequential of things. They are depressed, mostly because their life has come to such an empty point. All dreams, hopes, and desires have been dashed into the sand.

They are edgy. The least thing makes them cranky -- or at least it seems that way. They flare up at belittling things. They are threatened with reprisals for the most minor of things or badgered for information. Their body trembles with fear at the threat of reprisals for speaking in their own behalf. Physical aches and pains plague them. They are completely aware that physical or verbal attacks are the price to be paid for self assertion.

They remember instances of recreation and laughter for the sake of joy.

They're having nightmares. Night after night, the same theme invades their unconscious state to remind them of the last time they were flung across the room, pummeled for telling an anecdote about how something was vandalized, or chastised for the least of innocent things. Being called stupid, faulted for things that are actually correct, prevented from attending to things in a timely fashion are part and parcel of their evolving psyche. The person becomes part of the 32 million American population identified as battered and abused.

They're in full stage battered person syndrome or post-traumatic stress disorder.

How do you explain to someone that they are an abuser? It's a tricky situation. When you walk away from them, you'll have to shake your head in order to cancel the crazy-talk, circular reasoning, nonsense they've foisted upon you to bamboozle you with their logic and convince you that they're right. But they're not. They're trying to control you and the situation with their nonsense. So adept at this art are they that as you listen to them, they weave a complex tapestry that sounds valid and believable. If they have a position of authority, the legitimacy of their argument is falsely bolstered by the fact of their job title. Their flimsy, flawed reasoning is not questioned but taken as gospel.

How do you tell someone they're being abusive when they're telling you that you need a lot of help with reasoning? They will go out of their way to be a "friend" in order to explain the most elementary of concepts -- concepts that you're attempting to explain to them. These are insults and put-downs. They are belittling. These are concepts that they are simply not grasping and it appears they never will. Their reasoning is too concrete.

But their belittling words are definitely starting to affect your self esteem. Do not let this person make you start questioning your value nor your intelligence. You are fine. If anything, allow your introspection to go so far as to confirm the conclusions before their assault on you; make certain you respond with a reinforced hit on their failed logic.

How do you explain to the abuser that their ignoring you is additional evidence that they’re working at diminishing you and your self worth? Assert yourself. Call their attention to the avoidance tactic. Also, don't allow yourself to be ignored. It's all right to ignore the bully -- to simply not hear them when they speak -- once they've proven what they are. If they're standing over you while talking, it's fine to rise from your chair and bump into them. But then, be polite. Tell them, "Oh, excuse me [insert name]. I didn't realize you were there." But to be certain, you are not required to sit through their berating stream of words. Simply walk away. Don't become a part of the spew. If you must, tell them you just don't have time right now. What they're saying will have to wait until another time. Then just walk away.

How do you help the abuser realize that their tactics to disrupt and destroy something you're about to do, a presentation you're preparing to make, with threats of self harm or some other alarming proclamation, are now recognized for what they are and will be ignored? Let them know it's inappropriate to manipulate others in such an immature manner; it won't be tolerated.

How do you handle the bully and the abuser? Don't lower yourself to their level; don't use their tactics as a counter. They'll revel in the fact that you've made yourself as small as they are and taunt you into doing something even more degrading. Step away from them. Walk away from their acts. Don’t hear their words.

If you're at work, make a note about what happened -- date, time, and place. Do it without adding value terms. Just state the facts and save it. A time will come when you need to refer to it or show it to someone. Just save it as a reminder. It's a reminder not only of what occurred but also that you're soon going to leave that job site for something better.

How do you handle the abuser and bully? Whether male or female, the behavior will affect you. Try as you might, you cannot handle the abuser through normal reasoning because they are not highly likely to understand. You remove yourself from their company and let them fester in their own bile.

Yvonne LaRose, CAC

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