Boundaries are the only healthy way to cut yourself off from the abuse, especially if you’re still tied to your abuser by kids you had together, but what does that mean?
If you’re already physically removed from your abuser — after divorce or an official break-up, and you’re living separately — it means disregarding your abuser’s attempts at contact as best you’re able. If you’re still in the home with your abuser and planning to leave, start laying the foundation for communicative distance as soon as possible.
[If it’s early after your separation, or you aren’t out the door yet, your abuser may attempt to “win” you back or reconcile. Suddenly he cares. Has suggestions for romantic or family-oriented activities you can do together. There are promises of change, and different ways. It’s a ploy, a manipulative game, to pull you back into their control. Please recognize the insincerity and trickery in this. YOU DESERVE BETTER.]
So how do you set the boundaries? Don’t initiate text exchanges other than for business related to the kids, if you have them, and ignore any emotionally charged baiting texts you receive. Do not fuel the fire!
Your mental health is what’s most important.
Don’t put yourself in the risky, vulnerable position of a face-to-face conversation. Your abuser will resort to all tricks of the past: intimidation, insults, minimization, deflection, and more. There is nothing, ever, that must be discussed in person. Your own self-preservation becomes difficult when sharing the same space as your abuser again. Avoid it.
Distance yourself physically THEN emotionally. Stick to emails, where you’re succinct and firm in your messaging — again, only related to the business of your kids — and because there is documented proof of all exchanges. (You might someday need that for court.) This also allows mental separation, a chance to pull away from any immediacy or urgency, to think about the information you’ve been given, and then figure out how to best respond using your own timing.
If you don’t have kids with your abuser, you need to work toward cutting all ties. There is nothing to keep you connected, and you should aim for a swift break and a life completely free of your abuser.
Trying to argue with your psychological abuser, set him straight, get him to see your side, or defend yourself against him is never going to work. You must learn to give up trying. That’s where your real power comes in. That’s when YOU WIN.
Boundaries are key.
In communication you must recognize your abuser’s approach for all it is—a mind game, like always, meant to elicit charged emotion out of you (to use against you when possible), reassert their control, and shake any personal progress you’ve made while out from under their thumb.
It’s a process. You might occasionally lose focus or falter during especially frustrating exchanges, but you’re only human—and one trying to break what’s likely a long pattern of conditioning. Forgive yourself, and work to be more on-guard the next time. All in the name of boundaries for yourself and your well-being, now and in the future.
Question? Leave a comment, or send me a message from my contact page. I’ll be as prompt as possible.