Aubrey once wrote, “Most emotional safety that is found while still in the abusive relationship is by empowering oneself in every safe way possible.
Just as “domestic violence” is sometimes misunderstood as being physical beatings only, boundaries are sometimes misunderstood as being confrontational. While still being subjected to your abuser, you learn that the very last thing you want to be is confrontational. You have already been trained to know your abuser’s triggers and avoid them like the plague. Why stick your head in the lion’s mouth? You can actually create for yourself a number of healthy protective mechanisms if you are still within the confines of the abusive relationship.”
She shared 3 ways to begin empowering yourself while still in an abusive situation.
This doesn’t mean becoming angry or hard-edged. Aubrey describes this as creating a way to protect yourself from the verbal abuse—a mental shield if you will. She uses the example of mocking her ex-husband in her head. When he would rage, she would picture him as an out-of-control five-year-old who hadn’t gotten his way. Doing this helped her not to take on his rage as her fault.
This process is a bit of a learning curve, and you won’t get it right on the first attempt. And because of this, it’ll be helpful to create some mental space to plan and strategise your escape. This is really about taking the emotion out of it; creating a less turbulent space within your body and mind to come up with a plan that you can execute when you’re ready.
As much as it pained me to come to terms with it, my mother didn’t love me. She loved controlling me, playing games with me, and using me for her personal gain. But was it real, honest, and unconditional love? Nope!
As difficult as it is to admit it to yourself, the abusive relationship is not— nor will it ever be— what you want and need it to be. You need to begin grieving the loss of that dream; it will help you to begin disconnecting.
As Aubrey explained in the above example, by creating a different—even embarrassing and entertaining view of her partner in her head—she could give herself space to see his abusive behaviour for the craziness it was. That took a huge weight off her shoulders.
Aubrey recalls sitting down with a piece of paper divided into two columns: one side said “His Bullshit” and the other said, “How I’ll Deal With It.”
Coming up with strategies to deal with the reality of abuse is important. However, it is not the same type of planning that you may have been used to. Even though you may still be inside the abusive situation, you can already begin to change the way in which you strategise about how to guard your boundaries. I don’t just mean your physical boundaries, but your emotional ones too. That means that your thinking and planning can now focus on how you will protect and defend those boundaries.
Your strength to leave the situation itself will come from developing the strength to leave the situation in your mind first.
Escaping an abusive situation is difficult—if not full-on dangerous. Preparing your escape will make you more likely to get out and stay out. In this module, I’ll share some advice for you to consider as you equip yourself to make the first move; a series of starting points to help you remove yourself from an abusive situation.
Please always realise that abusers often escalate when their targets are trying to get out. For this part of your journey over-preparing is better than under-preparing!