Read an ExcerptStop Being Pushed Around!
A Practical Guide
By Lynda Bevan
Loving Healing Press
Copyright © 2008 Lynda Bevan
All right reserved.
Step 1: Are You a Victim?
Definitions of victim
An unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance
A person who is tricked or swindled
Someone who has suffered from an unlawful act, whether it is a personal or a property crime
A person harmed by another's action
A person on whom sexual violence is inflicted
Someone who suffers some loss as a result of another's action
An individual who suffers direct or threatened physical, emotional, financial, or spiritual harm as a result of a crime/domestic abuse.
We shall examine the role of] will look at the role of "victim" in adult marriage/partnership relationships and will explain how to change the role from "victim" to "survivor". In Appendix A, we expand this model to include workplace bullying.
You are a victim if ...
you believe that you have no control over your life
you believe that you can do nothing right
you believe that no-one really cares for you
you are often negative
you waiting for someone to rescue you
you put pressure on you partner to make everything alright for you
you opt out of life
you are fearful
your are insecure
you are usually depressed or anxious
you feel under constant threat of something bad happening
you sabotage positive thinking and behavior
you are distrustful
you wait for disasters to occur
you have emotional problems
you may turn to drugs or alcohol as a means of escape
you are isolated from friends and family
you withdraw from real life
A 'victim' in a marriage/partnership relationship sucks and drinks the energy of the other member. A 'victim' is a 'bloodsucker' draining the partner of energy, enthusiasm and drive. 'Victims' are negative and/or can't be bothered to do anything constructive for themselves so they rely on a partner or anyone else to give them what they want at any cost. They will surrender control of their lives over to their partner in the hope that their partner will make everything alright.
A 'victim' needs to work hard to stay the same in order to prevent life changes. Victimhood is enabled by the partner doing things to help the victim. A 'victim' has taken a long time to become this way and will be extremely reluctant to surrender the role. If you are living with a 'victim' or are a 'victim' yourself, you will know that by opting out of responsibility and accountability you are, in effect, the controller of the relationship, albeit a negative controller.
To victimize someone is to persecute them. To victimize someone is also to 'pester' them. Slow and deliberate pestering can wear an individual down into an anxious/depressive state of mind. Pestering (nagging) is to persistently annoy someone into surrender.
"When persecuting/victimizing someone, you are subjecting them to harassment designed to injure, grieve and afflict." (Merriam-Webster)
Example of Becoming a Victim
A lady I have counseled told me that she had tried, very hard, to mend her broken marriage with her husband. When they separated, she had moved out of the family home with her children and moved back to her mother's home nearby. The couple remained in touch daily. He visited her mother's home every weekend to spend quality time with his children. Eventually, both parties accepted the break-up but were eager that the children would not suffer unduly.
During this phase, they continued sleeping together on the weekend visits and generally behaved as if they were still in a marriage. My patient was happy with this situation because she wanted to reconcile and give the marriage a second chance. Her husband seemed happy with this arrangement and gave her all the signs that this is what he wanted also. This situation continued for some 18 months. As time moved on, however, this lady began to realize that she had become a victim of her husband's controlling behavior yet again.
The weekend typically began with her welcoming him into her mum's home on a Friday evening with a hearty meal, wine and the warmth of a loving family atmosphere. The following day he took the children on a daytrip and she never knew whether she would be invited to 'tag' along. She always was invited eventually, but the question always hung in the air until the last possible moment when he grudgingly agreed to her coming along, usually after a request from one of the children.
It dawned on her that even when they had lived together permanently, her views had still never been taken into consideration. Indeed, she told me that when the family embarked on a daytrip she was never allowed to suggest a place to visit. If she volunteered an opinion, he would say quite curtly, "No-one is interested in where you want to go, your opinion in unimportant."
She also recalled being told to keep her head down as she walked along the road while taking their newly born baby for a walk in the pram, as she was offending passers-by because she was so ugly. During the years she was married to him, he had brainwashed her into believing that she was not up to much and "lucky to have met and married him." Slow and persistent brainwashing had reduced her to believing she could make nothing of herself and her life and was, therefore, privileged and grateful to have him. She became a 'victim' because she did not have the confidence to stand up to her controlling husband.
This is an all too familiar story of how to become a victim.
If You Are A Victim ...
You believe you're at your partner's mercy
You smile when you want to cry
You pretend that everything is alright
You tip-toe around your partner all the time (treading on egg shells)
You will do your partner's bidding-no matter the consequence to yourself
You give-up on yourself
You experience suppressed anger and frustration
You become nondescript
You have a low self-esteem
You block out emotions
You believe you are unloved
Your life is flat-lining
You are depressed and/or anxious
You opt out of all responsibility and accountability, preferring their partner to make decisions
"If you had a friend who talked to you like you sometimes talk to yourself, would you continue to hang around with that person?" -Rob Bremer
Here are some examples of positive responses a victim can choose on how to deal with a controller:
Take control of yourself and your life
Don't be afraid to show your feelings: learn when it is appropriate to do this.
Encourage open discussions, to enable you both to have a better understanding of each other's point of view.
Realize you are never going to get it right, so stop trying to be perfect.
Be reasonable, flexible and fair in your responses, but know when enough is enough: you will know when this happens by the feeling in your gut that screams-stop.
Treat yourself kindly.
Acknowledge how much you have achieved.
Don't be afraid to recognize your needs, wants and desires-you have a right to them.
Accept that you "can't have it all," but make sure you "get some."
Take charge of yourself and know that any change you want to achieve in your life is up to you.
A negative controller is someone who ...
has usually been abused (emotionally/physically) as a child
has frustrations that turn into anger
is jealous and possessive in relationships and lacks trust in people generally
has deep-seated insecurity issues
focuses on the relationship to the exclusion of family and friends
views compromise as a weakness
has an unacknowledged low self-esteem
shifts blame on to other people
places high demands on the partner in the relationship, mainly because they he/she had little or no control in their own life
is moody and subject the victim to either being charming or cruel
has learned to be this way in order to deceive others
vents frustrations on the partner through a false identification of the partner with one of the controller's parents (usually the mother)
If you are a controller, here are ways that you get the upper hand and create a 'victim'
By bullying your partner
By manipulating your partner to get your own way
By frightening you partner into submission
By having a need to control your partner, situations and outcomes
By shifting blame from yourself on to your partner
By showing disrespect to your partner
By criticizing your partner
By sabotaging yourself or your partner
"We almost always have choices, and the better the choice, the more we will be in control of our lives." -William Glasser
I will take each of these styles and explain them. As I have already explained "victim", I will proceed with "bullying". Another way to gain control in a relationship is to bully your partner into submission until they surrender all control of their life to you (they become a victim). Bullies are inferior, inadequate people. They pick on sensitive, vulnerable people in order to feel superior.
To bully someone is to abuse your power in the worst way possible. Slow, cunning and persistent bullying can make the most confident individual a "gibbering wreck". Bullies are predators, hunting to find their victims. Bullies never give up-hounding their victims until they completely surrender and have no self-worth or identity.
Example of Bullying
I once counseled a confident, articulate lady who was the victim of bullying. She told me that her friends were all surprised that she had become a victim to bullying from her husband. She was competent and able and holding down a responsible job. Despite these circumstances, she succumbed to bullying. At first, of course, she didn't recognize that she was being bullied. She believed that all suggestions and advice were well meant and she listened intently when given any guidance and direction by her husband. She realized she was being bullied when she saw the reaction from her husband when she didn't take the advice/suggestions offered.
She felt whittled down into carrying out his every demand by the fear that he would leave her. She loved her husband and wanted to be with him forever at whatever cost. This cost was high and she paid it: he ruled the roost. He called the tune and she danced to it. The constant fear hanging over her head was that if she didn't do as he said he was going to walk out of her life forever. She couldn't cope with the possibility of living her life without the man she loved and be alone forever. This lady lived a double life. In the work arena she was a confident, able person who people turned to for help and advice. At home, she was a servile 'yes' woman who did as she was told.
She did stand up for herself, on some occasions, but these were short-lived because the threatening reaction and outbursts of anger she experienced from her husband frightened her and quickly put her back into her 'rightful' place beneath him. This lady tried all options available to her to change her husband. It took years for her to realize and accept that with all the best will in the world, the only person you can change is yourself. She was scared to change herself for fear of finding out that he wouldn't love her if her behavior changed and she became her own person. All she wanted was an equal relationship with him. Eventually she had no option but to change some aspects of herself. She was becoming frustrated and grossly unhappy in the relationship and the choice became apparent that either she began the process of changing herself or ending the relationship she had fought so hard to keep. The process began and, thankfully, in the most part has proved successful.
Some negative reactions to being bullied are:
To experience being demoralized
To be intimidated
To be embarrassed
To feel humiliated
To be ridiculed
To be patronized
To be criticized
To be ignored or dismissed
To be overruled
Some positive ways to respond to bullying are:
Avoid or delay responding
Refuse to give up and give in
Respond with courage
Stand up and be counted-a bully is a coward
Realize the bully is a frightened, inadequate individual-not the threatening monster he/she appears to be
Be responsible for who you are and what you say
Ignore pubic humiliation attempts, other people recognize what's happening and the person is quickly identified as a 'bully' and disrespected and disliked
Be strong and proud of who you are and what you have achieved
Realize that you will be better off if the bully does leave you, because the bullying will stop
If you feel that the bullying is going to turn into violence-contact a responsible agency in Appendix B.
"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself." -Harvey Fierstein (1952-)
Always Getting Your Own Way
This is the desire to have total control in the relationship and putting you first at any price: being totally selfish. This individual is frightened of losing total control. Such a person is scared that, if they are not in control of all situations and people nearest to them, their circumstances/life could change dramatically and they would be left 'high and dry'.
They have no basic self-respect or do not like themselves and believe they are not liked or respected by others and, therefore, they have a desperate need to stay in control in order to keep and preserve what they have. They feel that they are failures.
They manipulate those people closest to them by any method that works for them.
Here are some examples:
Coaxing and cajoling
Luring you into a false sense of security
Pretending to walk out, as if never to return to trigger a fear of abandonment in you
Violent behavior (as in slamming doors, stamping around the house)
Body language (large and looming over you)
Physical Violence (when this occurs, or if there is a strong probability of this happening in your relationship-contact a responsible agency in Appendix B)
In my opinion, this type of person is only respected superficial acquaintances. This controlling type can be friendly, talkative and interesting in professional and social situations. It is only when someone oversteps the self-imposed boundaries of the controller that outsiders will spot that the person is intolerant, aggressive, rude and threatening.
Example: Some years ago I saw a patient who told me that his wife had forbidden him to visit his longstanding friend (he had been friends with this person for twenty years). The reason his wife had initially given was that she did not personally know his friend and had never been invited to visit him. She was angry and felt excluded from the relationship and, worse, accused him of having a homosexual relationship with his friend. She was very angry and aggressive while discussing this issue, which caused a major disruption in the household. While my patient could accept the point his wife made regarding feeling excluded from the long-standing friendship, he could not, and would not, accept the accusation that he was conducting a homosexual affair with his friend.
However, he discussed this issue with his friend and, despite the inexcusable remarks, an invitation was extended to her to "call in any time" for a chat. The woman refused the invitation because she felt that she was being fobbed off as no definite invitation date had been extended. My patient continued to see his friend (once/twice a week) popping in for a coffee and a chat. It was a ridiculous situation and he felt guilty doing something without his wife's knowledge. However, he felt he needed to make a stand on this issue.
On one occasion when he was visiting his friend, there was a knock at the door and his wife appeared on the doorstep. My patient's friend invited her in to his home for a coffee but she refused and was very hostile, angry and rude. She had called in to the friend's house on the pretence to tell her partner that she was going somewhere and would not return for a couple of hours. What she was actually doing was making her presence felt in the most threatening and intimidating manner. She left her husband in no doubt of the confrontation that was to follow later. She was, in other words, menacing him. My patient was totally embarrassed and fearful of the outcome. He had experienced this behavior many times from his wife, and had always made excuses for her and accommodated her outbursts. He loved his wife and wanted a successful marriage but he also wanted to "hang out" with his friend and be able to "shoot the breeze," occasionally, as they had done prior to his marriage.
Excerpted from Stop Being Pushed Around! by Lynda Bevan Copyright © 2008 by Lynda Bevan. Excerpted by permission.
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