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Abuse before Abuse

Simply put, abuse is defined as improper use or treatment. When it comes to relationships, everyone has different mental models. It is our lens of how we define and justify certain behaviors. Our mental models teach us to reject or accept behaviors and shapes our own behavior. It is our perspective based on our upbringing, past experiences.

For those predisposed to abuse, you are somewhat desensitized. You don’t realize how accustomed you are to certain traits. You may dislike certain things, but the process of acceptance tells you subconsciously that this is life, this is just the way things are. Maybe this is just the way things are meant for you. Its all a lie.

For others, its an initial shock; “the I cant believe they did…” moment. When you blame yourself for not defending yourself and acceptance of certain behaviors. Many are so desperate to be married or in a relationship that they keep lying to themselves thinking it will get better soon. He or she will and can change. They won’t don’t try to convince yourself.

There are several warning signs that we should be mindful of. A lot of times, physical abuse begins with verbal and mental control. If you can break someone down emotionally and mentally manipulate them, chances are you can move on to physical encounters.

Many abusers are great pretenders. They are socialites that know how to sweet talk and impress an entire room. They are charismatic and easy going. If anyone wherever to disclose poor behaviors, it would be hard to believe. The most dangerous people are not the ones with the obvious outburst but the secretive and private behaviors. In public, you will notice a drastic change in behavior. They are holding your hand, showing affection, sharing stories of your love and the charade is on like prime-time television. They may whisper sweet nothings in the moment and have what I call “photo op moments”. If something is being recorded or photos are taken, they know how to play their part. In private, you will notice their behavior switches right off. You do not have to say anything they are suddenly cold. Nothing you do is ever good enough for them. The praise they once sung disappears. They do not wish to be affectionate or kind with their words. Some words are often appalling and degrading.

Name calling is very prevalent, or you may you experience double sided compliments. Statements vary like “ You look pretty, tonight but you just gotta fix your teeth and you’ll be fine” to “You’re so lucky, I never date African American women, I only date Hispanic ones and for some reason I find you attractive. The list can go on and on. Those compliments are loaded with insults and they speak volumes as to the state of their heart and posture towards you.  Real love will never have you insecure where you were once confident, break you down or make you feel small. Love builds, encourages, and esteems highly.

Staring arguments where your always to blame, deflecting thier issues on you is a form of abuse.

Some abusers will embarrass you publicly and have you mentally controlled. They hold something above you to keep you in the relationship where you feel trapped and that this person in some way cares. You want to leave but then analyze other acts and convince yourself that this person is not all that bad.

Some abusive partners start fights with you or blames you for issues that have nothing to do with you directly. They will find a way to put the focus and attention back on you if ever challenged. Some who experience outburst also find a way to justify their actions and tell you if you had not have said or something wrong then they would have no reason to react this way. You are the trigger; you are the problem. Don’t hold your head down and don’t accept that.

It’s okay to take a stand for yourself and be assertive in a conversation. Some partners believe in monologues where you are not allowed to express your displeasure or opinion. Those are sure signs of abuse. You may have never be physically struck but it is still abuse. Any form of psychological game or manipulation, verbal degradation (abrasiveness) or force will for any reason at all is ABUSE.

If just the thought of your partner coming close, coming home or being in your vicinity makes your nervous that is a neon flag not to ignore. Whether you are in a committed relationship or married, for someone to force themselves on you without consent is abuse. If they ignore your audible plead to cease an action and they justify forced sex as a duty or your obligation… I am so sorry to tell you this, but it is abuse. If they do not care about how you feel emotionally and physically it is a sure sign that this was not a match made in Heaven. It is safe to call it hell.

You don’t deserve this!!

Sometimes, abusers are great with words, they are often controlling and narcissists. Sometimes we look at a person’s history and say to ourselves “well they were abused as a child, I have to teach them how to love”. You cannot pour into anything with a lid. People like that are already full of their past and their own evil mental models that shaped their thinking. My friend Jeremiah Ware revamped the adage by saying “Hurt people, hurt people but {healed people help people}.” It is not your duty to heal anyone or attempt to help. They need divine and professional help to unpack whatever internal battles they are experiencing.

If any of this is hitting home, please seek help. There is no shame in wanting a better life. You deserve to be treated with respect. Whether or not you see yourself as valuable, please know that you are not stupid, ugly or undesirable. Everyone is worthy of love. You are not broken, you’re not a “hot mess”. You can experience real love but let it begin within.

Please reach out to a Clergy member, hotline, or center for abuse. Your voice matters don’t let your experiences put you in a box of shame. When life deals you a tough hand, its an opportunity to learn your own resilience and discover your own strength. Be well!

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