It is possible to get out of an abusive relationship, but you have to apply assertiveness effectively to confront the abuser. How do you confront the abuser?
Speak up when the abuse happens.
- Speak up as soon as the abuser begins to change the subject or to twist your words around to mean something other than what you intended. “You just changed the meaning of my words. I didn’t say that. What I said was (__________). Now what are you hearing me say?”
- When abusers say something absurd, repeat it back to them. “What you are saying is (__________). Is that accurate?”
- Remain calm. Your abuser wants a strong reaction from you. “Do we need to discuss this at a later time? If you want to continue now, I need you to speak with more restraint.”
“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 9:17).
Try to get the Abuser’s Hostility to surface.
- Acknowledge that you sense the anger in the other person. “I sense that you are feeling angry.”
- Confirm that being angry is permissible. (Never attempt to humour an abuser out of anger.) “At times anger is justified.”
- A person may need help recognising the cause of the anger, but don’t try to psychoanalyse the individual. Ask, “What triggered your anger?”
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.” (Proverbs 20:5)
Soften the Confrontation Process.
- Confront the behaviour, not the person. “I care about you, but I dislike what you are doing. What can I do to help you stop (__________)?”
- Avoid threats, sarcasm, hostility, put-downs, or judgment of the other person’s intentions. “If you are angry with me, talk with me and help me to understand why. But please stop your present behavior.”
- When you don’t get a clear, direct, to-the-point answer, ask again (respectfully). “Let me ask again.… Why did you tell me you were coming to the ceremony, but then you never showed up?”
“Live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3)