Setting myself up for abuse

I have been wondering about abuse. This blog is all about it, all full of it (no pun untended). I think about the big hands that grabbed me one day from my “beautiful life” and placed me in this Alice in Horridland nightmare. I try to find explanations, logical causes, the hows and the whys.

Truth is, when people hear a story similar to mine, they can’t help but think for themselves: was she asking for it, or what?
Sadly, all my self questioning leads to the same place: I probably was, not asking for it, but unknowingly setting myself up for it. How do I know that? Because it is still like that today. My interaction with other people is based on fear of being hurt, judged, put down.

If you do not believe that, read the following examples, which are not taken from my horrible life in abuse but belong to the postpartum era.

The landlord from hell

Just out of the pan… I moved into a lovely apartment on the first floor of a doll house. A man, my neighbor, lived on the second floor and has his office on the ground floor. All good except for one thing. When I asked him what his job was, he replied:
– “I am crazy, so I have an allowance from the social services.”

I really thought he was joking… But he was not.
I can’t be blamed for this, right? I could not have known the guy was a lunatic when I rented the flat. He became enraged when I got a cat and he read on the Internet that his cats would react negatively. To add to the drama, his cats started to pee on his bed. He became abusive to me and I did not react as other people would have. One day, he put all his bed sheets and blankets in front of my door and when I came out, wondering “WTF?” he blurted:  – “Smell these! Smell these!”

Have you seen these posters on Facebook? I find them hilarious. The other day, one of my “FB friends” was preparing an exam. She posted a picture highlighting what she thought she was doing, what her friends thought she was doing, what her Mum thought she was doing… so funny. Where do people find those ideas?

What I should have said:
– “You are crazy Sir, so buzz off and let me be, or I’ll call the police and file for harassment!”

What I would have liked to say: – “@#$&! @#$&! @#$&!” or something fairly similar

What I actually said:
– “Hmmm…. No, I will not do that!” and I walked away looking like a beat up puppy.

My heart was pounding so hard. I felt lonely, terrorized and back in my “old shoes” of an abused person. It was starting again, and the minute I left the building, I started to be scared of coming back there in the evening after work. So, of course, the abuse went on and became worse, because it was all too easy for him. He screamed at me, he pounded on my door, he insulted me, he threatened me.
It took two months forme to find another flat and move out. Seeing his silhouette at the door when I came back from work was frightening and made me want to run away. Somehow, I did not at the time.

The landlady from hell

I moved into a lovely bottom floor apartment with a garden. Only two rooms which made it tight for my family of two, but still, a haven of peace… for a while anyway.
The landlady was difficult to please. When she came to visit, she played a part of Les Miserables where I apparently was to be Cosette. She complained that I did not vacuum the cellar (who does that?), that the grass in “my” garden was too high, that the bushes needed trimming, and that I should sweep the neighbors’ alley more than three times a week because leaves were falling.

file0001262262645What I should have said:
– “This is not legal and I will not do it, please get out of my flat before I report you!”

What I would have liked to say: – “Are you kidding me, who do you think I am? Your slave? get out of here @#$&!”

What I actually said:file000756162391
– “Hmmm…. Oh, I did not realise, sure I will try.”

So she took it to the next level, and at some point, he abuse became this:
“All you do it work, work, work… Oh, well, your life is falling apart, isn’t it?”
I remained civil and said: “No, I do not think so, my life is actually much better now than it was before.” But that was it, a hole had been drilled into my heart. Was my life falling apart? And more importantly, was it normal for stranger to call me onto that?

I started to be worried, when I drove home from work, that she would be there, that I would see her car parked in the driveway. Some days, she was there. I forced myself to ignore her. I also forced myself to be unpleasant to her, when she needed something:
– “Can you put your car in your garage, so I can park mine?” (my car being on my driveway, normally, I would go out of my way to help her).
– “No, I can’t, I am going out in a while.” and I’d close my door.

This was so hard for me. On the outside, I tried to be cold and careless but in the inside, I was shattered and felt poked at. After three years, and when her attitude towards me had become destroying for me, I found a new apartment and moved out.

Present times, the neighbor from hell

We had lived in our new apartment for twenty-four hours when a neighbor rang the bell. She told me that it was unacceptable that I had left my cat out on the balcony at 5AM, and that, even though he was scratching at the door, I had not let him in. She said that I should let my cat go outside like everyone else. She warned me that she would call the police if I did it again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat I should have said:
– “You and what army? Never come and disturb me again!”

What I would have liked to say: – “@#$&!” and slammed the door.

What I actually said:
– “Hmmm…. Oh, but we are new here and my cat does not know the place yet… and I am sorry, I was tired at 5AM and I slept and did not hear him until 7AM, when I let him in, and… and….” I blabbered tons of excuses and explanations.

This was happening to me again! For real! What was wrong with me? No matter where I went, I met these crazies. So, you know what it is like, if you see crazy people everywhere, chances are you are crazy yourself. So, what do you think, is it me?

No it is not me!

I met the wrong people, because I was not in a positive situation, and my reaction to their actions was setting me up for it. I did not react as the common people do. I let them abuse me and showed them it was all ok. Abuse

How can I change this? I am unable to face angry people, they scare me, and in their presence, I revert to scared, abused me. So instead, I avoid them, I do not think of them, not in good, not in bad, not at all.

This is what I need to rebuild myself, because, it hurts to admit it, but I have been setting myself up for abuse.


2 thoughts on “Setting myself up for abuse

  1. Nasty, crazy people are everywhere. That’s the first lesson. They are inescapable. The second lesson is that because you grew up in a situation where the most sensible thing to do was to either hide or placate them, that’s what you continue to do. And they like that. So they keep coming back for more.

    You learned the set of skills you needed to have to deal with narcissists in a situation of captivity–where you couldn’t escape and you couldn’t defend yourself. You have the wrong skill set for getting rid of narcissists. Nasty people usually attempt to harass and annoy everyone they come in contact with, but there are some people who give very unsatisfying responses. They leave these people alone after the first foray into nastiness. Providing an unsatisfying response takes skills that can be learned. It isn’t your fault you don’t have these–your parents are supposed to teach you them, much like how to do buttons and feed yourself. Yours didn’t. And they may have punished you if you picked them up on your own. I highly recommend Patricia Evans’ various books on coping with emotional abuse.

    However, you will also need to manage the difficult feelings you will have when you start dealing with these people more effectively–because you will remember that being assertive or self-protective intensified abuse in the past, and you’ll feel scared and guilty. So I recommend also looking into various relaxation and emotional regulation skills–yoga, meditation, “mindfulness” (a la DBT therapy).

    Good luck!

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