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“Right Back at Ya”…The Soul-Stealing effects of Abuse

December 28, 2013
Light Shines On

Light Shines On

Abusers,as we may already know, present with a projection of strength and control, when in reality, they have everything but these things.

Because they do not own their own strength and power, abusers become soul-stealers. They seek to own and dominate the strength and power inherently found in others. They want what you have and this is where it can get very dangerous (among other things) for those who are abused.

Those who are abused tend to suffer what I call the “boomerang” effect. Someone being abused will try to be the best they can to avoid further abuse. They will formulate plans, anticipate needs, control and deny their own needs and wants all in order to get the abuse to stop.

In so many ways, the one being abused is putting out his or her best efforts. And this is what will happen- the best efforts of the one being abused are turned around by the abuser and used to hurt. This is the boomerang effect.

Do you have any idea how destabilizing it is for someone to have their best efforts, their innate goodness, their desire to help and please, their empathetic nature turned against them? Such a person in this situation is almost defenseless because their own actions are being used against him or her. How do you defend against your own nature and values? You can not and this is where soul-stealing effect of abuse comes into play.

Your best efforts to love and be passionate and kind and considerate are turned against you. You are left reeling without any recourse.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I was 37 years old before I met my husband. I thought the “marriage dream” had long past me by. When he proposed to me, I was so excited for him to meet my family (we live 1,000s of miles away). My family was getting together for the holidays, Thanksgiving, if I remember. Originally, I had no plans to attend the get together, but with my engagement, I thought it would be great if we could attend.

I contacted everyone and was told in so many words that it would really not work for us to attend as no one had time to pick us up from the airport. ( I know what you may be thinking- what’s the big deal? For me it was a big deal. I had spent years traveling to visit my family, having 5 licensed drivers within 2 hours of the airport, yet no one would ever pick me up. I thought, traveling with my fiance, they would so want to meet him, they would make it work.)

They would not consider it and I finally stood up for myself. I sent an e-mail to everyone outlining the thousands of dollars I had spent over the past decade traveling to see them and the number of times I had used my vacation for them ( it was not about the time and money- it was a call for “Please notice that it may be your turn here”. Within me also lives the attorney archetype, so I do like to build my case :)).

For me to state so clearly my own needs and desires and to ask for this act of help from my family was huge. I was proud of that e-mail because it was clear and it asked for what I wanted.

The trip never happened. But, I moved on. Our wedding was 8 months later. My mom was not happy with how the wedding went.

And you know what she did? She has saved that e-mail I had written 8 months ago and she opened it up and using my words, re-entered some of the details from her perspective in regards to the wedding. She crossed out parts and inserted her own experiences- the cost they had put towards my wedding, the amount of travel involved for her, etc. Basically, she used my words against me.

A perfect example of the boomerang effect. What I had put out as a heartfelt call of my own authentic needs (doing what books sometimes suggest- make your needs clear, etc.) was used directly against me.

My best was turned around to slap me upside the head. I will never forget opening that letter and seeing my own words used in an attempt to hurt me.

I don’t write this to be like “look at how poorly I was treated!” I write this so others will understand why abuse can be so disorienting and it can feel, truly, as if we have lost ourselves in the process.

We, of course, have done no such thing. We are still strong, loving people. We just have to learn to duck when the boomerang makes it way back towards us. We can own our thoughts, feelings, and actions and try to act with the utmost integrity and we must be resilient in this.

And we must realize when our sincerest efforts are flung back at us, that we are still o.k. We know what we are doing. The problems lie with the abuser- the one too weak to create their own way of being in the world and so much try to steal the soul, spirit, and words of others.

Your soul, spirit, and words are YOURS and they are not to be used against you- EVER.

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From → narcissism

  1. Wow. So sorry to hear about this. I remember the “boomerang” effect well from my “relationship” with my ex-narcissist.

  2. I am sorry, (having my own family family issues, with my mother) knowing how hurtful this is, and understand. I am incredibly happy you have a wonderful spouse “dream relationships” are very rare. It’s unfortunate, your “family” is unable to see this and share it with you. As far as back biting, it’s been my friend my whole life, it’s presence is no stranger. In fact when it comes from non family members, it’s shocking.

  3. good to see

  4. They dislike being called out on their crappy behavior, so the first chance they get to call us out, they gleefully and arrogantly use our words as their words to knock us down. No one is without fault. Of course, we aren’t! We all sometimes do or say things that aren’t said or done carefully and without harm. But abusers frequently act without care. That’s why it’s important to call out an abuser each time he/she is abusive. Don’t let a single nasty remark, inconsiderate behavior or roll of the eyes go unchallenged. Make the asshole repeatedly aware that he/she is being an asshole. Otherwise, any argument between the asshole and yourself looks like a silly and petty tit-for-tat.

    • I love this point, Paula, so thanks for the comment. Abusers just love waiting for us to “step out of line” and attack us for our authentic feelings (when they don’t align with the abuser’s). Your final point about calling them out on every behavior is excellent. I think a lot of times we let things go, because we realize no one is perfect. Letting things go works well with sane, considerate people. It is a recipe for disaster, however, with abusers.

  5. Unfortunately, abusers are often good at mirroring – projecting your own qualities and actions back at you – as well as playing the victim. My ex used to frequently tell me I didn’t love him enough – resulting in me running myself further into the ground in the (unsuccessful) attempt to please him. It’s truly crazy-making! Thanks for sharing, I love your point that we need to keep our integrity.

    • “Mirroring” is such a great word. They literally reflect back to us (in a distorted way) our best qualities and intentions. we get caught up in these insane projections and try to “fix” the distortion. It is exhausting to continue to work to find our center in the midst of all the chaos.

  6. It was sad reading about your family’s actions in the past. I am glad you are in a better place now. It reminded me of something I learned recently. As people we all have a choice on whether we act from a place of love or from a place of fear. It is clear that your family acted from a place of fear. As the abused a lot of what you described about being good and trying to stop further abuse is also motivated by fear. And to break the cycle, you have to move to a place of acting out of love. And it is then and only then that your actions will have the desired outcomes. I am very glad that you are now in a place that allows you to act out of love…..

    • Gosh, your words are so very true. We do move to move beyond (to the best of our abilities) and come from places of love. very well said.

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