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