we often discuss abuse in conjunction with domestic violence, from which, according to statistics, women are more likely to suffer. Nevertheless, these phenomena cannot be equated. Emotional abuse can come from acquaintances, bosses, or colleagues. It is not always possible to break all ties and escape from such a relationship - sometimes life forces you to face a toxic person all the time. We figure out how to protect ourselves as much as possible and save the psyche.
What is abuse
and how is it dangerous
Abuse is violence in a broad sense, and an abuser is a person who commits this violence, and it does not matter how it is: physically, psychologically or financially. Abuse often lasts for years, and all this time the victim has to live by the rules that the rapist invented. Abuse is dangerous not only because it can be physically hurt. Any form of pressure affects the psyche, and not everyone can get out of the relationship without loss. Emotional violence is dangerous because it is difficult to prove, because it does not leave visible marks on the body.
The consequences can be serious. The most obvious of them are a decrease in self-esteem, a loss of self-esteem, the emergence of confidence in one's own worthlessness. Over time, many victims of emotional abuse plunge into depression, unable to get rid of pathological anxiety. There is even a theory that submission to the abuser causes a stress disorder similar to post-traumatic stress disorder.
How to recognize an abuser among friends and colleagues
The scheme of the abuser's actions is approximately the same regardless of the relationship he has with the victim. First, a person enters into trust, disposes to himself, and only after that he begins to criticize and humiliate the victim, because that “does not reach” the ideal - and the reason, of course, is sought in the victim itself, and not in the fact that ideals do not exist. Parents can scold for the only four, a friend can take offense at “not warm enough”, the boss can reproach with minor mistakes in work. Quarrels, resentments or moments of criticism can arise between any people - and violence is masked under such a common misunderstanding. The difference is how often this happens and what conclusion the parties to the conflict draw: if the same person is always appointed to blame, then this is a reason to think.
The abuser drives the victim into isolation, creates a protective bubble around her - for example, directly or indirectly prohibits communicating with friends or colleagues, is constantly jealous of the environment. As a result, the victim has nothing to compare the toxic relationship with and no one to complain to. The Abuser proves that all difficulties are fictions, and the victim herself is to blame if she clings to trifles. This phenomenon is called gaslighting - it is a complete denial of the victim's problems and feelings, up to the belief in a mental disorder. The victim becomes so entangled with guilt that the abuser's behavior seems normal and natural, and the punishments and insults seem fair. Therefore, people suffering from toxic relationships sometimes notice them too late, when they have already affected the psyche.
The main symptom of abuse is panic where mutual support should be. Persecutors are obsessed with the control they serve under the guise of caring
Sometimes it is difficult to understand what exactly is wrong. The abuser's actions seem logical and correct, but for some reason the main emotions in a relationship are fear and anxiety, the fear of doing something wrong. This is the main symptom of abuse - panic where there should be mutual support. Persecutors are obsessed with the control they serve under the guise of caring. Such a "friend" may, for example, constantly point out your partner's shortcomings or shame for your appearance, justifying the cruelty by saying that he is "trying to make you better." The emotional abuser pretends to help, but this is just a way to achieve submission: the abuser proves that the victim does not know how to make decisions and make choices, and therefore constantly needs sensible advice (and guess who is ready to give it).
One of the main signs of an abuser is ignoring personal boundaries as if it were something insignificant. For example, the boss asks to go out to work on Sunday, although the situation is not at all an emergency, and if you refuse, a series of questions begins: why exactly it will not work out, what plans interfere. As a result, the abuser convinces the victim that all these personal plans are completely irrelevant, or that it’s work; there is a feeling of guilt for not working hard enough - and here you are again in the office on Sunday. The abuser boss has an official position that unties his hands. Devotion to work is considered a positive quality, and any manipulation due to this can be easily justified by the love of work, and bullying of subordinates can be covered up with concern for the well-being of the company. But only when faced with an abuser, it is useless to try to turn into an ideal employee, friend or child. The abuser does not need a perfect person next to him, he has a different goal - to make the victim suffer.
How to handle
with a toxic friend
It is difficult to leave the abuser on your own, and it does not matter who he is, a partner or a friend. But getting away from that kind of relationship is the best way to save yourself. It is not necessary to completely break the friendship for this, sometimes it is enough to shorten the communication. It is better to keep the abuser at a distance and not tell him too personal stories. If the persecutor tries to manipulate, you need to set a framework: be able to say "no" to requests that are more like orders, protect your personal space and openly talk about what does not suit your friend's behavior. Sometimes the victim is so influenced that he cannot resist. In this case, it is better to seek help and stop communicating with the abuser, at least until the ability to resist emotional abuse appears. This skill does not grow overnight, and often the former victim needs help.
The victim always depends to some extent on the abuser, sometimes even financially, so parting after emotional abuse seems unthinkable: a person with destroyed self-esteem and faith in a good friend has no idea how he will live next. There are centers and psychological services to protect victims of domestic violence, although there are clearly not enough of them yet. There are no separate services for people affected by other types of abuse. But turning to a specialist, psychologist or psychotherapist, helps to understand the current situation and break off toxic relationships in time. You can turn to loved ones for help and ask them to take the side of the victim during the next conflict with the abuser, support the victim and help break the pattern of submission to the rapist. If, at the sight of a rapist, the victim loses his will, then other people can become intermediaries of communication.
How to handle
with a toxic boss
There is an important tool for dealing with the boss - documents. If the boss insults, demands the impossible and abuses his position, you need to write down the date of the incident and record what happened - it could even be an audio recording. Then you will have evidence of misconduct. True, this does not work if the abuser does not break out into shouting or insulting, but mocks in such a way that you cannot formally find fault with anything - and at the same time, for whatever reason, you cannot quit.
Studies have shown that attempts to hide from or to resist superiors only looped the process of abuse. This is logical: if a person is already negatively disposed towards you, then resistance will infuriate him. But to resist violence positively is not an option either. The same studies found that toxic bosses did not respond better to employees who tried harder and worked harder. All the efforts of subordinates were taken for granted, not worthy of attention. The question of what to do if the boss is an abuser remains open, because resisting is useless, and getting better in his eyes is impossible.
An effective but most difficult way to resist is ignoring. It makes sense to slow down the manipulation at the start, not to let the abuser into your personal life
The option “to leave and look for another job” is not suitable for everyone, and you should not ruin your life and career because of someone's problems with empathy and common sense. An effective but most difficult way to resist is ignoring. It makes sense to slow down the manipulation at the start, not to let the abuser into your personal life, to say that there are other plans for Sunday, and not to dwell on the details. It will not change the habits of the emotional abuser, but it will help you avoid becoming a victim. Employees who were able to emotionally distance themselves from the abuser felt they could control the situation and keep negative effects under control.
It is important to constantly remind yourself that work is not your whole life, to separate yourself and your job responsibilities. This is a complex process that people, especially those who are prone to introspection or perfectionism, do not always succeed: they want to figure out what is wrong with them. But a close study of your own shortcomings under a microscope will not change the situation, but only make you doubt your strengths and undermine your self-esteem. As for the work itself, we must continue to do it the way we are used to: strive for the best, but in order to grow professionally, and not in order to satisfy the boss. Refuse overwork, think first of all about your health (including mental health), and then about your job responsibilities. This is a mild version of the Italian strike: the worker does exactly what is supposed to be done, and nothing else.
What you need to know to
do not fall under the influence of the abuser
Sadly, we have almost no means to change the victim-abuser imbalance, because it is impossible to remake the abuser. All we can do is minimize the impact of toxic relationships. Healthy selfishness is the best defense. It is difficult to cultivate him in oneself, especially if somewhere inside there is a desire to please everyone, to become a mythical “good person” and earn the approval of others. It is this desire that pushes us to try to please the abuser who cannot be liked.
However, ignoring the abuser is the best way. When manipulations on feelings of guilt and low self-esteem will not give effect and return, the bullying will become uninteresting to the abuser. In order not to become addicted to toxic relationships, you need independence. The task of the abuser is to assert his authority over the victim and to bind him to himself, so bullying is rarely directed at people with noticeable self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, there are no recipes that are guaranteed to develop independence and courage. But we can remember how to recognize the abuser in order to stop communication at least in time.