IT’S NOT FAIR!….but it’s ok.

I sometimes contemplate the concept of fairness. Is it fair that good people suffer?

In that vein, I occasionally think about my abusive ex-boyfriend with regards to the concept of fairness. After all the put-downs, the aggression and downright disrespect, he continues to go through life as though nothing happened, void of any remorse or a sense of wrong-doing (or so it seems).

It’s not fair; not in the slightest. It’s not right that the rest of his friends and family think he’s an emotionally healthy and good-natured man. He got away with it scot-free. It’s not fair that I have to reconcile with this, knowing that I will NEVER get the apology I seek.

These situations aren’t fair, but that doesn’t make them less purposeful to those that suffer the consequences. What I have gained from this is a level of strength that I wouldn’t have otherwise, had he not treated me the way he did.

Fairness and lack thereof can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, bear in mind that life is doing this FOR you and not TO you. The difficulties you face will only hone your character, strengthening your abilities to deal with life’s greater challenges.

Let them go and live your life. Fairness, much like sadness and happiness, comes in waves and is never constant. You will be fine and those ex-abusers just helped you, in the most unlikely of ways, become a stronger and better you.

~ DIVA ~
Christina xo.

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Stop Making Excuses…

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I came across this gem on Instagram a couple of days ago. I like it because it brings humor to a very serious issue. I find all too often  women, much more than men, make excuses for the way their significant other acts. And this very issue is at the heart of an abusive relationship. Bottom line is that nobody, man or woman, should ever verbally, coercively, sexually, emotionally or physically abuse you. There is NO excuse for people who are abusive. These are some of the excuses I made for my ex boyfriend:

  • “He’s really tired, I should have had dinner ready on time.”
  • “He just had a serious concussion, he’s still recovering.”
  • “He just got fired from his job, it’s only natural for him to take it out on me.”
  • “He’s working way harder than I am, I shouldn’t have brought up that issue that was bothering me.”
  • “It’s selfish of me to go out with my friends when he can’t because he’s so busy.”

 

These are only a few examples of the excuses I made for my ex. I made these kind of excuses every day. What are some of the excuses you previously made for you ex? If you are currently in an abusive relationship, are you able to recognize the excuses you are making for your partner and what are they?

Happy Tuesday

~DIVA~

xo Hope ox

Kellie Jo Holly – Survivor, Advocate, Mentor

Seeking counsel after you leave an abusive relationship is something I highly recommend. Speaking to someone who is knowledgeable about the issue can provide sound insight when you’ve been left confused, hurt and, broken.

Recently, I was fortunate to connect with Kellie Jo Holly, advocate against domestic violence and the founder of AbuseJournals.com. I was seeking advice on how to cope with lingering loose-ends, so to speak, of my former verbally abusive relationship, which I had been struggling with for months.

Kellie’s insight gave me the strength I needed to push forward and break the barriers I was imposing upon myself. Being a survivor of verbal abuse and an educated counselor in the field, she was the best resource that I could have found during my time of pain and confusion.

That being said, Kellie has been mentoring for some time now and is growing a base of mentors to help victims of abuse. I encourage you to explore this resource, especially if you’re in need of answers to what may seem, countless questions.

Further, if you want to share your story and hone your counseling skills, be a mentor! There are also opportunities to join her amazing team.

Thanks for everything, Kellie Jo. Keep up the fantastic work! ❤

The DIVA Team

Christina xo.

The Initial Signs

My ex-boyfriend and I had exchanged stories regarding our most recent break-ups when we first met. He told me that his ex girlfriend had broken up with him because he was “too negative” – BIG surprise there!  He seemed so charming and supportive; “negative” just didn’t make sense to me at the time.

However, there were lots of little signs that I didn’t pay attention to because I was infatuated. The key in identifying an abusive individual is being able to hone in on those RED FLAGS at the beginning that might predict escalated abuse in the future. I remember reading the following list months into my relationship, when the verbal abuse had peaked, and I had then put the pieces together. All of these signs were present even at the beginning, just to a lesser degree:

  • He seems irritated or angry with you several times a week. When you ask why he’s mad, he either denies it or tells you it’s in some way your fault.
  • When you feel hurt and try to talk with him, the issues never get resolved. He might refuse to discuss your upset feelings by saying, “You’re just trying to start an argument!” or claiming he has no idea what you’re talking about.
  • You frequently feel frustrated because you can’t get him to understand your intentions.
  • You’re upset—not so much about concrete issues like how much time to spend together, but about communication: what he thinks you said and what you heard him say.
  • You sometimes think, “What’s wrong with me? I shouldn’t feel so bad.”
  • He seems to take the opposite view from you on almost everything, and his opinion isn’t stated as, “I think …” but as if you’re wrong and he’s right.
  • You can’t recall saying, “Cut it out!” or “Stop it!”

Excerpt from: The Verbally Abusive Relationship, Patricia Evans. Adams Media Corp 1992, 1996, 2010

Get to know the person you’re dating VERY well. Be curious, ask questions, see how they respond, make note of their inclination to address any topic – are they genuinely forthcoming or do they simply blame their ex’s for failed relationships in the past? Are they coming on too strong?  This could be a sign that they’re trying to control and take ownership of you. Are they constantly speaking highly of you and very lowly of others? They might be idealizing you and this will lead to constant criticism down the line. Full-fledged verbal abuse takes time, but the signs are there right off the bat.

Always respect yourself, speak up when you’re being mistreated and trust your gut. DON’T settle! Once I’m ready to date and start a new relationship, I’ll be taking my time, making sure that respect and healthy communication are priorities for both.

~DIVA~

Chris xo.

Day #6: Steps Towards Healing (Part 1)

Identify the Issue: If your spouse, the person you are closest to habitually, verbally abuses you and dismisses your feelings, you will begin to see yourself and your needs as unimportant, of little consequence and irrelevant. However, since the abuser is usually in denial, it is important for the victim to be the one who can identify and pinpoint instances of verbal abuse and do something about it. When you finally recognize and come to terms with the idea that you are being verbally abused you need to also become focused on getting help. Here are some steps you can take if faced with verbal abuse.

 Recognize the signs: The key to healing is to recognize verbal abuse for what it is and to begin to take deliberate steps to stop it and bring healing. Whether you are experiencing threats, demeaning language, hostile tone, sarcasm, or any other form of abuse, it disguises what is really occurring in a relationship. Underneath all forms of verbal abuse are issues of power and control. Abusers seek to gain an advantage over their victim and to overpower or control them. This is inherently wrong and can cause significant emotional and psychological distress. If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, seek some kind of help and try to either remedy the situation or even leave if there is a risk of escalation.

 

Day #5: Consequences of Verbal Abuse

Feelings of depression: You bury your feelings, walk on egg shells and work so hard at keeping the peace that every day becomes an emotional chore. You feel depressed and have even wondered if you are crazy.

Feelings of isolation:You feel confused and alone as you become more and more insecure from being subjected to verbal abuse and psychological distress. You may also feel ashamed of discussing these issues with friends or family, which leaves you even further isolated.

Feelings of helplessness: You cannot get your point across and are not sure how to overcome verbally abusive characteristics. You become helpless as nothing you do or say seems to stop the abuse. You feel helpless in your relationship and in your decisions.

Day #4: Signs of Verbal Abuse Continued

Undermining: Undermining is also verbal abuse. The abuser not only withholds emotional support, but also erodes confidence and determination. The abuser often will squelch an idea or suggestion just by a single comment.

Sarcasm: Sarcasm refers to the use of humor to mask belittling or threatening language. Thus the information is delivered in such a way so as to provide two distinct messages. The superficial message is that the intention is humor or levity while the deeper message is one that belittles, demeans or threatens. Because the deliverer uses humor to mask the message, the deliverer will try to deny the deeper message if confronted, thus leaving the receiver somewhat disarmed and unable to defend against the deeper message. Typically the person using sarcasm denies the deeper message so as to absolve him or herself from any wrong-doing and more insidiously try to infer there is something wrong with the receiver for their misinterpretation. This obfuscation of the receiver’s reality in this scenario is also a form of psychological abuse.

Forgetting: Verbal abuse may also involve forgetting. This may involve both overt and covert manipulation. Everyone forgets things from time to time, but the verbal abuser consistently does so. After the partner collects herself, subsequent to being yelled at, she may confront her mate only to find that he has “forgotten” about the incident. Some abusers consistently forget about the promises they have made which are most important to their partners.

Ordering: Ordering is another classic form of verbal abuse. It denies the equality and autonomy of the partner. When an abuser gives orders instead of asking, he treats her like a slave or subordinate.

Denial: Denial is the last category of verbal abuse. Although all forms of verbal abuse have serious consequences, denial can be very insidious because it denies the reality of the partner. In fact, a verbal abuser could read over this list of categories and insist that he is not abusive.

 

Day #3: Learn to Recognize the Signs of Verbal Abuse

 

Name-calling: Any negative form of name-calling is unacceptable. If you feel that it is a put down, then it most likely is. There are names that are obvious and, without question abusive. Then there are the covert, veiled attempts to put a spouse down that are harder to identify. Verbal abusers love to use constructive criticism to beat a spouse down. If your spouse is constantly criticizing you, “for your own good,” be careful. This is the most underhanded form of verbal abuse.

Shaming with words or jokes: Critical, sarcastic, mocking words meant to put you down either alone or in front of other people. Sometimes verbal abuse is disguised as jokes. Although his comments may masquerade as humor, they cut the partner to the quick. The verbal jabs may be delivered crassly or with great skill, but they all have the same effect of diminishing the partner and throwing her off balance. Verbal jabs may be overt (through angry outbursts and name- calling) or covert (involving very subtle comments, even something that approaches brainwashing). Overt verbal abuse is usually blaming and accusatory, and consequently confusing to the partner. Covert verbal abuse, which is hidden aggression, is even more confusing to the partner. Its aim is to control her without her knowing.

Fits of rage: Hostile tone, volume or intensity of deliver may appear as shouting, yelling or screaming or alternately, talking quietly yet intensely, so as to instill fear. Typically this form of verbal abuse causes the victim to acquiesce for fear of self-harm, particularly scaring the person that matters might escalate to include physical abuse. The victim consciously treads very carefully because they are aware that they are living with someone who goes verbally ballistic for very little cause.

Intimidation and Threats:  Threats are meant to scare or intimidate a person into submission. Threats can be of bodily harm to a person or other family, friends or pets of the person. Threats can also include divulging secrets or making outright lies about a person such to either embarrass or cause to look bad in the eyes of others. Threats can also be to property as in telling a person they will destroy something and threats can be financial, thus seeking to hold a person hostage by intimating economic hardship. Even the legal system can be used against another and thus threats include telling another person they will unjustly use the legal system to gain an unfair advantage. No threat should be taken likely, even if your spouse tells you they are only joking, especially if it causes you to change behaviors or to feel on guard in the relationship.

Blame: Accusing and blaming is another form of abuse. A verbal abuser will accuse his partner of some wrongdoing or some breach of the basic agreement of the relationship. This has the effect of diverting the conversation and putting the other partner on the defensive.

Dismissal and Trivializing: This occurs when a partner refuses to discuss issues that affect the other person and avoid discussion of any topic where they might have to take responsibility for their actions or words. Trivializing can also be a form of verbal abuse. It is an attempt to take something that is said or done and make it insignificant. When this is done in a frank and sincere manner, it can be difficult to detect. Often the partner becomes confused and believes she hasn’t effectively explained how important certain things are to her.

Manipulation: Verbal abuse can be manipulative and controlling and involves the persistent and intense use of threatening words to induce someone into do something, or act in a way, that is uncomfortable to them. Even disparaging comments may be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way but the goal is to control and manipulate.