“Empowerment Tools: Recognizing, Defining, and Respecting Boundaries” Comments, Page 1

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11 Comments (4 Discussion Threads) on “Empowerment Tools: Recognizing, Defining, and Respecting Boundaries”

  1. You know, whenever I tell people they can stop being a victim of a smooth manipulator by taking action, they invariably tell me I am “wrong” because they are the “victims” and they are not the abusers, so “why should they do something about it.”

    If people could only realize how important it is not to let others to have control over their lives, they would allow themselves to live a much better life, disabling (instead of enabling) abusers to have a say in or control over their lives.

    Personally, I believe that -in many cases- those who are victims of manipulators need to understand that if they don’t do something to avoid being manipulated by others, those manipulators will not do something to spare the victims the effects of their manipulative actions.

    This usually confuses people who think I “put the blame on the victim,” but that is not so. I know it’s not a victim’s fault that there are abusers out there with mental health problems. Those abusers will exist regardless of the presence of the victim.

    What I mean is that victims of abusers or manipulators need to understand their responsibility or the role they play in a controlling or abusive relationship. Thus, they can change that pattern of behavior, and put an end to an abuser’s controlling actions.

    While it may not be possible to “fix” an abusive relationship in many cases, it will be possible for the victim to prevent future abusive relationships, provided this victim does something to change.

    Your empowerment tools are a great resource for victims of manipulators to prevent future controlling relationships. All people need is to become aware they can actually use these tools, and put them into practice, because they DO work.

    1. Great points, Mariana!

      It’s so natural for those who have been the victims of abuse and exploitation to be angry. In their anger, they sometimes feel like doing even more work while letting their abuser “get away with” doing nothing is anathema.

      Anger is such a misunderstood emotion. It’s natures way of prompting us to right a wrong or change a bad situation. It can prompt us to overt hostility or covert actions to inflict injury. It can also prompt us to passive-aggression which is always self-defeating. But it can also be the driving force behind asserting ourselves (fending for our welfare while respecting the rights of others) provided that it’s disciplined and channeled properly.

      What I have found is that some individuals have never seemed to know when it’s really appropriate to be angry and to let anger serve it’s most noble purpose. They also don’t seem to know how to translate that anger into empowering assertive action. But they can learn!

    2. I agree with you, Dr. Simon. I guess the hard part for some people is to learn to become aware of their own emotions, and how to manage them. Emotions, especially when intense, can block people or prevent them from thinking properly (or in a clear way.) In my book on emotional abuse, I suggest people to “just sit and wait a bit” before they take any action when they are feeling hurt or angry.

      Sometimes, this may not be the best advice since -in some cases- people need to take action a.s.a.p., but usually, when they act out of anger, pain, frustration, humilliation, etc. their response is rarely the most convenient for them, and tends to favor the abuser or manipulator, instead.

    3. Your point is well taken, Mariana. I’ve given the same advice with respect to taking time to collect oneself many times. In fact, it’s in my book, too, and it’s one of the empowerment tools and I’ll be doing a post on later in the series.

      I also make the point in my writings that one of the reasons the more subtle tactics of manipulation, control, and abuse work is because people intuitively sense aggression and danger when the abusive party starts doing their thing and this evokes fear, apprehension, and a host of other powerful feelings. Meanwhile, on the surface, there maybe nothing overt going on to allow the person to justify or validate the feelings they’re having, and they end up feeling a bit crazy and confused. I’ll be posting on that later on, too.

  2. “…people intuitively sense aggression and danger when the abusive party starts doing their thing and this evokes fear, apprehension, and a host of other powerful feelings.” This is something very important to keep in mind, thanks a lot for pointing this out. I believe it will help more people understand the dynamics of abusive relationship.

  3. How can one defend their boundaries as being reasonable and “natural” as you say in this article? The disturbed character I am dealing with attacks my boundaries as hurtful and designed to “exclude” him and make him “ride on the back of the bus” if I choose to spend time alone with my kids when they are home from college. Since we are “planning a life together”, I should insist that my kids come to his home if they want to spend time with me, since that is where I usually am most of the week. However, I only spend most of my time there because I don’t want to fight and answer 20 questions about WHY I’m choosing to stay home alone. He undermines boundaries that I think are common and normal. Are there guidelines to determine if a boundary is reasonable and natural or just selfish?

    1. Hi, Renee. The mere fact that you feel the need to “defend” your boundaries speaks volumes. As long as you send a message that you’re unsure about your right and responsibility to set limits and boundaries, you can expect a willful personality to challenge them. That challenging can take many forms and involve many tactics, such as “shaming,” guilt-tripping, casting oneself as a victim, etc. (I have a series on these tactics). The important thing to remember is that it’s solely up to you to set and enforce boundaries and limits. If you have some genuine concerns that you have “issues” that impair your ability to be rational in doing so, that’s what therapy is for. But you cannot simultaneously send the message that you’re unsure of yourself and expect not to be challenged.

  4. 18 yrs. married. It started maybe one week after my wedding. Man, slam dunk. Could not wrap my brain around any of the covert aggressiveness at all. In addition to his plan for power, he added verbal abuse, ( pretty degrading). Not only with me but it transferred to my daughter’s and son in law. When his situation changed when he was unable to keep himself on top did it get worse. I will use the word exposed, my daughter set boundaries and he did not like that. His step daughter. I left him three months ago. No guilt, no fear, just safe, and knew that I was in a very bad environment. He was really good. Now he is all over being perfect In every capacity.
    Your book. “In Sheep’s Clothing” helped tremendously. I gave me so many tools, and an understanding as to who I have been living with.
    So thankful for your book. I could write a book on this subject about my CA husband, but there is not much space. Love the fact that I can see it for what it has always been, power. Never thought I could be that fooled. :)

    1. Thank you, Joanne, for your kind words about my work. I’m glad you found the tools to make your situation better. And I’m sure the readers will benefit from your sharing of your story, so thanks for that as well.

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