Don’t Put Me Down!
When I first Wrote Back From the Looking Glass – 13 Steps to a Peaceful Home (now in its 12th edition), it was a lot shorter than it is now and was called “Don’t Put Me Down!”
This is worth mentioning because I think the issue of domestic abuse often focuses too heavily on violence and downplays the real long term damage words can cause.
Violence is certainly an issue – but I have seen violence usually only sets in once the conflict has spiralled downward and one or both partners begin to feel desperate and helpless. I heard a saying once that violence is an admission of defeat – and in most cases I would agree. I know there are still people in the world who believe they can use violence to control family members while maintaining a position of respect in their home – but in Australia and most countries in the western world I would say this is no longer the case. In our society, most people understand that if you are hitting someone to enforce your will, it is more likely to breed hostility and contempt than respect.
The sad truth is that if someone is hitting you, they know they shouldn’t be and probably don’t respect you for putting up with it.
Still, violence in our homes continues; mostly when a person finds themselves beyond caring how their behaviour will be judged, when in the heat of the moment they begin to feel vulnerable and helpless to ever get their needs met. In these situations people will sometimes lash out in despair and do terrible things that normally they would never consider. This is all the more likely if that person feels ‘all is lost’ anyway and they have no other means of expressing the depth of their feelings.
I am not condoning family violence, and that is really not the subject I want to write to you about today, I just wanted to make it clear that the issues facing families in conflict are often not as black and white as people make out. Abandonment can be a trigger for violence and so telling people to ‘just leave’ is not always the safe advice that it might sound.
On the contrary, verbal abuse usually sets in fairly early in a dysfunctional family, years before any kind of physical abuse raises its ugly head. The nursery rhyme ending, “but words can never hurt me”, is a lie. Words do hurt and especially when they regularly come out of the mouth of a person who is meant to love you more than anyone else in the world.
Ending the put downs and verbal abuse in my marriage was one of the toughest challenges I have ever faced. If this is a problem for you, I have a ton of resources I want to share with you to help, but I do encourage you to use these alongside the steps in our books; Back from the Looking Glass (13 Steps to a Peaceful Home), The Love Safety Net Workbook (exercises in relationship skills to strengthen the 4 pillars of a happy and healthy home) and 10 Steps to Overcome Codependence.
Then please come back and do my eCourse for my latest advice on dealing with verbal abuse.
To end here I want to offer a testimonial that came in this morning from a church worker who uses our material ‘in the field’ . . .
“I am extremely thankful that you have your story to tell of breakthrough. What would I have done without it??!!! Yikes. I lead quite a few women and to just say “Stay in your marriage” is a not at all realistic without your tools.
Your materials have been so very helpful when really there is nothing very accessible out there. This is such a common problem that people face – I have AT LEAST 4 friends who work and work at their marriage and face wall after wall and no way forward. 2 of these friends have had serious issues like you have faced. Your book has been an amazing resource to turn to.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the moon and back for the work you do – I know it must be exhausting and draining but I am so very thankful you have chosen to do it rather than dust off your lives and just look like the ‘normal’ couple in the crowd.
BLESS you both!!”