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Maintaining friendly contact with abusers?


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How many of us do this? Is it a fun aspect of abandonment issues, or something else?

I'm still in contact with people who have not treated me well. I'm still in contact with people who were directly responsible for a myriad of the things that make life hard for me. It seems no matter what they do or say- rape, physical abuse, gaslighting, actively humiliating me or my partner- I can't seem to cut them off. I'll be very angry for a little while but I ultimately end up acting like it never happened. 

 

It's something I plan on talking more with my lovely therapist about, but in the mean time, what do you lot think? Do you do the same? Have you done the same? 

How do you deal?

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I do this to an extent.

I have a few toxic people in my life who I just keep going back to like things are going to magically change and be better this time.

They are master manipulators and have never once apologized for their actions against me or my family.

But they make me feel invited back to them and things are all hunky dory until they go unstable and use me as their personaly emotional whipping boy/ punching bag.

Its terrible.

I wish I knew why this cycle is so hard to break.

Maybe because I want affirmation and affection so goddamn much?>

/shrug

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I basically cut contact with my abusers. I don't really have any attachment to them or need to continue to talk to them.

 

I understand that other people don't see things the way I do or are unable to cut ties for other reasons, and I am not trying to imply any judgment on anyone else. I know life is complicated. 

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i don't do it anymore, but there was a long period in my life that i remained "friends" with people who did unspeakable things to me when i was very young.  in my warped thinking, being able to face them and be "fine" was a way of proving that i had not been affected by their actions.  i was "bigger" than them somehow if i could take that abuse and make it seem like it never happened, that it wasn't important and i was too "tough" to be broken.

 

i don't speak to them anymore.  now i know i have nothing to prove.  the damage is what it is, and my life is better for working to repair the damage rather than deny it exists.  and those people don't deserve my friendship.  not even a hello.

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Thank you for your responses, everyone. :) Titania, thank you very much for your concern. I appreciate it.

It always makes me sad when I remember how common abuse is. You can post anywhere and someone will have a nightmare story to tell you. It's terrible.

Thankfully I'm not in a dangerous situation at the moment.

 

I'm really glad to hear that it is possible to break the habit of keeping in touch, it gives me hope.

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I definitely do this but I feel like I'm in a different circumstance as to my reasoning for doing so in one case but just can't let go in the other. 

My ex SO raped me and I just can't let go because I still love him. I know it's unhealthy for me to have contact with him as it causes me to have severe flashbacks and SI but I just can't seem to say goodbye.

On the other hand I have my parents. I can't say goodbye to them as I am dependent on them and love them too. I don't know why I can't just cut them out of my life with all the pain and torment they have caused me throughout the years but I guess I will never need to either as I do not plan to ever cut them out of my life.

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Being financially dependent on my birth father/needing his financial help kept me around much longer than was good for me. I don't know if that could have been avoided, but three years of poverty ins a council flat has been SO much better than playing daddy's games for money. However for a long time, I had no choice,

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I used to be very much like this until suddenly something changed in me and I went completely to the opposite side of the spectrum, where I literally put up with next to no bullshit from anyone or I cut them off completely. I'm not sure why it happens, it might be worth talking to your tdoc about it.

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I'm a little late to the party but here is my two cents.  Someone did something heinous to me as a preteen and I see him nearly everyday.  Atfirst it was really hard.  I even considered getting revenge but after awhile I've learned to forgive.  I think people who abuse others are flawed and what they do should never be forgotten, but sometimes if we look past the painful things that have been done to us and see them on the whole, it makes it easier to cope.  Some people, like myself, have no choice but to rely on their abuser.  Not everyone can just walk away.  So the ability to forgive becomes a skillful method of being able to interact with these people.  Ofcourse forgiveness is much easier said than done.

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I'm not sure what I can add to this thread, except that I still keep up contact with some of the people who've abused or neglected me as a child, and with some of them I do not.

 

The people whose abuse has no excuse or apology are out of my life.  The people who seem to care about me as a person and regret their actions are in my life on a provisional basis.  Should they mistreat me again, they know that I will not hesitate to cut off contact with them too...  but that means that I have to be honest about what my needs are as well, instead of keeping these things secret from them so as not to give them any hint of where my vulnerabilities are.

 

Walking the middle path here has been hard for me, but when I desperately need these people, they're still part of my life as much as they can be, and that's what's worth it to me.  You have to decide what's worth it for you, you know?  (And seriously, the people who aren't worth it are no longer in my life and my life is like a billion times better for that.)

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I have not been in contact with my abusers for almost 10 years now.  At first, it was really hard to cut off contact with them because they are my family, and I felt really guilty for not having them in my life.  Also, I was really dependent on them for a long time.  It has gotten easier.  And I don't regret my decision at all.  I believe I would still be in danger if my family were still in my life today, and I don't regret the decision to keep myself safe at all.  I deserve safety, we all do. 

 

One thing I was really afraid of was that if I didn't have my family/abusers in my life, I wouldn't have anyone.  And that is not true.  I have a lot of people in my life who care about me, are there for me and don't abuse me.  Letting go of the abusers has made room for the good people. 

 

As for forgiveness, I don't think forgiveness and letting people back into your life are the same thing.  I have found a measure of forgiveness for my abusers, but that doesn't mean I will let them back in my life to do the same thing again.  It means I am a stronger, more compassionate human being, one who has grown from the abuse, and it means I am strong enought to say "No, you can't do this to me again."  I am worth more than that. 

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I don't get a lot from the whole forgiveness thing, to be honest.

 

I am working to root out the bitterness and rage by feeling it so that I don't operate from a place where everyone is going to hurt me. And I can intellectually see that my father has some behavioural issues, a crappy family of his own, he had no father role model etc. The only mercy I feel for him is the sincere hope that he never actually has any meaningful realization of the damage he has done. Right now he only feels sadness or grief in relation to himself e.g I feel hurt that you won't keep seeing me for coffee behind my wifes back. Titania', or 'it hurts me that you won't acknowledge me as your your father, Titania'. He isn't capable of actually seeing the damage he did to me or having any kind of connection to that on an emotional level. In a kind way, I hope he dies without ever having to go to that dark place and realizing the extent of the damage. He was content to sit back and let me be hospitalized over and over again and trawl through psychotherapy and play the wounded parental carer, never once being willing to admit what he did. Or maybe he is in some kind of deep denial, I don't know. I sincerely believe that if he really did see the truth about his actions, he would commit suicide, because he is a coward. That is one reason why I made sure he knows that I remember, but I haven't confronted him with the details, exposed him to our family or called the police. I don't think he could survive it.

 

Even though he is incapable of any kind of remorse, I still don't think forgiving him would help me. Firstly, he hasn't asked for it, nor will he. Secondly, there is no reparation he could make because he finds a way to abuse everyone around him in some way, I don't trust any changes he could make. Thirdly, it's not going to make me feel any more peaceful for it. I will always be his daughter, he is my birth father. We can't be in contact and most of the time I'd happily flay him alive to punish him, yeah I feel vengeful. But however big and evolved I become, or however vulnerable or pathetic he could be, he broke me. He violated one of the most fundamental responsibilities a father could have and the consequences of that are ones I will suffer alone all my life. Even a big sobbing Oprah moment can't change that.

 

If I felt like my ability to trust or love people was contingent on forgiving my father, maybe I'd try. But I am a healthy person with good relationships, family, friends, I can relate to others. I still feel compassion. I acknowledge that not all child abuse around me happens on the (sadly) stark and clear terms that my father abused me, I can separate what happened to me from what happens out there. It doesn't make me want to join anti paedophile crusades or bring back the death penalty. It doesn't define me, though it can consume my life from time to time.

 

I felt as if the father daughter bond was some kind of cosmic sacred bond decreed as inviolable, that I *had* to keep trying to make it work. I felt as if cutting contact was a concession of failure, if I couldn't make my own father treat me right, what hope had I for anyone loving me? Aside from how prehistoric peoples attitudes are to parental estrangement, I felt as if it was my job to redeem us by forgiving him. As if the larger my heart could become, the more I could blot out the ugliness and save us both.

 

I actually felt at one point like the choice I made re: forgiveness defined me. As if the world was going to judge me once and for all for not being a nice enough daughter to forgive her dad. I was terrified that what he did had warped me and ruined me so much that if I couldn;t show out enough compassion, that would be proof that I was going to be messed up and unlovable forever. And so forgiveness was basically about me being afraid to tell the truth, he abused me, it wrecked my life, I am not okay with any aspect of it at all in any way and I DON'T have to justify that to anyone else. I was never able to stop the abuse and I couldn't just make it all better by forgiving him.

 

The thing is, I didn't need saving, he might have violated me but I am still the precious girl I always was. He didn't destroy or defile me. And as for him, well if he won't save himself, that's not my job. In the end it was him or me. I could pursue a relationship with him, forgive him and heal things or I could survive and make a life of my own. Given how much of my childhood and formative years he tore apart, I felt my loyalty was to myself.

 

I chose me and I don't regret it.

Edited by Titania
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I find I am still struggling to stay away from the man who was emotionally abusive to me for over three years. Sometimes, like I have been this week, i feel strong and clear about my intentions. I am in touch with the wise, healthy part of me that knows cutting contact with him is best for me. Despite this, on days when I feel depressed and lonely, the urge to call him or just establish contact is very strong.

In these sad, painful times, I think I buy into the things he used to say to me.. That I'm "insane", "impossible to deal with/love", "a drama queen" etc.. His company starts to seem better than nothing, and I start to think that I better take what I can get (i.e. Someone willing to put up with me.)

The last time I saw him, he kept trying to give me drinks (he knows I have issues with alcohol abuse) and get me to sleep with him. As I tried to assert myself, he kept grabbing onto me. He tried to pull me onto the couch and then when I reached the door he blocked it with his foot.. I actually felt frightened for a moment. I wasn't

At all intoxicated but he said "I don't think you should drive if you had a drink" (I had only had a sip of his. He is a police officer, and I'm smart enough to sense the veiled threat)

I made it home and resisted him.. I haven't talked to him since. What makes me so disgusted is I still have urges to see him.. I can't stand that I still care about his approval.

Ugh :(

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Don't get me wrong, I didn't always have that strength.

 

I spent years trying to get my father to love me, trying to push down the creeping suspicion. I let him persuade me into all kinds of days out and time together than was entirely on his terms and an opportunity to hurt me further. For three years he made me and my brother audition for his love and a place in his new family. He chose a a woman to date after my mother divorced him who was herself an insecure bully, he went about erasing our existence as if my father had never had kids. For ages me and my brother tried to play the game so we could still have a father.

 

Even as late as this year, he still sends cards and emails. He is fond of telling me what a crazy, vindictive, cruel woman I am lacking in any compassion. He will send big showy bunches of flowers, poems, he sends things to my mother address for me to get her involved. It is crazy making behaviour designed to emotionally jerk me around. Every contact goes the same way, with effusive 'affection' then a the self righteousness creeps in, he will make a big show of 'forgiving me' some imagined transgression out of the goodness of his heart. His aim is to keep relating me on a level where I am the bad daughter who has to prove herself and he is a benevolent and merciful father. I know it is a game because if I refuse to supply my lines, he switches the anger and insults. He could go months without speaking to us, letting us go hungry without getting in contact and then he will swep in at Christmas or my brothers birthday to jerk us around. He is not above playing us off against each other.

 

I believe this would have gone on for years had I not threatened to go to the police and get an injunction. Funnily enough, when his rep was on the line, being my father wasn't quite the pressing need it once was. As much as it seemed less painful to audition for his approval than just admit that he was a sick abusive monster, the truth coming out has set me free in a lot of ways. I still have some sad moments where I miss the man I thought he was. But that is just it. To stay somewhat sane and function in a world where the sexual abuse was covered up, I had to have an image of a good daddy in my head. And in time, I became dependent on that good daddy image to feel stable, giving it up by admitting who my father was and worse, cutting him off felt like the end of the world. It was like clinging to the wreckage of a ship and knowing you can't grab the lifeboat rope until you let go. I had to feel the horrible loss (I still feel it, it's a process) before I ever gained the strength to feel any conviction.

 

When I cut him off, I'd tried at least five times before. I don't think he believed that it was the final time. I'm not sure that I did. At first every day was significant for being a day that I didn't call him. There were stages, not talking about him, getting rid of his photos, not talking about him with relatives, reaching out for mental health support. It wasn't as if I slammed a door and never cried a tear, in that sense.

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Macadamia, my father once wrote me in an email:

 

'I'd hate to see you have to have to bend those precious principles for your old dad.... I pray that you will grow up one day to realise love is based on compassion, tolerance and kindness.'

 

Yep, this is from a man who raped his infant daughter. It's just noise, it has nothing to do with reality and all about what he is playing in his head.

 

Basically, abusers will say anything they can get away with to get you to stick around. If they have to flood you with rare displays of affection and declare undying love they will, for as long as is convenient. If they need to get out of treating you badly they will gaslight you; you're crazy, sensitive, misinterpreting them, mistaking them for someone in your past who hurt you etc etc. Nothing is their fault, apparently you hold them to higher standards than you hold anyone else, and by the way you're not so perfect yourself. An abuser will always have an unpredictable and inconsistent list of your sins and faults to remind you that no one will love you like they do, lucky you. The cycle of building up tension, exploding, placating you and earning back your love, demeaning your confidence and repeating it will scramble your ability to assess what is going on and calmly step out.

 

In a healthy relationship, you can have flaws and weaknesses that aren't used against you. In a healthy relationship, a conflict is not the end of the world/all your fault.Someone who really loves you would build you up and encourage you to go out and be with people who will also love you. The best guide is your gut. That part of you that was frightened, that knew you weren't drunk, that was there out of fear, not a desire for that persons company. That part of you that knows that being a police officer and claiming to be the only one who will put up with you doesn't mean that person is a kind or safe person to be with. His is behaving to keep you stuck in a headgame of working for his approval even though you have no respect for the way he is and you will never get that approval. Because withholding it gets him access to what he wants, hurting you.

 

I hope you can get some support and build up some strength to distance yourself from him. It is a process, it happens when you are ready and it is very unique. The lag between knowing someone is an abuser and actually getting away from them is common.

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It is certainly on a case by case basis, the ability or even want to forgive.Some people have suffered so deeply the will never be able to escape that pain, some pretend it never happened, Some turn their grief inward and become self destuctive.  Forgivenness isn't possible sometimes and the only thing you can to to cut those ties is to sever them yourself.  Back when I was thirteen and my grandfather drugged and molested me my cousins who I swore to protect from him, I didn't think any part of me could ever feel anything but hatred for him and his betrayal.  I sore I would kill him one day.  I carried a boulder in my heart for this man for years and years and years, shackled to him, waiting for my moment.  And I got that moment one day, he needed help carrying rocks into the woods.  My rock was good sized and he was below me talking and I thought to myself, "This is it.  This is the change you have been waiting for."  And I lifted my stone up and thought, "I forgive this old man.  I can forgive him."  I knew full well that what he had done would haunt me all of my days.  It would effect how I thought of men and christians.  It would lead me to depressions and guilt so deep I can hardly climb out some times.  It might even lead to worse.  But I just couldn't be shackled to him anymore.  Forgiving him made me feel so free.  I forgave to free myself not for him. 

But I know, I know.  Not everyone is bilt that way.  Situations are different.  I doubt many ar going to red my post and say, "Forgivenness why didn' I think of that" then run out and do it.  I was just offering it as another option to the very few we have when dealing with our abusers.

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Titania, first thank you so much for taking the time to respond, and also for sharing some of your experiences. I don't even think there are adequate words to say regarding the horror that your father put you through, other than to say I'm so sorry you had to endure that.

I'm sure, like you said, it's been quite a difficult and gradual emotional process to get to the place you are today: one where you know you have to come first. I really admire the journey you have made.

You are so right when you noted that at least part of me, in the moment, knows my ex is using his old abusive tricks and his position of authority to intimidate me and make me feel powerless and damaged-far too often it works. He knows my insecurities, my worst doubts and fears and then uses them to hurt me. I think the problem that persists is that part of me really does believe he might be right about me.. Something to work on I guess...

He is also the type that is NEVER wrong, EVER. I am always to blame, and trying to make a point or stand up for myself results in a full on verbal assault that leaves me completely dysregulated. In fact, the night I described when I left his house... Acording to him I owed him an apology for not staying.. Essentially, I was supposed to apologize for not giving him sex on demand (which he feels he is entitled to).

I know you can relate to this "never-my-fault" attitude, and how infuriating it is.

My primary trauma, which occurred before this relationship, was a medical one. I developed a seizure disorder (dropping to the ground in the store at 15 with a grand mal seizure, woke in an ambulance). There were several close calls that I almost didn't come back from..

It's a loooong story for another time, but the ordeal left me with PTSD and my borderline tendencies emerged with a destructive vengeance.

This ex of mine, the police officer, came into my life immediately after that... Essentially saw himself as my "savior" (rescue the poor sick girl who's a crazy traumatized mess)..

I bought into the idea too, that he "saved" me and I existed to please him, that I needed him. He made it very clear that without him, I was pretty worthless.

To me, the issue isn't forgiveness but rather acceptance. One does not have to forgive in order to accept the reality of what happened in the past. That's what I'm trying to do.. To accept the painful past for what it was, allow it to be without tormenting myself with memories and judgments and second guesses... And then embrace the knowledge that the past does not have to define the future I am creating, one day at a time.

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