Recognizing signs of abuse and how it influences our inner voice

It can be really difficult to recognize if you’re being mistreated or manipulated by someone, especially if you care for or love them. You could be living as though this is normal to be treated in this particular way and not even see that it’s harmful. Most abuse is considered “the way we’ve always done things.”

Most people don’t recognize abuse. Or deny it. Or say that it’s just a joke. Or that people are just being too sensitive and need to “toughen up.”

Maybe because it’s familiar. A family member treated you like that all your life. That it’s normal for the caretakers in your life to speak to you or mistreat you this way because it’s just how the people around you talk and treat each other. You may have become desensitized to it because you have been surrounded by it for so long, anything different seems weird. Or that is how it’s always been especially within your inner circle and family dynamic and it’s never been questioned. Maybe you wish to be accepted so badly, you just deal with it as a form of survival and acceptance. You may feel that you have no other choice, feel hopeless, or unworthy of better than what you’re used to. Possibly because you didn’t have examples of compassion and understanding or how to set boundaries at any point growing up.

That’s usually the case for most people. There is a history of it throughout the generations. It’s taught that it’s okay and acceptable to treat and be treated like this.

You see the red flags, but you brush them off. Let things slide instead of nipping it in the bud at once. You may let others cross your boundaries with excuses because you love them. You reason with their behavior for a sense of security. You don’t speak up, so you don’t make waves. Possibly making life harder for you. You don’t stand up for yourself or for others out of fear. You don’t leave situations you know are not good for you. You don’t walk away but instead, exhaust all your energy fighting someone who is hell-bent on misunderstanding you. You don’t speak up for yourself or set boundaries and make sure that they’re enforced. Maybe put others before yourself or sacrifice for others, people please, or try and rescue others through codependency. You may put yourself in a box to lessen the effects of others treatment towards you.

Being mistreated or abused can start off in small ways that you may not even notice at first. Name-calling. Belittling. Making jokes at the expense of another. Humiliation. For prolonged periods of time, this will slowly eat away at you. They may try to control you. Guilt trip you. Use fear and intimidation. Constant criticism. Shaming and blaming. Withholding affection. Threats of punishment. Refusal to accept their part in any hurt they may have caused. Insults. Sarcasm. Trivializing. Sabotage. Projection. Ranking and comparing. Mind games and gaslighting. The silent treatment. Isolating you from family and friends. Hitting.

The goal is to diminish another’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. They want to trick you into thinking that the people around you are the problem instead of them. They try and ruin your reputation. Makeup stories. Gossip.

Why does this happen? Why do we never catch this until the damage has already been done?

We shouldn’t let others walk all over us, make excuses for our or their behaviors, we should speak up, walk away, leave, defend, do what’s right for your soul, not care what others think, make your happiness a priority. No matter if it’s family, friends, or even ourselves.

This “normal” becomes our inner voice. When our inner voice abuses us like others did, like family has, as society did, it can be hard to see anything else but the abuse. Noticing when it happens can help pave the way for the inner voice to stop being abusive and start being an ally instead.

Pay attention to your inner voice and all of your thoughts. Are they supportive? Are they helpful? Are they understanding or is it pointing out all your flaws and perceived failures? Is it repeating what others have said to you? The inner critic is repeating the abuse back to you. Intercept those thoughts and re-word it into something more supportive.

I will tell my thoughts to piss off and replace the wording with something better. Even if you don’t believe what you say, still do it. Eventually it becomes a habit (thanks to neuroplasticity) and eventually, you will believe it. It actually happens rather quickly.

Make yourself a priority. Remove yourself from anything that puts your emotional or mental state at risk. People, places, jobs, location. Follow what makes you happy. Not what others want for you. What makes your heart sing. Once you don’t settle for less than what you believe you deserve and accept only what brings you joy, you’ll then start to realize how much everyone treats each other like shit. You’ll start to show yourself compassion, teach yourself what you deserve and learn to love yourself and in turn will be able to recognize when someone is trying to manipulate or abuse you.

I grew up in an emotionally unavailable, abusive home with an abundant amount of criticism, severe lack of support, and shame. Love was not something I recognized easily. I repeated the familiar within relationships of more abuse. My self-talk was everyone else’s judgments and projections onto me. My inner voice was everyone else’s opinions and projected wounds. Undoing all that takes gentleness, validation, safety, and love. Through reparenting, you can unlearn abuse patterns.

“The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something our hearts know is a lie.”

Karen Moning