Some Useful Tactics in Dealing with Abusive Men After the Breakup

I would say I’m no expert.  But I’ve been through 7 years of college, training in domestic violence advocacy, had many clients who have been victims or perpetrators,  and my own 17 years of personal experience.  I’d like to think at this point, I know something about something.   That $50,000 for a piece of paper must count for something.

Sometimes the abuse from a relationship continues, especially if there are children involved and the relationship with the abuser is court ordered to continue.   The following is just a quick bulleted list off the top of my head of ways to deal with continued harrassment, etc.

1.  The best weapon is SILENCE.  I don’t mean don’t ever talk about it with other people.  I mean silence with the abuser.  Don’t say anything.  Don’t answer the phone.  Don’t call.  Don’t email.  Don’t leave comments.  Don’t play into the game.

2.  Understand that everything he does is a tactic to make you suffer in some way.  There are many different tactics:  Being super friendly, guilt-tripping, oh poor me, demanding, and threatening.  See them for what they are.

3.  Talk to other people.  If he finds a way to get to you, don’t respond directly.  If he tries to “state the facts” about you, spread rumors, or convince people that you’re the abusive one, find someone else to tell your response to. 

4.  It’s really all about getting your attention.  In any way possible.  Good or bad attention.  It doesn’t matter to him.  Just keep saying this to yourself.

5.  Keep your integrity at all times.  Speak your truth.  Don’t be nasty about it.  Whatever he says is a reflection of him and people will see this eventually.  Don’t worry about what they think of you.  Be polite and strong and don’t play his game.  You’ve broken up with him now.  He’s trying to suck you back into a relationship.  Any relationship.  Stay strong.

6.  Be willing to give up everything that he still has any control over.  As long as he has something you want:  money, house payments, vehicles, friends—he’ll have leverage to pull out and use against you whenever you do something to make him unhappy.  Pretending to play along to get what you want feels dirty.  Take the initiative and cut the ties yourself before he can threaten you.  You don’t “need” what he has.  You want it, and that’s a different thing.

7.  Don’t hide what he’s doing.  It feels embarrassing to you for other people to read his emails or listen to his messages.  Put it out there openly.  It feels terrible at first.  But it makes HIM look terrible, not YOU.  For example, the comments my abuser left on this blog were supposed to feel bad to me.  He expected I wouldn’t publish them.  It was another secret way he could abuse me.  So I posted them.  He doesn’t want to look bad to other people.

8.  Be happy.  He wants the focus on him.  Brush him off like an ant and concentrate on your new life.  He’s just an annoyance and you have so many good things going on.  If you don’t then make some.  Every day without him in your life is a gift.  Enjoy it.

9.  Your friends might want to get into an argument with him.  I don’t know if this is good or bad, as the heat is taken off you for the moment.  But it still feeds into the harrassment.  Besides, he won’t listen to anyone else and will only start bullying them as well. 

10.  All the bad things he says about you aren’t true.  Sure, there’s a small pebble of truth what he says.  And around that he’s wrapped lies and name-calling and made up events and craziness that would all blow away if the big fan of truth was turned on it.  It’s the small bit of truth that can eat at you.  Don’t let it.  You did what you had to do to survive.  You did WELL.

11.  Don’t overanalyze or even analyze at all what he’s up to.  All of this abuse stems from an overwhelming insecurity on his part.  He can’t be without you and feel like someone worthwhile.  That’s why he clung so tightly and made it so impossible for you to leave, in many many ways.  It’s his problem now.  Don’t try to figure it out or come up with ways to appease him. 

12.  Live a life that’s TRUE and BRAVE.  For you.

I hope this helps.  You might find yourself giving in again and again to the temptation of responding to him.  Eventually, you’ll come to a place where you realize it just doesn’t get you anywhere.  Not really.

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16 thoughts on “Some Useful Tactics in Dealing with Abusive Men After the Breakup

  1. This is the best advice I ever read and everyone needs to listen. Never let down your guard. I made that mistake and I paid for it dearly. He took my van so now I have no transportation for my children. I cried pleaded begged for it back. He promised he would bring it back then said he wouldn’t then said he would. I changed my number and decided not to play his game. Besides the three pfa contempt hearings I have coming up and the criminal case he has pending is enough to make me smile. As I won’t have to deal with him anymore because he will be in jail.

  2. It’s ironic/pathetic/funny how far they will go just to continue the relationship with us? My ex emailed me for my new address to send the kids Christmas cards, something he hasn’t done in 8 years. My address is on the current child support papers, the letter I had to send him and the court about my move, and on whitepages.com. It seems like such a little thing, but any communication is stepping into that game again.
    If you feel safe, FIGHT BACK! You go girl! That is some great news!

    • This is the best advice I’ve ever read. My ex was physically, emotionally and sexually abusive and now that I have a new boyfriend he is yelling across the street ( he lives right across from me) and trying to provoke the new man I have. I see now he is trying to make me suffer and gain even an ounce of control back.. I know now to brush him off and be happy.. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: Tactics for Dealing with Abusive Family Members, How silence is Difficult, Factitious or Munchausen Disorder by Proxy with Adults | Hippie and the Midgets

  4. Stumbled across this by accident but will bookmark it and read it every day. Just gone nc with a man who was jailed for abusing me while carrying his child, he went through a year of therapy and if anything it has done nothing but serve to enlighten him as to how abusive *i* am. Been caught up in jis crazymaking world far too long. Tried to leave him a hundred times, he called me paranoid for doubting his love and it took discovering him in a huge lie then have him literally deny it to my face n blame me for it…until i finally reached that beautiful moment of realisation you describe. Every day without him is a gift. In one week without him i have managed to quit smoking, pick myself up from the pit of despair n i feel i am out of a terrible nightmare…….just love your quote about how they crumble …our not tolerating it forces them to look at themselves. If such a stupid irrational and “abusive” woman has rejected them then what does that make them….Thank you for the article!!!

  5. Thanks Petra. I remember feeling so scared about being on my own and then after I divorced him I only felt relieved. All the things I thought would be difficult to do on my own weren’t as overwhelming without his constant abuse using up all my energy.
    The marriage counselor he dragged me to also let him accuse me of abusing him! She even made a rule about how he could leave the house during an argument, which sounds good except that he would start arguments just to leave the house for hours or days at a time and go drinking while I took care of the kids. What was really weird was that I had called her ahead of time to explain that he was abusive and she said she had training, which I found out years later she didn’t. The abuser has to have power over his victim, bigger size, strength, finances, something that causes fear. Of course I got angry at him sometimes, but he wasn’t AFRAID of me.
    Anyway, I am so glad you’ve given yourself the gift of the rest of your life! Happiness is the best revenge!

    • Thanks for your reply! So great to know I’m not alone. My ex too abused “time outs” in the exact same way, creating arguments so he could go drink. Disgusting. There are so many sites out there abput people missing their abusive ex…. how wonderfully refreshing it was to read that actually life gets better the day you make that decision to leave. It’s like drug withdrawal. Of course he will try to get to me thru our sons…i’d rather not think about that just now. At least i am prepared for it. I’d never deny access to them so he has nothing against me. His words are no longer law to me, they are a series of desperate manipulation attempts that thanks to his mighty slaps now fall on deaf ears. Thanks again. your story strength n insights have really inspired me 🙂

  6. Love love love this! I need to be reminded every second about the SILENCE bit: not responding/reaching out to him, and not talking smack about him. My ex is one of those Jeckyl and Hyde dudes with a squeaky-clean public persona. Part of my desperately wants to shout from the rooftops about how he treats me, but it’ll only make me look nuts. At home he was demonic to me, but in public, or sometimes randomly at home, he’d be sweet as pie. I’m realizing now it is probably narcissistic personality disorder and/or borderline personality disorder, because I swear to god I screened this man before marriage. We even did premarital counseling for almost a year. I’m still so plugged into him and we are sharing custody of our child, so there’s always some reason I can concoct to email him or respond to his emails– but honestly, the less contact with him, the freer and saner and calmer I get. Sometimes I wish his abuse was less covert so I could’ve gotten full custody, but I’m just glad I’m FREE. I trust that our child will see him for who he is in time. Other people might not ever see it, but that’s none of my business. It’s my job to heal and grow and be a solid mother, not to try and tell everyone what a horrible person he is. (Not say in’ it’s easy. It’s hell, but it sure beats staying with him!!)

  7. I am going through a very hard time right now in my life. I finally walked away from a 2 year abusive relationship and is very hard to start over while he is still tryng to reach me in every way possible. It hurts very much but I keep reminding myself about why I left him in the first place. This article was amazing it really gave me piece of mind and reminded me that he’s only tryng to suck me back in. The advice was very helpful. Thank you very much for posting this.

  8. im currently going through this with my ex! He was violent to me and had been infront of our children! I have turned my back on him and cut out the contact with him!
    6 mths on he send me random invites, pics, compains he cant afford the maintenence, says he fears he may lose interest in our children if we cant be friends! He had it all on a plate and screwed it all up because he got drunk and behaved violently!
    I wish he would leave me alone and move on and find a different victim!

  9. Thanks for this. I’m lucky in that I left early (after 10 months) but all the early warning signs were there, and if my therapist hadn’t been as good as he was, I may have let it go on longer. The emotional abuse had already started, and the way he handled the breakup (refusal to accept it, followed by more abuse, and yes, labeling me as “narcissistic” and “abusive”) has made it really clear that I did the right thing. Sometimes you want to give someone a chance to be who they can be, but not at the expense of yourself.

  10. i am going through this exact situation. i finally packed mine and my childrens things about a month ago. I was in an abusive relationship for 7 1/2 years and this is great advice. i love it so much i bookmarked it so i can go back and read this. I had cut off all contact with him the after the first week i left him. my problem is that i live a few blocks down from him and i may run into him. i hear that he’s been spotted driving by my house multiple times. not really sure what he is capable of. but i will stick to my guns and act like he does not even exist.

  11. I am also dealing with a break up literately this week, I am so afraid I will fall for these things again.
    I feel lots of guilt as he stopped hitting me 2 and a half years ago (we’ve been together 7 years). Though I’ve been told that once the violence doesn’t work to control someone anymore, they won’t use it. So I feel a large amount of guilt. But at the same time I know its still not right I should be given more respect I’ve recorded one of our conversations and its helps a lot, as it helps me to remember the way he behaves. I hope this helps me stay strong! If anyones been at this stage and has any support that would be great x

  12. I am also dealing with a break up literately this week, I am so afraid I will fall for these things again.
    I feel lots of guilt as he stopped hitting me 2 and a half years ago (we’ve been together 7 years). Though I’ve been told that once the violence doesn’t work to control someone anymore, they won’t use it. So I feel a large amount of guilt. But at the same time I know its still not right I should be given more respect I’ve recorded one of our conversations and its helps a lot, as it helps me to remember the way he behaves. I hope this helps me stay strong! If anyones been at this stage and has any support that would be great x

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