Communication Can Change After Leaving an Abuser- For the Better
It’s common to feel frustrated at the way communication has been. One-sided, usually. He tells you what to do when to do it. You never get the chance to defend yourself. And the few times you have- didn’t end well. While I didn’t feel like these communication skills were earth-shaking, they did however shake the world of people struggling to stay in control of you!
My best advice to remember while you change the way you communicate with your abuser is to remember that outward behavior is an indicator of inward frustration.
The more out of control they are the more out of control they feel. And if they feel out of control then it’s likely because they are not in control. If he does not have control over you- then you do.
So here are a few ways you can stay in control and change the communication that usually ends up in your relationship.
Here are a few points we will cover…
1. Non vulnerable Posture When Communicating
2. Prepare your Heart for What You Will Read
3. .Preread Messages
4. Ground Yourself in Scripture
5. Wait at Least 24 Hours
6. Don’t Take the Bait
7. Use TalkingParents
8. Keep Responses Minimal
Nonvulnerable Posture when Communicating
I know this one is weird, but hear me out. Your laying in bed you get a notification that you have a message from your husband, whom you are separating from. You open it up and read it. What’s the big deal? You are safe in your bed and now he is in that space with you. Even though he is not there, your body still has a response to the trauma you endured with him, and even a message can trigger that.
Creating a safe place for you to heal, means that he is not physically allowed in certain places with you. You will have to determine where you will set the physical boundary. Will he be allowed into your room? Into your home? Will he be allowed into your car? Will you allow yourself to be alone around him?
These boundaries need to also be kept even if he is not there. Can you have a close friend be near when you read messages? Can you be intentional to not be in a vulnerable position when you open messages of him, listen to voicemail or even talk about him?
Prepare Your Heart for What You Will Read
You have already experienced some pretty heavy things. Expect more of that, only worse. He will blame you for the failed marriage. It’s not likely that there will be any responsibility taken on his end, though if he does it will be minimal. Prepare yourself, don’t let yourself expect anything more than what you have already been given.
I know, I know it can be a lot to ask. But having someone, a sister, friend parent, look read your messages for you can help you. Maybe you read messages together, or maybe they just read it and let you know if there is any you need to respond to. This can be especially helpful in the beginning.
You may be dealing with a lot of guilt, the way I did. But this step helped me so much. I was able to heal and work through things without having to deal with a lot of new guilt being heaped onto me.
Ground Yourself In Scripture
what better way to ground yourself than to do it in the truth of God. Pick a couple of comforting passages and memorize them, or keep them handy. Say a prayer and then proceed with God as your guide.
Wait at Least 24 Hours- to Read and Respond to Messages
When the abusive husband seems to have lost control over you he will try to regain control in a few ways. 1. He will try to wear you down, constantly pestering you and giving you no room to breathe. 2. He will act as if everything is an emergency, and you must talk to him right away.
But waiting to read messages and waiting to respond helps keep you in control. You cannot choose what he says or how he speaks to you. Communication happened on your terms when you wait.
This may feel very strange at first, but as I did, I hope you find some peace as you learn to take your power back.
Don’t Take the Bait
You could refuse to respond to certain things. Some communication can be kept between attorneys, some things you can handle on your own, and some conversations do not need to be had at all. You may refuse to speak about your relationship with him and keep things 100% about the children. You are allowed to ignore hurtful and mean comments. If the message gets off-topic, it’s also okay to quit reading it.
Use Talking Parents
TalkingParents is a communication app that allows for conversations between two parents. You can set calendar reminders, send messages and even attach documents. There is a time stamp on when the message was sent and when it was read. The great thing about this is that messages cannot be deleted. So there can be no argument if messages were sent or not.
TalkingPrarrents is also a great way to be able to pull conversation from if you ever need to use them in court. They are also much neater than using screenshots of text messages.
The thing I love most for victims is being less accessible to their abusers. This app allows you to receive an email notification for messages you receive. There is not consistent ringing for text messages coming in and no obvious messages that haven’t been opened yet. You get to read and respond on your terms.
Keep Responses Minimal
Keeping your responses short and sweet can help you not be overwhelmed by crafting a lengthy response. It can also help you to keep the conversation on track. It’s likely he will go off on tangents, but if you keep to the point then you won’t be a participant in his arguments.
Be aware that this feels so weird in the beginning. You will soon start to see that way things change as you choose to respond differently. These can help you stay in control over yourself and minimize the fights that typically happen.
Don’t worry about trying to remember all of these. You can choose one or two to start with, and come back to remind yourself as often as you need to.
I would love to hear about which of these you have tried. How did they work for you?