Last night a friend of mine shared something that I feel calls for a new blog on the subject. Not only to hopefully help her but to help shed some light on the subject of abuse in hopes of helping others understand a problem that faces so many.
Now I am no expert on the subject however I have had some personal experiences dealing with abuse on various levels, I've read some amazing books on the subject as well as delving deep within and analyzing the issues that surround abuse. Although the truth hurts, many must inevitably face the fact that abuse doesn't necessarily start with the abuser (typically the man) it actually stems from much deeper issues within the 'victim' (typically the woman.)
According to Sandra L. Brown who holds a Masters Degree in Counseling and has been working with both the abuser and the victim for about 15 plus years, it is the woman (in some cases the man who is being abused) "You're the one selecting, you're the one choosing to be with them..." most of us don't normally find ourselves in a relationship without first 'choosing' to be in one! As Sandra so eloquently puts it, it is the 'victim' who, somewhere in their life learned how to normalize abusive behavior, therefore thinking 'oh they just have a temper' or 'they like their beer' as opposed to seeing them for what they really are, abusive, an alcoholic or an addict.
What it boils down to is that among the various types of dangerous men, women have somehow rationalized their behavior or think 'they'll change' or they can help them change. When in fact the truth of the matter is that it is 'us' that must change the type of men we choose. Many of us have grown up with 'bad' role models so we don't know what a normal relationship 'looks' like, hence 'we' don't know how to have a healthy relationship. On the other hand, many women have had great role models but maybe their mother with somewhat old fashioned viewpoints on what a 'good' man is merely one who has a good job or is handsome. My own Mom was one such example. She used to encourage me to date someone because they were handsome & / or because they had a high paying job. When in reality these things don't make a man a good choice for a partner, one must look deeper to see them for what they really are, what kind of man are they really? A man could be a wonderful husband even though he doesn't fit into our mothers' idea of what a 'good' man is based on wealth and looks.
What I have learned is that many times there is also something within us that somehow 'attracts' the dangerous man into our lives. Some key examples are low self-esteem, feeling unworthy of love but searching for it none the less, & / or the feeling of being a 'victim' which in itself attracts more victimization into ones life. So in essence if you feel that you are a victim the law of attraction places that into your life, creating opportunities for you to replay the role of being a victim. Although we say that's not what we want, by allowing ourselves to feel as though we have been victimized, one creates the situation to replay itself. If we look at it as an experience in which to grow, we are no longer the victim.
In my personal experience, I have seen that being too trusting and open also places a target on one's back, so to speak. What I learned is that abusers prey (whether consciously or subconsciously) on women who are trustworthy because we lay all of our cards out on the table, openly and honestly showing our weaknesses. As women we feel that being honest, open and trustworthy are good traits to have and in essence, they are. However if we share everything and trust too soon, we place ourselves in the predators hands. It is us that must ultimately decide if someone is relationship material and whether or not they meet our standards of a man we choose to have in our lives. I have learned to listen to my gut feelings, my instincts and that little voice in my head when it warns me, which I know has saved me from getting involved with abusers.
Gavin de Becker author of The Gift of Fear explains that we must listen to our instincts as they are our internal warning systems that pick up on more than what we see on the outer layer of someone and of situations that we find ourselves in. I can recall with precise clarity each time my instincts warned me about someone before I got involved with them. I remember every detail and the words I told myself which wound up landing me in relationships that were not healthy. One being 'oh, he's a nice guy! I have no proof or valid reason to believe he's abusive or not trustworthy.' According to Gavin, we should never talk ourselves out of heeding the warnings that our instincts tell us whether we have proof or reason to support the instinct or not.
For it is within our gut instincts that our lives are dependent upon. If we choose to listen to our instincts we can save ourselves a tremendous amount of grief, heart ache and quite possibly save our lives. Some may say that they never had a gut instinct warning them about a person or situation, that may be because one has gotten so accustomed to ignoring their gut instinct that they no longer hear it when it may be screaming out to them. Gavin's book The Gift of Fear can help you to 'turn on' your instincts once again and learn to listen and eventually save your life. I highly recommend this book to both men and women, young and old. It is not geared towards abusive relationships but more towards trusting your instincts in every situation imaginable.
In my opinion Sandra L. Brown, M.A. wrote one of the best books on the subject of how to spot a dangerous man and one that truly can help change a person's life, man and woman alike. It helps one look back on past relationships and see what it is within us that causes us to be in a relationship that is dangerous.
Some women claim that they just love the bad boys, when in fact it is the 'bad boys' that are among the most abusive of all. I highly recommend her book 'How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved' to all women whether you have been abused or not. It is a great tool to help one in many areas of life and it helps one to recognize problems within ourselves we may not have even realized we had, before it's too late.
Below is a link to an audio recording of an interview with Sandra L. Brown, check it out!
Sandra's Website: www.saferelationshipsmagazine.com
Love & Light,
Love & Light,
p.s. I signed up for Sandra Brown's newsletters on her site (link above) and I received the below.
Five Ways To Find 'Safe' Love
In our surveys, we have found that women spend far more time on learning how to 'attract' or 'keep' a relationship, then looking at the health of it, or leaving it.
If you look at most of the relationship books, it's all about how to find him, attract him, keep him, and get back together with him. But what if what you always seem to attract is unhealthy men? Then your Guy Magnet is not a good thing. Women who have been in dangerous relationships are often more 'attracted to' the bad boys then healthy men. In fact, most women say that if given the choose between the 'nice guy' and the 'edgey bad boy' they would pick the guy with 'the edge.' Women say they often don't even know what 'healthy is' in a relationship. Even knowing that they don't know what 'healthy is' does not slow them or stop them from dating until they figure out what healthy looks like. They keep doing the same thing and getting the same thing--dangerous relationships.
TIME OUT: GAME OFF! If your last 3 or 4 relationships have been unhealthy or even down right dangerous, STOP. Put yourself on a 'Do Not Date Program' until you get some help to find out 'how to spot' unhealthy and dangerous relationships. YOU CAN'T CHANGE WHAT YOU DON'T SEE.
What are some ways to find 'Safe' love?
1. Stop dating until you can learn to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy. If you can't name the 14 signs of a bad dating choice, you shouldn't be dating! If you want to know what those are--get the Dangerous Man book.
2. How are your break up skills? Women worry more about their dating skills then their break up skills. But if you keep picking the dangerous guys, you better know how to quickly and safely end it! These guys do not break up like normal men do. Additionally, women who have been in more than 1 dangerous relationship tend to be women who wait to be 'released from the relationship'--that means, they wait for him to end it and stay far longer than they feel safe doing. However, since they don't know 'how' to end it, they don't. To find 'Safe' love, learn how to break up.
3. You steer the ship. Women often let the man decide the pace of the relationship--how often they see each other and how fast they get serious. Guess what? Predators have agendas. They want to see you 24/7, they want you to 'think' you have this fast and deep relationship when you've only been dating a few months. You are their 'soul mate' and it's 'never been like this with anyone else.' 24/7 does NOT mean he's 'that into you.' It is often a red flag for predatory agendas. Women should be in charge of the pacing. If you have been doing the 24/7 Tango, pull the plug. Tell him you need a breather for a few days and would like to get to a normal dating schedule (a few times a week). Normal men will accept it. Pathological and dangerous men will: guilt you, rage, blame you, accuse you of seeing other people, threaten to break up, call you/text you 40 times a day. That's NOT normal. But it's best you see that now rather than when he has moved in. Women should always PLAY with the pacing and see what reaction they get.
4. Learn his history. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. What is his past? If you feel like you can't take his word for it, then for $29.95 you can find out ALOT about what he has been up to in the past. Things I always look for as a therapist are, his criminal history, his relationship history, his mental health history.
And contrary to what he might be saying, all the other women weren't 'witches, psycho, or ignorant.' His relationship history is his alone and points to how successful he is at handling the challenges and hurdles of relationship life.
5. Listen to others. STOP 'dissing your girlfriends when they tell you the TRUTH about him. The people around you are your best opportunity to hear about him--to tell you if they are concerned about something, to tell you if you have changed for the worse during this relationship, or to point out patterns that notice in the men you choose. Take your fingers out of your ears and hear it.
Women who want healthier and safer relationships have to begin by acknowledging what they have been in up until now and take the steps to learn and change. If we can help, please let us know.
Here's to Safe Relationships in 2007,
Sandra L. Brown
Psychotherapist & Author
How to Spot a Dangerous Man
Counseling Victims of Violence
Sandra L. Brown, holds a Masters Degree in Counseling and is the Director of The Dangerous Relationship Institute: A Women’s Relational Harm Reduction and Public Psychopathy Education Project. She is the author of ‘How to Spot a Dangerous Man’ and is a psychotherapist and author. www.HowToSpotADangerousMan.com
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