Abusive personalities are actually people with great self-control. That’s different from the picture you had in your mind, isn’t it?
This person is not out of his mind nuts. He or she is CRAZY like a fox. The abuser is very good at blaming or making excuses for his (or her) behavior. He/she intimidates, threatens, dominates, humiliates, or isolates the victim. This person chooses how he reacts and to whom he will demonstrate his controlling behavior.
The abuser has made a deliberate choice to act in this way to maintain power over a particular person.
Start with prevention. Do what you can to protect your child from being a victim. If you haven’t yet read the 10 Warning Signs of Abuse, please do. Then share it with your child.
Abusers are clever. They don’t act the same around all people. Teach your young person how to think for him or herself, know he/she has worth in God’s eyes (and that is all that matters), to put up healthy boundaries regarding time, money, and relationships. If a significant other steps all over those boundaries, GET OUT.
Fear, anxiety, depression, and low-self worth are feelings your child may have if he or she has an abusive partner. You may see evidence of physical abuse (marks around the neck) and/or notice a personality change. You may observe your child only goes out in public with his or her partner (rarely alone). He or she is highly anxious to please the significant other, fearful of his or her reaction, regularly reports “in” to the partner, receives frequent or harassing phone calls, and submits to whatever that person says or does.
So what does a parent do?
If your young person (over 18) enters into an abusive situation, pay attention.
5 Actions to Take if Your Child is in an Abusive Relationship
1. Maintain the relationship with your young adult as best you can. This is tricky since the abuser’s goal is to severe the relationship.
2. Let your child know how much you care about him or her. Tell her or him regularly.
2. Subtly ask questions. “How do you feel when….?” “Huh, help me understand, why did the plans change?”
3. PRAY your child can process the information and clearly evaluate the relationship.
4. Let your child know you are there for him/ her, always.
5. Talk with a counselor about your suspicions.
You need wise Christian counsel, legal advice, and emotional support going forward.
This situation will NOT get better with time.
If your child is under 18, do some investigative work. Watch for the warning signs. Talk with your child. It is very important to speak with a counselor, a lawyer, and possibly the police about the specifics of your child’s situation. Gather all the facts to make the best and wisest decision as to how to proceed. You have the option to take legal action if your child is a minor.
Hopefully by teaching your children to recognize the warning signs you will have prevented a potential problem. If you are in the middle of this nightmare, please seek help immediately, and pray constantly. Abuse knows no socioeconomic boundaries. Let’s put a stop to it.
Love is patient and kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-5
A personal note from Lori:
If you found this post helpful, you will want to get my newest book, Messy Journey. This issue and other prodigal type of issues are addressed. You will find it hopeful and helpful. Blessings to you, friend. God is with you. ~Lori
© LoriWildenberg. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Lori Wildenberg is a licensed parent and family educator, parent coach, and co-founder of 1Corinthians13 Parenting.com. She has written 6 books including Messy Journey: How Grace and Truth Offer the Prodigal a Way Home; The Messy Life of Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections; and her most recent book, Messy Hope: Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety, Depression, or Suicidal Ideation. Contact Lori for your next event or for parent consulting or parent training courses. Lori can also be found mentoring over at the MOMS Together Group on Facebook.