We live in a world where one must stand up to abuse. If I don't stand up to it, it won't stop. In fact, abuse that isn't stopped gets worse. Fortunately, this doesn't mean I have to become abusive myself.
I don't try to use communication skills with abusers. These only work with cooperative people. Telling a sadist how you feel about being hurt only pours gas on the fire.
What I do is slip into warrior mode and use self defense skills. Generally what I'm defending myself against is melodrama.
What it is: Melodrama is a bitter mother yelling at her children. It's a distant father telling lies about the mother to the inlaws. It's a father kidnapping the children and the mother gathering the inlaws to go to Texas and kidnap them back. It's a mother making her young son her confidant rather than her husband. It's getting people to fight over your attentions. It's keeping agreements only when it's to your advantage. It's taking what you want without regard for the rights or feelings of others....
It's using manipulation, lies, accusations, grilling, threats, gossip and intimidation for control. And the control is directed towards ruthless self interest. It's sarcasm, criticism and contempt. It's using whatever works to get your way: bullying, whining, blaming, shows of anger,.... Warriors use manipulation and lies, but only for the good of the person being manipulated, and warriors never intimidate.
Here's a quote from a client who grew up in a melodramatic family. "Some believe that everything we do is motivated by either love or fear. Melodrama is theatre, not reality. People who are afraid construct a false reality that enables them to hide while they act out a seemingly exuberant (although a safe and scripted) existance. Then, if someone is threatens their position, they can change direction instantly or just run off the stage and disappear without being known or held accountable. Melodrama is the saccharine sugar substitute that 'safely' takes the place of real loving relationships that are not scripted and therefore contain risk."
Source: People who are afraid of real feelings fill their lives with melodrama instead. The fake feelings in melodrama are surprise, dismay, outrage, revenge, triumph and so forth.
Dynamics: Most melodramas are based on betrayal, and can be recognized by the moment of surprise, the switch when you're betrayed.
Classic: The most classic 3-handed melodrama goes like this: Persecutor attacks the Victim, Rescuer comes in to save the Victim, and the Persecutor and Victim join together and attack the Rescuer, who feels confused and betrayed. But there are many more melodramas....
Game Theory: People who devote their lives to melodrama learn many of these games. You can read more about them in "Games People Play," by Eric Berne.
Some examples are:
"Poor Me:" manipulating others with self-pity.
"See What You Made Me Do:" passing the buck and blaming.
"Rapo:" acting seductively to set up rejection.
"Uproar:" provoking upsets to avoid intimacy.
"If It Weren't for You:" blaming others for failures.
"Corner:" provocation and double binds.
"Frigid:" playing catch me if you can.
"Let's You and Him Fight:" getting others to fight over you.
"Kick Me:" provoking abuse, why does this always happen to me?
"Now I've Got You, You SOB:" looking for an excuse to attack.
"Harried:" staying busy to avoid life.
"Yes, But...:" using reasonableness to justify failure or refusal.
"Happy to Help:" deriving satisfaction from helping others.
"They'll Be Blad They Knew Me:" treating people well.
Love Theory: It's vital to remember that much of the time what looks like melodrama is really just people making mistakes. People lack skills, and a lot of the time they have no idea how they're coming across. One of the main skills people often lack is thinking things through.
People make mistakes all the time, and they need corrected, of course, but otherwise they're no big deal.
Script Theory: People who devote their lives to melodrama develop a life-long game. I have a Sleeping Beauty, a Cinderella and a Pinnochio (married to a Geppeto) in my practice right now. My script, by the way, is The Ugly Duckling. One can blossom, even late in life.
Some common Victim Scripts:
(1) Plastic Woman, obsessed by appearances, afraid to love herself.
(2) Poor Little Me, helpless victim, afraid to take care of herself.
(3) Creeping Beauty, lonely, doesn't like herself, afraid to do meaningful things.
(4) Fat Person, overly self-protective, afraid to be angry or say no.
(5) Playboy, endlessly searching for appearances, afraid to be real, afraid of connection.
(6) Man In Front Of The Woman, promotes the sham, afraid to be equal.
Some common Rescuer Scripts:
(1) Woman Behind The Man, supports husband, afraid to use her own talents.
(2) Mother Hubbard, takes care of everyone but herself, afraid of life.
(3) Nurse, professional rescuer, afraid to ask for what she wants.
(4) Big Daddy, burdened by responsibility, afraid to enjoy.
Some common Persecutor Scripts:
(1) Guerrilla Witch, trouble-maker, afraid to like others.
(2) Tough Lady or Woman-Hater, lonely, afraid to trust or love.
(3) Queen Bee, successful in a man's world, afraid to cooperate.
(4) Jock, competitive, afraid to be smart.
(5) Intellectual, reason prevails, afraid to feel.
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