Three Ways to Soften the Power of Abuse and Have Some Control

Recently, we made a post about going “no contact”. It was incredibly popular and we received several messages asking about how to go no contact with abusive individuals. As a result, we decided we ought to blog about some suggestions as to how to protect oneself. At Give Her Wings, we consider three different methods of “managing” these high conflict personalities (with several caveats) to be basic strategies.

1. No Contact: This is the most highly recommended form of avoiding abuse. We cannot stress the need to be free of abuse enough. We urge no contact over and over and over again. No contact means no communication via phone, texting, email and “in person”. But, it also means no peeking at a person’s social media. No twitter, no breezing through photos, no Facebook, nothing. Furthermore, it means asking others to refrain from communicating with you about the abuser, as well. This can all be very difficult for two reasons. First, it is overwhelmingly problematic for a former victim to go no contact. We do believe there is such a thing as Stockholm Syndrome. There is also a great, big natural desire to forgive, forget and move forward. It is often too difficult to sift through all of the painful feelings, PTSD and intense desire for things to be “set right”, especially when the abusive person is love-bombing. The victim finds herself alone, being pursued and struggling with breaking trauma bonds. Truly, only the power of Christ can help her. Second, it can cause conflict or uncomfortable feelings when we have to ask a person to stop talking about, sharing or gossiping about said abuser. I have written a little guide on writing friendly notes concerning setting up boundaries here.

2. Low-Contact must occur when a former victim is unable to completely disconnect. This is seen, mostly, when a victim has to parallel parent with an abuser. This, also, is extremely taxing. We hear, repeatedly, how deeply a former victim wants to be completely liberated from the abuser. These momentary connections with an abuser are used and manipulated (by him) to try to pull the former victim back into the fog. Or, he jabs at her, throws her off balance or attempts to make her feel as though she will never be free of his influence. It is simply awful. In order to go low-contact, a former victim needs to shut down as many avenues of communication as possible and leave the door open for only one. Conversation must be limited, as well. For example, “John, I will only communicate to you via email and only about the children. If you cannot abide by this, I will contact my attorney for further advise”. And then, the former victim must be strong enough to keep to this promise or else be ready to inflict consequences. It always helps to have accountability. Perhaps someone to call or text when the temptation to stray away from these boundaries threatens to overcome. So, at this point, we just want to admit that we know there are a million different scenarios. Maybe low-contact is not even possible, which brings us to our final suggestion . . .

3. Grey Rock Method: We drew the name for this technique from this article here: The Gray Rock Method of Dealing with Psychopaths.  Essentially, the author writes that one way of warding off the attacks of an abuser (particularly one with whom a victim shares custody of children) is to be a “boring person”. To be a gray rock; to be bland. In other words, to have an emotionless affect when an abuser jabs. Many psychopaths, sociopaths or those who are just flat out emotionally draining crave drama. If we do not give into that drama, they will soon lose interest and, perhaps, wander away on their own, eventually looking for a new place to stir up crazy. This method is different than just cutting abusers off.

The article makes sense and there is much good to be pulled from it. At the same time, we want to caution readers to recognize that it is not written from a Christian world view. That does not mean there are not some gems in there (as we have seen time and time again from “secular” psychologists and authors). But, there are a few times in reading the article where it is obvious the author may not share the same values as we. We also cannot claim that the gray rock method. will “work”. But, it might. And it is certainly something to explore.

One positive aspect of the gray rock method is that it keeps the victim from feeling powerless or losing control. It may anger the abuser more — for he or she cannot get a “rise” out of the victim — but it may aid in helping the victim to stop feeling so powerless, crazy or out of control. We do caution our readers, however, to be careful. If “gray-rocking” makes an abuser angry, there needs to be another way. I do know that some abusers scream and scream and do all they can to get a rise out of the victim. Of course, this is miserable.

We hope that this helps, as a short guide, all of you precious ladies who are trying to enforce boundaries and feel as though you have some control over your life! If you know of any other methods or you have thoughts or ideas, please comment!

Remember,  each time you allow him to have unnecessary contact, in your life, you are allowing him to abuse you all over again. You are too precious and too valued to allow that — ever again. No contact. Low contact. Grey Rock. You can do this.



4 Replies to “Three Ways to Soften the Power of Abuse and Have Some Control”

  1. This is excellent advice. Among the most common rationales I hear from abuse victims are, “he just doesn’t get it,” or “his thinking is messed up.” The victim seems certain that her abuser is just misreading her, so she is ever looking for new ways to assure him of her good intentions. The reality is that he is deliberately contorting his victim’s messages and hooking her into crazy-making conversations that she simply cannot win.

    Another useful exercise I’ve shared with abuse victims is to mentally identify the abuser’s MO in the moment. When he says something cruel or manipulative, rather than thinking, “That was a terrible thing to say, ” a victim can take a step back and affirm inwardly, “There it is. That’s abuse.” Suddenly, she begins to see her abuser for who he is rather than receiving or trying to counter what he is saying.

    All good stuff that empower victims to see the truth and better protect themselves.

  2. First, I find the white on black very difficult to read.
    Second, even after having left the emotionally abusive spiritual abuse of the pastor, so often I find the situations rehearsing in my mind from one trigger or another. This is a good reminder to avoid “no contact” in the mind as well.
    Thank you.

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