In both my personal and professional lives, I am shocked when I come across grown ass adults who not only employ maladaptive behaviors, but defend them as inevitable.
“This is who I am,” they say when you point it out. If you’re lucky, they might stop and even apologize after the initial burst(s) of defensiveness and justification. If you’re not lucky, calling out someone’s abusive, intrusive, manipulative, and downright insulting behavior can backfire in ways that are hard to predict. They may (remember this for later):
- double down on their abuse towards their victim
- make you a target of their abuse as well, or make others who defend you a target of their abuse so you stop asking for help
- attack you into backing down
- gaslight you into believing that you’re the one who is the problem
- manipulate others who don’t have the whole story into taking their side
- “tap in” others like them as reinforcements
- wage a social and economic campaign to discredit you
- stop the behavior, and then start back up again when your shields are down
- employ a different maladaptive behavior, challenging you to address it separately.
Do you recognize this person? Are you dealing with them right now and don’t know what to do? If you are, first of all, I’m sorry. We live in a world that makes you responsible for being wary about these kinds of people, looking out for the red flags, and picking up the pieces after the abuse.
There is an infinite amount of literature and unsolicited advice out there for victims. Resources? Ehhhh… not so much. Social and financial support? Ehhhh… maybe if you’re lucky. And I wholeheartedly believe that it’s designed that way, which is why I’m not talking to the victims in this piece. I’m talking to the abusers.
- Do you recognize yourself as this person?
- Are you getting defensive?
- Do you think maybe I should mind my own business?
- Or maybe that I don’t know jack shit, and I should just shut the fuck up?
Hi. I’m Andrea. Let’s talk.