Has someone every tried to use fear to get what they wanted from you? I find this quite common in abusive situations and relationships, it certainly was common in my marriage. I spoke recently with a woman who was going through the same thing with her ex-husband. We talked about starving the fear he was attempting to use to manipulate and control her. After our conversation, I started thinking about what I could tell people that could help them stop this type of manipulative behavior in its tracks. These specific action steps worked for me and they can work for you too. As always, if you are in an abusive situation, take note of your safety and the safety of your family first! Take these actions steps from a physically and emotionally safe place!
How do you starve the fear someone is using against you?
First, you call out the lies. Where there is fear, there are lies - lies about you, lies about them, lies about others and lies about the situation. Call out these lies immediately; the manipulator will not know quite how to take you when you don't accept their lies. You don't have to yell, scream, cuss or call anyone names to call out lies (although you may feel like doing so). You simply state the facts calmly and clearly.
The next course of action is to walk away from a disrespectful conversation. This can involve physically walking away, hanging up the phone, turning off the phone or logging off the computer. No one has the right to verbally assault you. No one has the right to call you names and no one has the right to make you feel worthless. When you walk away, you are saying to the other person, "I don't like what you are doing and I am not going to continue this conversation until you can speak respectfully to me." In fact before you walk away, hang up or log off, you need to say those very words calmly and clearly. Say them once and then be gone!
The last course of action may very well involve having no contact whatsoever with the person trying to use fear in your life. Family and friends need to be aware of the situation and that you don't want contact with this person. If you find someone is not honoring your request or you have what is called a "mole" in the crime fighting world, you may have to cut ties with that person for awhile or permanently. You safety and the safety of your family is paramount. This is very true for men and women coming out of an abusive situation and may include a change of phone numbers, a physical move, change of social media profiles, deleting and blocking people on social media or no social media at all for awhile. A person can't frighten you if they can't reach or find you on social media or even in person. One thing I have found about abusers in particular is they are not as smart as they want you to think they are. They are cowards who use fear and intimidation to feel better about themselves and to make themselves seem smart.
As you take these action steps, surround yourself with safe people and safe places. Have a plan to get to safety if you are dealing with a violent or unpredicatable person - remember they are acting in the anger and rage of the moment so they won't be thinking clearly. When you show calm, calculating actions to an abuser at any step in this process, they know their fear isn't working and they don't have you by the tail. In that moment, you have won! You have not only starved their fear, you have killed it! This can and will actually frighten them!
My hope for anyone reading this blog today is that you will consider these steps in your battle against the fear and manipulation being used against you. There is freedom on the other side when we starve and kill fear - freedom for us and freedom for our family!
Starving fear always,