In the last two posts we looked at how we can stand strong against our abuser’s attempts to continue the relationship by turning on the Mr. Wonderful act and playing games with us to gain our sympathy and lure us back. In this final post, we’ll look at how we can respond to our ex’s attempts to re-establish their power position.
Lacking power in our former relationship, we spent a lot of time justifying ourselves durring our partners’ interrogation and accusations. Over the years, it became rote. Without missing a beat, our immediate response is to explain and defend ourselves.
After leaving our partners, we do not have to listen to or respond to their interrogations. And we shouldn’t. Abusers often aren’t interested in our responses anyway. We know they will never see our point of view or change theirs. We also know that our partners excel at twisting our words to make us sound crazy, stupid and inept. Their intention is to use this interaction to stir up the self-debasing messages they’ve planted in us, making us feel inadequate, fearful and powerless. By re-creating the unequal balance of power environment, they believe they have more leverage to bully us into complying with their demands. The best way to avoid this is to not converse with them.
One of my therapists helped me develop what she called Broken Record Responses, pat replies designed to end a conversation politely and firmly. These did not include any information about me, my plans for the future or give any opening that allowed for further inquiry or response from my ex. We know that any information we give our exes can provide them with areas where we are vulnerable, opening us up to attack. You owe your ex no information beyond what the court orders you to disclose.
Below are some examples you can use to put an end to the conversation. Develop statements that are unique to your situation. When your ex tries to start a conversation or provoke you, use the broken record response that fits. If he persists, repeat it once more, then walk away.
- “The children and I are fine. Thank you for your concern.”
- “I have it under control.”
- “You can direct your questions and concerns to my attorney.”
- “I’ll take that up with my attorney.”
It’s important to remain firm and direct with your ex. Never waste your time arguing with him. Keeping your focus on him is exactly what he wants. The longer he can keep you engaged the longer he will continue to play games with you. Over time, your ex will get tired of hearing the broken record responses and know that his tactics will no longer work with you.
In closing, I want to say, I love Taylor Swift’s song “We are never, ever ever ever getting back together, like never.” I find it empowering.
What worked for you? Click on the comments link below and share your thoughts with us.