Did your gut instinct tell you that something wasn’t right when you met the emotional abuser?
If so, you’re not alone.
Almost every client I’ve ever worked with, myself included, felt that something was ‘off’ in the early days.
It’s often a throw away remark, a dark look or a one off behaviour that just doesn’t ‘feel’ right.
But because they are skilled at ‘impression management’, we tend to brush the feeling aside, even though our gut instinct is screaming at us.
There is an old saying that ‘when people tell you who they are believe them’. This is so true.
Toxic people tell you who they are by saying-
‘When you get to know me, you won’t like me’
‘If we ever argue and I say really hurtful things, just ignore me’
‘Sometimes I’m really cruel but only when I’m drunk’
‘I’ve never been faithful to anyone but you’re different’
‘My ex was a crazy jealous stalker who checked up on me, but you’d never do that’
‘My last employee left because she couldn’t take a bit of sexual banter’.
‘I don’t speak to my family, they hate me’
My ex-girlfriend accused me of breaking her arm but I only pushed her’
These statements are designed to appeal to your better nature.
Even though our internal alarm bells are ringing, as conscientious, good people who think the best of people, we disregard our feelings and jump to the defence of this charming, attractive, character who deserves to be commended for being so honest.
Rather than perceive this as a red flag, we take it as a sign that this person trusts us enough to be so vulnerable and we strive to reassure and convince them that we are indeed different and would never let them down, leave them or behave in a mean and selfish manner with someone who is merely…misunderstood.
But hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it.
Looking back, we realise that this this person was toxic. That they were not deeply misunderstood and they were in their own way telling us who they are and what to expect.
So the next time you get that ‘feeling’ trust yourself.
Listen to your body and your inner voice but more than anything, listen to people when they tell you who they are-
And believe them.
Jacqueline Groves is a counsellor/coach specializing in emotional abuse recovery from toxic relationships with a partner, family member, friends or work associate.