This is… an understandable but absolutely impossible question. It’s really an opinion thing, and like, if you’ve been abused, and you believe all abusers are bad, then that’s fine. If you believe everyone is a mix of good and bad, then that’s fine too.
Like, I find it really hard to believe that my dad was anything but bad. But then I remember how he came and carried me home when I was sick out of town. I remember that he bought me a Barbie for my birthday even though we really couldn’t afford it. I remember that he taught me to love art and books.
But I also remember the terrible things he did to me.
So for me personally, and others can definitely add to this, I think abusers are bad one day and that it’s more complicated the next.
I know that’s probably not a satisfying answer. But I am pretty comfortable in ambiguous thought spaces.
It should be noted, though, that absolutely no amount of other goodness absolves someone of the guilt for abusing someone. This is super important.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:
- Stay with us and keep calm.
The last thing we need when we’re panicking, is to have someone else panicking with us.
- Offer medicine if we usually take it during an attack.
You might have to ask whether or not we take medicine- heck, some might not; but please, ask. It really helps.
- Move us to a quiet place.
We need time to think, to breathe. Being surrounded by people isn’t going to help.
- Don’t make assumptions about what we need. Ask.
We’ll tell you what we need. Sometimes; you may have to ask- but never assume.
- Speak to us in short, simple sentences.
- Be predictable. Avoid surprises.
- Help slow our breathing by breathing us or by counting slowly to 10.
As odd as it sounds, it works.WHAT YOU SHOULDN’T DO:
1. Say, “You have nothing to be panicked about.”
We know. We know. We know. And because we know we have nothing to be panicked about, we panic even more. When I realize that my anxiety is unfounded, I panic even more because then I feel like I’m not in touch with reality. It’s unsettling. Scary.
Most of the time, a panic attack is irrational. Sometimes they stem from circumstances — a certain couch triggers a bad memory or being on an airplane makes you claustrophobic or a break up causes you to flip your lid — but mostly, the reasons I’m panicking are complex, hard to articulate or simply, unknown. I could tell myself all day that I have no reason to be having a panic attack and I would still be panicking. Sometimes, because I’m a perfectionist, I become even more overwhelmed when I think my behaviour is “unacceptable” (as I often believe it is when I’m panicking). I know it’s all in my mind, but my mind can be a pretty dark and scary place when it gets going.
Alternate suggestion: Say, “I understand you’re upset. It is okay. You have a right to be upset and I am here to help.”
2. Say, “Calm down.”
This reminds me of a MadTV sketch where Bob Newhart plays a therapist who tells his patients to simply “Stop it!” whenever they express anxiety or fear. As a sketch, it’s funny. In real life, it’s one of the worst things you can do to someone having a panic attack. When someone tells me to “stop panicking” or to “calm down,” I just think, “Oh, okay. I haven’t tried that one. Hold on, let me get out a pen and paper and jot that down, you jerk.”
Instead of taking action so that they do relax, simply telling a panicking person to “calm down” or “stop it” does nothing. No-thing.
Alternate suggestion: The best thing to do is to listen and support. In order to calm them down without the generalities, counting helps.
3. Say, “I’m just going to leave you alone for a minute.”
Being left alone while panicking makes my heart race even harder. The last thing I want is to be left by myself with my troubled brain. Many of my panic attacks spark from over-thinking and it’s helpful to have another person with me, not only for medical reasons (in case I pass out or need water) but also it’s helpful to have another person around to force me to think about something other than the noise in my head.
Alternate suggestion: It sometimes helps me if the person I’m with distracts me by telling me a story or sings to me. I need to get out of my own head and think about something other than my own panic.
4. Say, “You’re overreacting.”
Here’s the thing: I’m not. Panic attacks might be in my head, but I’m in actual physical pain. If you’d cut open your leg, no one would be telling you you’re overreacting. It’s a common trope in mental health to diminish the feelings or experience of someone suffering from anxiety or panic because there’s no visible physical ailment and because there’s no discernible reason for the person to be having such a strong fear reaction.
The worst thing you can tell someone who is panicking is that they are overreacting.
Alternate suggestion: Treat a panic attack like any other medical emergency. Listen to what the person is telling you. Get them water if they need it. It helps me if someone rubs my back a little. If you’re in over your head, don’t hesitate to call 911 (or whatever the emergency services number is where you are). But please, take the person seriously. Mental health deserves the same respect as physical health.
This needs to be added to first aid certificates courses.
Abusive Expectations - Makes impossible demands, requires constant attention, and constantly criticizes.
Aggressing - Name calling, accusing, blames, threatens or gives orders, and often disguised as a judgmental “I know best” or “helping” attitude.
Constant Chaos - Deliberately starts arguments with you or others. May treat you well in front of others, but changes when you’re alone.
Rejecting - Refusing to acknowledge a person’s value, worth or presence. Communicating that he or she is useless or inferior or devaluing his or her thoughts and feelings.
Denying - Denies personal needs (especially when need is greatest) with the intent of causing hurt or as punishment. Uses silent treatment as punishment. Denies certain events happened or things that were said. Denies your perceptions, memory and sanity by disallowing any viewpoints other than their own which causes self-doubt, confusion, and loss of self-esteem.
Degrading - Any behavior that diminishes the identity, worth or dignity of the person such as: name-calling, mocking, teasing, insulting, ridiculing,
Emotional Blackmail - Uses guilt, compassion, or fear to get what he or she wants.
Terrorizing - Inducing intense fear or terror in a person, by threats or coercion.
Invalidation - Attempts to distort your perception of the world by refusing to acknowledge your personal reality. Says that your emotions and perceptions aren’t real and shouldn’t be trusted.
Isolating - Reducing or restricting freedom and normal contact with others.
Corrupting - Convincing a person to accept and engage in illegal activities.
Exploiting - Using a person for advantage or profit.
Minimizing - A less extreme form of denial that trivializes something you’ve expressed as unimportant or inconsequential.
Unpredictable Responses - Gets angry and upset in a situation that would normally not warrant a response. You walk around on eggshells to avoid any unnecessary drama over innocent comments you make. Drastic mood swings and outbursts.
Gaslighting -A form of psychological abuse involving the manipulation of situations or events that cause a person to be confused or to doubt his perceptions and memories. Gaslighting causes victims to constantly second-guess themselves and wonder if they’re losing their minds.
For future reference.
For those who would ever need it. -C
reblogging here because i can see this being relevant to anyone who’s ever tried to get out of an abusive relationship