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Abusive behavior seldom start out in an obvious way. Since abuse is about power and control, the abuser usually begins by breaking down the victim's self-esteem and impairing their ability to fight back or leave.

But abuse rarely remains low-key for long. Since abusers continue to crave that feeling of power and control over someone else or their situation, anything that threatens their emotional stability also threatens their victims. Abuse can escalate quickly.

If you're in an abusive situation, you need to get out as soon as possible. In the meantime, experts say that it's smart to understand what you shouldn't do when trying to manage your situation. Psychologists say that victims should never:

  • Plead with the abuser to get help or not behave abusively. They may view it as weakness and seize the opportunity to do exactly what you are asking them not to do, just to show dominance.
  • Appeasing their demands. Like most bullies, abusive spouses aren't actually going to be happy with whatever concessions you make. They'll likely just "move the bar."
  • Defending yourself. Abusers often hurdle accusations at their victims of infidelity or other relationship failings. When you try to defend yourself from unreasonable accusations, you're playing into the abuser's game by asking them to forgive you for nothing.
  • Trying to make the abuser understand. Your feelings and perspective do not matter to abuser. Make no mistake: Anything you reveal will be twisted around and used against you, if they can.
  • Offering any constructive criticism. Abusive people have fragile egos. They cannot take criticism in any positive way and may lash out at you in response.

If you're trying to escape an abusive situation, a protective order may help. Find out more today.

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