What Can We Do to Prevent Abuse?

What Can We Do to Prevent Abuse?
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Could it be that I look weak? Why me and not others? Abuse is selective, or so it seems to those who have ever suffered some form of abuse. Abuse can come from our partner, our friends or even our family. Abuse can surprise us at any time and catch us totally off guard.

Abuse can be verbal or physical. Verbal abuse is perhaps the most widespread because of it being the most difficult to detect. It is so subtle that sometimes we cannot find our aggressor because his punches are his words.

“The difference between aggression and abuse is defined by its objective. While aggression is defined as causing injury, abuse is described with words like subjugation, humiliation, domination, fear, slavery, and so on.”

-Juan Antonio Cobo Plana-

Learning to be assertive

hand holding an abused heart-1

The first thing to understand if you do not want to be abused is that we must learn to be assertive. Assertiveness is something you can learn. We learn to enforce our rights, we learn to make them respect us, we learn to express what we feel…

It is very easy to say, but hard to do. And the abuser knows it. That’s why he usually uses situations which leave you totally stunned and surprise you! This way, you do not know what to do.

Until a situation is repeated a second time, you do not know what step to take. You feel confused, maybe lost and your surprise to his reaction leaves you in shock. It is completely normal. The situation sometimes overwhelms you. Various and diverse situations that you never expected to occur, especially by the hand of that person!

“In abuse the mental effect it causes far exceeds the physical damage.”

-Juan Antonio Cobo Plana-

At this point you need to think about whether are you going to respond or react to the abuse. They are two very different things. Remember the important thing is not to enter into the abuser’s game, what matters is that he stops going after us.

In order to not be appealing to the abuser we must know how to counterattack everything he tells us. We do this through assertiveness. Don’t allow anyone to use their power against you; not allowing them to scare us is the best thing we can do.

Do not play their game

man in the center of a heart

As we mentioned, the best thing would be to not play their game. Therefore our response is very important because with it the abuser knows whether to leave us alone or continue. With this, consider some factors that will help you deal with an abuser:

  • The abuser will invoke fear in you. Use it to think quickly, be more alert and know how to respond. Do not let fear paralyze you and cause you to have a mental block.
  • Be firm and question everything the abuser orders you to do. Do not let him know that he can have power over you. Who is he to command anything?
  • Remain sure of yourself. Of course self-confidence is palpable and alienates any abuser looking for a victim.
  • Do not be aggressive because you will be entering into his game. The important thing is not be too submissive or too aggressive. Somewhere in the middle is the way to go.
  • Your body language gives you away. Stay relaxed, look him in the eyes and keep a firm look. It is very important that your voice doesn’t shake and that you are confident at all times.

Certainly there are people who are more exposed than others to abusive people. For example, there are some people who are very resistant to verbal abuse, but for that reason they receive physical abuse. If you find yourself unable to prevent abuse seek help! There are people who can help and support you. You are not alone.

“Psychological abuse completely destroys people. Or harassment, feeling watched, feeling unloved. It is also very painful receive silence, a cold look, or a scornful look. “

-Maria José Rodriguez de Armenta-

womans face hidden by abuse

Learn to say “no,” learn to know what it is you want, what you don’t want to allow, what you deserve… The security in yourself scares off abusers. A high self-esteem and unbreakable security will be your two best weapons so that abusers will flee and not come near you.

Images courtesy of Yu Zhongwen

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.