Thursday Thought — The Slow Build of Harm
I have heard the effects of living with an abusive partner compared to (get ready for this) a frog being boiled alive. They say that if you threw a frog into hot water, it would jump back out immediately, alive and with only minor injuries. If, on the other hand, you put the frog into water at room temperature and then very gradually warmed it up, the frog would adapt to each incremental addition of heat, and wouldn’t perceive the danger until it was too late and it had cooked.
The point of this comparison is that emotional harm can creep up on you gradually. As a result, it’s hard to even tell that your partner’s behavior is what is causing your difficulties. It just seems like life is getting harder, or like you aren’t the same person you used to be, but you aren’t sure why.
Some women don’t realize how badly they’ve been affected until the relationship ends, and they discover what normal life is like; suddenly they aren’t tense and worried all the time, they aren’t afraid to talk to people, they aren’t constantly apologizing. Women have said to me, “It was like I could suddenly breathe again, and I hadn’t even noticed I was gasping for air.”
Remember the person you were before this relationship started. Was she a happier person? Did she have more friends and social relationships? Was she calmer? Did she feel better about herself? Did she have ambitions and dreams? Was she in better health?
[entry from Lundy Bancroft’s book, Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That? pp377-8]
***IMPORTANT NOTE: While we endorse Lundy’s writings about the dynamics of domestic abuse, we do not recommend anyone attend the ‘healing retreats’ Lundy Bancroft offers or become involved in his ‘Peak Living Network.’ See our post, ACFJ Does Not Recommend Lundy Bancroft’s Retreats or His New Peak Living Network for more about our concerns.
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