How Do (or Did) You Deal With Abuse?

After watching Jaycee Dugard’s interview about her terrible 18 year kidnapping, other survivor’s stories, and years of hearing stories from friends’ abuse from people they know and being involved 1st hand with some situations myself, I thought I should write a much serious issue about dealing with abuse.

Whether it’s happening to you or someone you care about. This much serious issue often happens in relationships, friendships, family, or even work place, whether it’s physical or psychological, it is something that batters an individual mentally, while it’s happening, and often long after getting away from the situation. Everyone else who tries to help may feel helpless and with limitations of what can be done legally, it makes it more difficult. If you or someone you know is or has dealt with abuse, how did you handle the situation, and also not “go insane?”

Jaycee’s abuse were from strangers, which I won’t focus on in this entry. Although I don’t know anyone personally who has gone through such kidnapping and abuse, stories like that is somewhat relatable to non-stranger situations in terms of survival, trust, pain and aftermath. The abuse I will bring up are ones from relationships, friends, family and workplace.

Abuse in the Workplace

How one ends up stuck in an abusive situation at work is probably the “easier to understand” situation for most people. It usually involves people with money, power, and control, and the victim needing to get paid to make ends meet so they stick with the job. I don’t know the real stats, but based on other people’s horror stories and some of my own, I’ll make an educated guess that most people have experienced some sort of abuse at least once in their career.

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced some form of abuse more than once in my career, (luckily nothing physical). One of the jobs that I experienced abuse, was when I was a teen was at a fast food restaurant. I guess you can probably assume that abuse would typically occur in this situation, but it really doesn’t have to. Daily, some co-workers repeatedly made racial derogatory comments by saying “Pork Fried Rice!” and they were friends with a manager from Hell would constantly give me a hard time and harass me, such as walking through the drive thru banging on the glass window and screaming on top of her lungs in anger and pure hatred, “GO MAKE ME A DRINK RIGHT NOWWW!” After 3 weeks I broke down bawling my eyes out to my boss and different manager and quit. Had I been in a more desperate financial situation, I likely would have stuck through the abuse; that is probably what happens in a lot of workplace abuse cases, and where abusive employers take the most advantage of their employees and exploit their financial dependency on the job.

Friend Abuse

In friendship abuse, a common form of abuse shown and glorified in the media are typically when a student in school wants to hang out and be friends with the “cool” kids so sometimes they may go through abuse (being picked on). Even more so emphasized in some real life fraternity/sorority initiation ceremonies. We all want to be liked, so sometimes we put up with being stepped on in order to be accepted.

Of course from an outsider’s point of view, one would ask, “How can you put up with that?” or say “These are not you true friend. True friends don’t hurt you.” Sometimes an abused individual has been so abused so much that they get used to it or don’t even recognize an abusive friendship from a normal one. Some do recognize the hurt and pain, yet want so bad to continue to be friends with these people, that they end up sticking through with the friendships anyways.

Abuse in Family

Same thing with family sometimes and wanting to be accepted by family members. Sometimes the situation gets really complicated and it becomes a case of imprisonment, but not necessarily physical imprisonment– a mental imprisonment. The abused feels like they have no where else to go, as they have a roof over them with their family and may not have the financial resources to get their own place. So they may also believe they cannot survive on their own without them or feel too worthless to be able to, so they are “trapped” in their situation.

The abused continue to endure being taunted, put down, bullied or threatened by their own family member(s) for whatever reason. Sometimes they may try to run away, call the cops, or sadly attempt suicide as their “only” way out.

Abusive Relationships

Relationships are also very complex because it also involves a lot with emotion and the abused person usually really cares about, loves the abuser, fearing that no one else would love them like that or fearing for their lives. It’s hard to imagine sometimes staying in such situation, but you can only understand the extent of this situation if you were in a similar situation, or could imaging what it’s like if you hypothetically placed yourself in their shoes.

So how does an abuser have such a strong hold on their victims? The abuser of course is not going to win someone over by initially treating someone badly. They manipulate their vicim’s trust and in relationships, usually act charming, treat the person like they are everything and THEN slowly break their victim down by picking on little things, like “You’re stupid, you gained some weight and no one else is going to love you like I do.” The victim then slowly embeds in these ideas in their head (because they trust and value the abuser’s opinion); their self worth goes downhill to the point, where sometimes they do believe that no one else would love them.

In cases where they really want to get out of the situation, the abuser may threaten them using their family or their own kids as bait. “If you leave you’ll never see your kids again.”

Sometimes the abuse is more passive aggressive, like the guilt trip. “Oh I’m a loser and I have no friends, all I have is you,” whether they really feel that way or not. I was in such situations a few times, not a relationship, but was manipulated with guilt trips. When i was younger, 1st semester, freshmen year in college, a guy was interested in me, which I didn’t know at the time, and I felt really bad for him so I continued being friends with him, thinking maybe he just needs a friend to feel better. I thought he was someone who I could trust since he was in the same organization as me and a few years older. But he filled up on lies and placed the guilt trip on me and it worked. He said that his siblings beat him up, his family doesn’t love him, and that he has no friends (I found out later to not be true), and would ask to hang out with him . He started memorizing my schedule and stalking me on campus, showing up places I went to. At one point I was afraid for my safety and started not replying to his messages. He got angry, confronted me, and later attacked me just to hurt me a little physically and then left me alone after that. It’s been over 9 years since I initially met him and he recently tried friend requesting me on Facebook the other day. As soon as I saw the request I shuttered. It still haunts me till this day, but I know if I was ever confronted again by him, I would do what I need to do to defend myself.


I try to convince people I care about to get out of the situation but when other people try to intervene, it gets very sticky. A friend told me that a tactic her ex boyfriend used was to saying “Oh your family and friends just doesn’t want us to be happy and doesn’t care about you or how you feel, so they’re trying to break us up.” It makes the victim want to be rebellious and be with the abuser even more.

That happened in situation I was trying to get a different friend out of for a few years. I knew her to be strong, independent and not let anyone step on her, but when it came to love, it can make anyone vulnerable. She trusted and loved him. It took a few years for my friend to realize what he was doing but felt trapped with no job, and didn’t feel safe in a shelter. Every step that I suggested that could have bettered her situation, she felt would make it worse. I was angry at the guy, frustrated and sad. What was worse, was the law failed to protect her and instead went against her because the authorities didn’t believe anything she was saying and instead believed the charmer.

I don’t know if I handled the situation in the best way, I’m sure there were times I was not helping the situation and I regret that. Also intervening and telling her to leave the dude, just made her distrust me at one point. I was also young and didn’t know the best way to handle such situation, sometimes I still don’t. Victims tend to believe every possible solution won’t work because they are convinced they are trapped and will come up with every reason why it won’t work.

At one point, there were other things going in my life that I really needed to take care of so the hardest and most painful thing was letting go, and telling her that I couldn’t help her anymore, but could be there to listen. Victims would need to decide and want to help themselves, no one can force them to get help.

Victims also tend to blame themselves thinking that it’s their fault, that they did something to upset and invoke such abuse, or that they deserve such treatment (“punishment”) for their actions. In some occasions, they may end up blaming others for being abused, when the abuser is really the one responsible for his/her own actions. For example, someone tries to intervene, the abuser may blame the victim for the confrontation and punish them; then the victim may blame the person who tried to intervene for making things worse for them.

Culture Clash

Being Asian, and not exactly living through the eyes of American culture. I’ve witnessed culture clash, which is very complex because what isn’t considered “abusive” in different cultures, is considered abusive in American culture. Not to take sides or say who’s right or who’s wrong, but I do agree with a lot of what defines abuse in American terms and the psychology behind it, is really abuse.

I’m not sure what other countries teach in the school system, or if they cover domestic violence, psychology, depression, and abuse, but I’ve witnessed 1st hand abuse. When I was a child, I’ve seen a husband throwing heavy objects at a wife publicly at a party, and screaming at her. Obviously that is abuse. What’s worse is that other people, including women say that the wife deserved it.. That supposedly the wife said something to upset the husband and shouldn’t disrespect him that way. I never forgot the image of her on the floor helpless, crying, screaming. This type of violence seemed to be “normal” in marriages.

As for children, I don’t feel that spanking (which is common in many cultures), is considered abuse, unless it crosses the line like beating a child to a pulp. But there are cases when family members who mean well and want “the best” for their children, do not realize some of their behavior is abusive.

One of the typical things I see common universally is putting a lot of pressure on children. Insulting their worth, intelligence, yelled at, etc, so they work harder and get their approval. Sometimes it’s constantly getting into their face constantly, ordering them (and forcing them) to do things in order to succeed.

Problem is, sometimes children end up believing they ARE worthless and never amount to anything, give up, and may resort to self destructive things. I don’t know the stats, but heard that’s why there’s a high suicide rate in some countries. Sometimes the pressure’s so unbearable, they have a mental break down.

How Do You NOT Go Insane?

It’s a complex situation. I have a lot to say but if I keep typing, I’ll end up writing a novel that may be too much for some to read. I often wonder how people do it.. how they stick through without going insane?? But I believe I understand that some of victims get used to it after awhile and in a way go numb, perhaps drained in the process and become the living dead, zombies. It’s just a survival mode to take every hit like a wall. I think if I continued working at the fast food place and was continuously yelled at, bullied, and intimidated, maybe I would have gotten used to it and go numb if I chose not to fight back. If it was an abusive situation where I’m being constantly scolded by someone I care about instead, it would be harder to not break a nerve.

Going insane would definitely not help a situation, so finding the inner strength is a way to survive and “win.” There were several non-work related situations where I was constantly yelled at and after awhile I felt like I could go insane, couldn’t tolerate it anymore, so I snapped back, though I try not to, because it doesn’t necessarily always help the situation; the abuser may fire back harder and louder, but in some situations it shows that “Hey you can’t step all over me and disrespect me like that”, and makes the other person step back and realize you don’t fear them anymore. Sometimes that scares them because they lose control. Sounds unpredictable to what to do, as sometimes the abuser would be unstable, but the more you know about the person abusing you, the more that you can decide what would work to get out of a situation, defend yourself or make them stop.

How Can You Help Someone?

I’m no psychologist or legal advisor, so don’t take my words with grain of salt as if I am. It’s just something that can be done to protect the ones you care about. If someone claims abused, I have mentioned that victim to call the cops. If there are visible signs of abuse (cuts, bruises, etc). I would call a cop myself to investigate. Of course victims may fear further punishment if they get their significant others in trouble or maybe get angry, but them being angry at you is better if it means saving a life.

Another thing, a friend of mine suggested being supportive instead of defensive and to change the way things are said. For example, instead of “He’s no good for you, break up with him.” say “You know, we care about you. I just think you deserve better.” That is great advice. For my friend it made her think of what kind of person she deserved and how she really wanted to be treated.

I also wouldn’t suggest putting pressures on the victim or giving them the guilt trip like “Listen to what I’m saying, or you’re going to suffer.” That may create the same kinds of feelings that are no different than what the abuser makes the victim feels.. trapped, being ordered around, feeling guilty. Abusers feed on guilt trips. Instead, perhaps a “Please consider my advice. It would resolve this and help you in a better situation that you deserve. I want you to be happy.”

Well that’s all I have to say for now. I may dig further in the future. Please drop your thoughts and comments below. Anything also that can help others is always appreciated.

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