Abuse convinces us that we are powerless to help ourselves and, at the same time, leads us to believe we have more power over others than we really do. Ironic, isn’t it. Most abuse victims and survivors struggle with assuming full responsibility for other people’s actions. The truth is that we are not that powerful.
We cannot make others do anything. Ask any parent of teens. They can influence by giving loving encouragements and appropriate consequences. But they cannot guarantee that their child will not buy cigarettes.
Each person operates within their own free will (consciously or unconsciously). It is not our sole responsibility when a relationship succeeds or fails—relationship implies two people are involved. It is not within our power to dictate the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and actions of anyone besides ourselves. We do not make other people abuse us. What we wore or thought or said on a particular day did not turn a non-abusive person into a sex-offender, batterer, or incest perpetrator.
Repeat to yourself, “I cannot control an abusive person. I can make better choices for myself.” You have the power to decide many things that could change your future, including who to share your thoughts with, when to walk away from verbal junk, where to live and with whom, whether to cover for an abusers lies, when to seek help, etc.
When we focus on trying to control other people’s choices we waste our power. To truly experience life-changing impact we must consciously direct our own choice-making. We can help ourselves and influence others—when we are courageous enough to make decisions about what we will and will not do.