In which I reflect on bullying and abusive relationships…(Or, “In Which I try not to sound like an ass…and probably fail…”)

My mother raised me to be fearless, not by her own intention but because I saw her fear for me. I didn’t want her to worry so I showed her there was nothing to be scared of. As an adult, nothing has touched me. No one has hurt me because I. Won’t. Let. Them. I am stubborn and arrogant and I think these are good qualities because being confident in myself (or faking it so well that even I believe it) has kept me safe.

Some people are attracted to weakness. They seek those who will let someone walk all over them, bully them, dominate them, and thank them for it and yes, that’s terrible. I wish people weren’t like that but, ultimately, I think YOU’RE responsible for how you’re treated. If you don’t want to be a victim then stop being weak. Stop thinking you “deserve it” stop bashing yourself for past mistakes, stop falling for their manipulations, just STOP. Stand up for yourself.

I often say “If I don’t like what I write, or don’t think I’m any good, then why would anyone else.” In this case, if you don’t think you’re worth being treated well, then why would anyone else. You need to value yourself before you expect anyone else to, if you don’t love yourself then you’ll never really believe you’re deserving of love and you’ll keep attracting the kind of people who will use you and do everything they can to keep you down. Don’t let them. Just, don’t. People only have power over you if you let them have it.

What about a more physical abuse, you ask? Well that’s a little different, of course, but confidence is key. Those kinds of people are still looking for weakness. If you’re walking down a dark, empty street and you think someone is following you, well what do you do? Instinct is to look around, look behind you, speed up, run. But that shows fear, weakness, and then they know you’re afraid. So, you keep your stride. Keep your head up, shoulders back, and just fake it. If you’re afraid, they won’t know it and they’ll probably think twice about doing anything because you’re still in control, you’re still in the position of power and if they want to take it from you they’re going to have to TAKE it.

I’m speaking from experience, not a lot of experience, but some. I had a boyfriend, once, who tried to keep me from leaving, he turned violent, grabbed me and, yes, I was afraid. He was bigger than me and stronger but I looked him in the eye and quietly told him to take his hands off me before I hurt him. He hesitated, I said “Now.” low and firm, and he did. Suddenly, he was apologetic. He didn’t mean anything by it, he didn’t mean to hurt me, he just didn’t want me to leave.

Then there was a guy, let’s call him a roommate’s boyfriend for simplicity, and he and my friend were fighting, so I went in to see if she needed me, she said yes so I told him to leave. He refused and when we tried to call the police he grabbed the phone and ripped it out of the wall. Then, he came at me so I punched him in the face. He seemed stunned for a moment and when he got mad and moved toward me again I took an aggressive stance and said “Go ahead, you know what Justin will do if you touch me.” I called him out, and he ran away. He and my friend got back together a few days later, her choice to continue dealing with an abusive relationship, so I moved out. (And the rumor is that my punch gave him a black eye and a fractured jaw.)

The point is, when you act from a place of strength and confidence you’ll see that the bully is the one who is lacking and trying to build their self-esteem by tearing you down. Don’t let them. And if you’re a bully, you should learn to love yourself, because, I’m not going to.

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About CLeflar

Crystal Leflar is a blogger book reviewer, previously with Fantasy Magazine now for Hell Notes and Horror Novel Reviews. She’s a Promotion Specialist and slush reader for Nightscape Press and an Acquisitions Editor for Pavor Nocturnus. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies and she has several projects in the works.
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