Last night, I went to my first support group meeting in over a month. The group is run by my local domestic violence shelter.
No matter what topic we discuss or who shows up, I always leave feeling stronger than when I arrived. Sitting among a group of women who have also experienced the horror of an abusive partner somehow normalizes me. In group I feel free to admit my weaknesses in order to learn how to improve that area of my behavior/thinking.
Last night we discussed communication issues. During the discussion and handouts I had a moment of disconnect. Nothing in the literature was helpful for my understanding of or future encounters with passive-aggressive communication.
Saying that Hyde was the king of stonewalling is putting it mildly. You could actually watch that man, before your very eyes, tune you out and shut you down.
At one point, I raised my hand during group and admitted I was having trouble connecting with the material we’d received as handouts. While communication was the biggest issue with Hyde, it wasn’t arguing or yelling causing the problem–it was his complete refusal to engage in any sort of discussion about matters of substance or even make eye contact. He caused me feel to feel invisible.
The group leader shined a light on the issue. She said that because Hyde was well-aware of my ability to navigate overt verbal abuse, having told him I’d grown up with it, he targeted me where I’d never been tested…covert passive-aggressive abuse. That made a lot of sense. I had never been stonewalled before Hyde. Being the recipient of total and utter rejection of anything you say is dehumanizing. It threw me into complete confusion and made me vulnerable to Hyde’s manipulation.
Have you experienced stonewalling? What tactics did you use against it?
Disclosure: When evaluating your relationship for abuse, it is important to look at the overall trends of the relationship. If there is no overt abusive behavior this is especially important. A pervading sense of wrongness, cyclical arguments, stonewalling, and withholding information/access are all indications that the balance of power is tilted and abuse may be occurring. I am not a professional in this field, I am sharing my experiences in the hope that it may provide a glimpse of the truth from within the fog. Like me, you may not realize that abuse can be a covert phenomenon. Abuse is not gender-defined–both men and women can be abusers.
If you suspect you are being abused, please contact your local domestic abuse shelter. If someone you know is being abused, please do not make accusations in front of the abuser–it could cause the abuse to escalate.
This is a public forum. Use caution when commenting.