Women often carry the heavy burden of being the peacemaker in the home – which is an impossible task when the chaos of abuse is an ever-present reality.
Anne is on the podcast sharing some simple strategies that victims can use to achieve a level of respite from emotional and psychological abuse. Tune in and ready the full transcript below for more.
Agree Quickly – It’s Strategic
If you’re in a situation where emotional and psychological abuse is imminent, rather than engage with the abuser, you can quickly and passively agree (if it’s safe to do so). Anne shares an example on the podcast:
“You can be a peacemaker and you can be safe with the strategy of agreement. So here are some examples. Let’s say your husband says something like, ‘Well, you don’t respect me and you never listen to me.’ Rather than diving into an argument or pulling out all the times where you did listen to him and how you do respect him, because you always ask his opinion before you spend more than $50 and all the reasons why you are a good person, you can say, ‘oh, that’s interesting; I haven’t thought of that.‘”
How to Agree with the Abuser 101
Best practice is to appear disinterested and apathetic. The abuser wants to create chaos. We want you to create distance between yourself and the abuse so that you can create safety for yourself. Here are some phrases (along with a disinterested, apathetic impression) to use when you’re “agreeing quickly” with the abuser:
- Huh, that’s interesting. I’ll look into it.
- I hadn’t really given that much thought – thanks.
- That may be true.
- Fair enough.
- Very interesting. I appreciate your thought.
- I will definitely give that more thought.
- That may be valid.
- All opinions are generally worth consideration.
- I will consider that.
- Yeah, you may be right.
Apathetic Agreement Quashes Chaotic Arguments
Your apathetic, disinterested “agreement” is a great way to quash his attempts at arguing with you.
The word salad, gaslighting, intimidation, and other abusive tactics that come up when abusers “argue” with victims can be extremely damaging. A quick, apathetic agreement is a great way to “douse the fire” and create an opportunity for you to get a safe distance from the abuser.
“I’m not mad or upset; there’s no fight. They love a fight, and they also love it when you do what they want. So they’re trying to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. But if you’re not going to do that, then they will enjoy the chaos of an argument.”
Anne Blythe, founder of BTR.ORG
BTR.ORG Is Here For You
You don’t have to do this alone. Consider attending a BTR.ORG Group Session today.
Welcome to BTR.ORG. This is Anne. It’s just me again today. It’s just like a bunch of just I and me. Why am I talking about myself in the third person? That’s crazy.
Okay, so there is a scripture that I love and it is in Matthew five. It’s part of the Sermon on the Mount. It’s Matthew 5:25, and Jesus shares with us, “Agree with thine adversary quickly while thou are in the way with him, less than any time the adversary deliver the judge and the judge deliver the to the officer, and thou shall be cast into prison.” Okay, so let’s talk about that in terms of our day today.
So this agree with adversary quickly is a strategic way of dealing with someone who wants to hurt you. In this scripture, this is someone who they want to imprison you. When it comes to abusers, they want to oppress you. They’re going to say things to you to manipulate you. So I gave one example before, which was I was at a singles event and there was a man who wanted me to engage with him. He wanted me to flirt with him and stuff, and I kind of wasn’t into it. Well, I wasn’t kind of not into it. I wasn’t into it at all. He was 30 years older than me, so no, I’m not going to be flirting with you. He said, “Man, you really push men away. Men aren’t going to like that.” And I agreed with my adversary quickly in that moment. I said, “Oh, great…
Agree with your adversary quickly – it’s strategic.
Okay, sounds good. Awesome.” Instead of being like, “Well, wait, no, I don’t want to push men away.” I decided, Oh, I’ll just agree with him. And he was shocked, right? He didn’t know what to do and he went away, and that was great. That’s what I wanted.
Think about strategic ways that you can use this with your abuser. He’s going to say things like, “Well, you don’t care”, or “You don’t love me”, or “You won’t have sex with me”, “You won’t meet my needs”, “You don’t respect me.” That one’s a classic abuser tactic to say, “You don’t respect me.” Rather than try to prove that you respect them or try to solve the problem, a really great strategic way that Christ introduced is to agree with thine adversary quickly.
“An apathetic, disinterested stance”
Also in the parables, he talks about a couple of other strategic things that can be used together. So “Blessed are the peacemakers…”, for example, “…for they shall be called the children of God.” Now, it’s impossible to have peace with someone who’s trying to oppress you and trying to distress you. They are going to cause problems no matter what. So the strategic way of agreeing with them quickly and being a peacemaker is to practice sort of an apathetic, disinterested sort of stance toward them. So that guy who was like, “You’re going to push men away”, and I was like, “Oh, great. Okay, sounds good.” Nothing happens. He doesn’t get what he wants out of that. I’m also not mad or upset. There’s no fight. So they love a fight, and they also love it when you do what they want, so they’re trying to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. Or if you’re not going to do that, then they will enjoy the chaos of an argument.
Either one of those will do. So I think Christ is trying to say here, you can be a peacemaker and you can be safe with the strategy of agreement. So here are some examples. Let’s say your husband says something like, “Well, you don’t respect me”, and “You never listen to me.” Rather than diving into an argument or pulling out all the times where you did listen to him and how you do respect him because you always ask his opinion before you spend more than $50, and all the reasons why you are a good person. Rather than say that when he says, “You don’t respect me, you don’t listen to me”, you can say,
Being a peacemaker in the context of abuse
“Oh, that’s interesting. I haven’t thought of that. Well, I’ve got to go do this other thing”: an apathetic agreement. “Yeah, I need to think about that more…” and then a distracted sort of, …”I’m busy doing something else. Can we talk about this later?” And you’d never have to bring it up again.
That is what being a peacemaker in this context would be a strategic way of separating yourself from that type of emotional and psychological abuse because they want that chaos. They want to drum that up.
Here would be another example: using your values against you. So “If you really cared about our family”, or “If you really cared about this, then you would do this”. And now you could say, “Oh, that’s really something for me to think about. I’m going to go wash the car. I’ll be back in about 15 minutes. Can I pick anything up for you at the store?”
“This is putting on a fireproof suit”
Something strategic like that. This is like putting on a fireproof suit. If they continue to be emotionally and psychologically abusive, you can’t live with a fireproof suit on all the time, and firefighters don’t do that. It would be absolutely claustrophobic. There’s no way you’re going to be able… well, you could, I guess. And if you feel like that would be the safest option, then you can make that choice. I prefer to not have to wear a fireproof suit all the time. And so as you’re practicing this strategic sort of apathetic agreement to be a “peacemaker” (but it’s really for your safety; it’s not to benefit him whatsoever), you don’t have to do what he says or agree with him in terms of actual agreement. You can just say, “Oh, huh, I need to think about that.” But it can give you a little bit of space to determine what level of safety you actually have, and then you can continue to evolve and try again and get more space if you need to. Agreeing with them outright isn’t that bad either. I mean, if they say, “You don’t respect me”, you could be like, “Oh, man, I hadn’t thought about that. But now that you bring it up, that might be true. Yeah, that’s a good point.”
“Make sure you make emotional and psychological safety the top priorities”
You agree with them quickly, but then you do need to move away; some type of separation. Because they’re not just going to be like, “Oh, okay, think about it.” That’s not going to shut it down. The movement away from it is what is going to help bring the safety. So remember that when you’re experimenting with this strategic way of communicating with an abusive person.
So that is just a really quick tip. It’s a super short episode this week. I thought maybe something that was short and sweet would help you. Let me know what you think in the comments. Let me know what your thoughts are. If you experiment with it, let me know. Just make sure you make emotional and psychological safety the top priority. And until next week, stay safe out there.