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Surviving Domestic Abuse: Mental Chess

What if I move my queen here?
When playing mental chess with an abuser, your opponent is constantly watching you to see how you'll react to their shenanigans. Don't give them the satisfaction of eliciting a response from their behavior. Just focus on making your best move.

Good morning, self-advocates. I keep trying my best to update this blog as regularly as I can, but life continues to throw curve balls at me. I guess all I can promise my readers is that I will update whenever I am able to. While I feel fairly knowledgeable on the topic of domestic abuse survival, given my own personal experiences, I think the biggest challenge for me is to try to organize it in a logical sequence that makes the most sense for readers to follow. Perhaps at a later time, I may compile everything together and try to publish my experiences as some sort of self-help book, at which time I can focus on the overall organization of the material.

In any case, I feel like this may be a good starting point for many people that suspect they are in an abusive relationship of some sort. In general, I feel like people tend to overthink whether the relationship they're in is toxic. Honestly, the best advice I can give you is to listen to your gut and/or conscience. While you can certainly educate yourself on warning signs and red flags, I feel like most people are generally capable of knowing when something is "off" with their partner. The moment your spidey senses start tingling, you have to carefully plan your next steps. Best case scenario, your suspicions are off, and you had nothing to worry about at all. Worst case scenario, you decide to give your abuser the benefit of the doubt, and continue to be vulnerable and exploitable. The more information you feed your potential abuser, the more ammunition you're giving them to use against you. If you suspect something is wrong with your partner, do not dismiss that feeling in your gut or ignore your conscience. Proceed with extreme caution. If your worst suspicions are confirmed, you will find yourself having to play a complex intricate sort of mental chess match against your opponent, with the overall goal being to keep their guard down, so you can find your chance to escape. If you're not able to break away right away, keep playing the victim as convincingly as possible. As I may have mentioned before in a previous post, the most dangerous part of any sort of toxic, abusive relationship is when your abuser knows that you know. These individuals are not as stupid or unaware as they claim to be, and the moment you call them out on their bullshit, and convince them there's nothing they can do to change your mind about them, you'll become targeted for a different reason --- you are a target that needs to be silenced. This is again, when these types of situations can quickly become a matter of life and death. Your best chance of survival is to deceive the deceiver. Bide your time as much as necessary to clear a path for your escape.

Mutually assured destruction?
When dealing with a toxic personality, you don't necessarily want to stoop down to their level. Instead, think of yourself as a spy conducting counter-espionage against your abuser. Take evasive maneuvers as covertly as possible, so they don't suspect you.

What do I mean by all of this? Stop feeding your abuser information. Be as shallow and invulnerable as possible. If your abuser asks about your day, go for the generic "it was fine" response, without going into detail. Even if you had the worst day ever, don't volunteer any unnecessary information or details that your foe can use against you. Keep your responses as generic, vague and/or nondescript as possible, so that your abuser feels that you're still engaging with them, while at the same time, you're not providing them with any of the ammunition they're seeking to use against you. If possible, be strictly transactional with your conversations. No bullshit. Quick, straight, and to the point. If possible, keep your emotions in check as well. Your abuser will suspect something is wrong if you're at the brink of tears, even if you tell them everything is fine, and they're going to continue to poke, prod, and otherwise invade your personal space, until they can extract that bit of information out of you. If you suspect you're in an abusive relationship, assume that every conversation with your alleged abuser is an interrogation with ulterior motives moving forward. Unfortunately, unlike with the police, you can't refuse to speak to your abuser until you have a lawyer present. As such, you will have to make sure you're as mentally prepared as possible to deal with the possibility that they're trying to push your buttons or extract information from you. Do not give them this satisfaction! Keep that poker face. Keep stonewalling them. Keep your emotions in check, and don't volunteer anything that can leave you open and vulnerable to your abuser. Choose your words wisely, if you need to use any words at all. Just like your abuser is pretending and acting like they love and care about you, you have to pretend and act like they continue to have control over you, so they don't suspect that you're onto them, and you're planning an escape.

Whatever you do, you must absolutely never attempt to confront your abuser on any of their underhanded tactics. Don't call them out on their gaslighting or blameshifting or any of the other bullshit they're flinging at you. Simply pretend that you're falling for this bullshit, and keep things moving. From the abuser's point of view, "if it isn't broke, don't fix it." They will not revise any of their abusive tactics against you, if they have no reason to believe that their tricks aren't working. Keep playing the game right back at them. Just as they are lying to you, you have to lie right back at them. Shatter their own perception of reality by acting as deceptively as they've been acting to you. Whatever you do, keep that Poker Face. Don't let them think for a second you're bullshitting them, or else they may try to punish you for your insolence. As degrading and humiliating as it is, the best thing to do until you can escape is to continue playing the victim. Give your abuser their jollies, and leave them naïve and unassuming of your real plans. With a little luck, you will be able to blindside them with your escape when they least expect it, wondering how the hell you managed to slip away from their fingers so easily. This is what you want. Do not attempt to reconcile. Do not give your abuser the benefit of the doubt. Stop lying to yourself. Plan your escape, and do so under the cover of darkness and deception. Trust me, if you really are dealing with a narcissist or a psychopath, they're already doing the same thing to you. You shouldn't feel any guilt or shame for deceiving a soulless monster without a conscience. Even though the creature looks human, it's anything but.

In closing, you might think that this post is simply a rant that is saying the same thing over and over again, but I cannot emphasize enough that you need to be in the right mindset when dealing with a toxic personality. If you allow yourself to let them keep leading you on, they're going to take you deeper and further until unfortunately, it may be too late for you. Trust your instincts. Know your enemy. Proceed with extreme caution. And with that, I leave you until the next post. Stay strong.

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