In my last relationship, I was involved with an abusive man who did drugs and was generally crazy. Recently I had a co-worker, for no reason, talk to me in such an angry, vicious way that it triggered the old feelings of abuse. How do I keep this from happening again?
The triggering of old emotional wounds can set you on a downward spiral. You don’t mention how long ago the abuse was, but judging by your reaction, I would say that you were deeply affected by this mistreatment. I’m truly sorry this had to happen to you! Moving beyond abuse can take years, or for some, a lifetime…
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THIS WEEKEND: To Stay Or Leave Abusive Relationship. Surviving Domestic Violence. He Turned Violent After Said “I Do”. Low Self Esteem Can Allow For Abuse.
That said, there are things you can do to minimize those sad, angry, unwanted hurtful feelings when someone mistreats you. First, ask around about this co-worker. I’d place money on the fact that this person has a habit of treating others just like you were treated. Unless you frequently get this type of response from co-workers, know that the problem is not yours~they are the ones with the problem!
Other things you can do are build-up your self-esteem by involving yourself with activities, experiences and friends that you find affirming. Do an online search for information on recovering from abuse and building self-esteem. Find the things that make the most sense to your recovery and personal growth, and make them a routine part of your self-care.
Regarding the co-worker, make a point of never being alone with them. Make sure all your interactions with them have a witness. And, most importantly, document each and every time you are treated this way. Make a written record of the date, time, and your account of what occurred, and name any witnesses that may have seen or heard the abusive interaction. Check the laws in your state. If it’s legal, you can record your interactions on your cell phone without having to tell the co-worker you are recording your interactions. You will need all of this documentation if you decide to go up the chain to management with a complaint on this person.
Finally, if you find that things you can do on your own don’t give you the relief you want, schedule an appointment with a licensed counselor. Don’t give up on making this better for yourself…my heart goes out to you.
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• How can you minimize your interactions with this co-worker?
• What other emotional landmines and triggers have you fallen into?
• What strategies for coping have brought you relief when you’ve triggered in the past?
• What new plan for coping, as gleaned from your research, will you use to protect yourself from harm?