As abuse victims and as women, we frequently let ourselves get talked into things. A pitch is made for our sympathy, and – without much resistance, without even voicing our concerns – we cave in.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to be an angel of mercy. As Christians, we are encouraged to be kind and tenderhearted (Eph. 4: 32).
This does not, however, require that we allow ourselves to be deceived and exploited by every con-man, hustler, cheat, and user who comes along. Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say on the subject: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3: 10). Short and to the point.
Unfortunately, abuse victims are particularly prone to discounting their own opinions. We have been “trained” by the experience of abuse to ignore that queasy feeling in the pit of our stomachs.
And we long desperately to be loved. That often translates into an overwhelming desire to please others. Afraid of rejection, we hesitate to impose limits or make demands. So we set reason and instinct aside.
Say, your boyfriend wants his brother to move in temporarily, with the two of you. Ask yourself whether this exchange doesn’t sound familiar.
- Just for awhile, your boyfriend pleads.
Never mind that his brother casually overstayed a prior visit. Never mind that his brother is unemployed and will be unable to contribute to expenses, while you are juggling two jobs.
Never mind that his brother is the father of three children by two different women, none of whom he supports. Never mind that one of his “baby mamas” got so fed-up she threw him out, herself .
- His brother is turning over a new leaf, your boyfriend swears.
Never mind that there is no solid evidence of this. Never mind that you do not know his brother’s friends, associates, or arrest record . Never mind that the brother is unlikely ever to change his lifestyle (or drug habit).
- His brother is looking for work, and has a couple of interviews set up already.
Never mind that his brother is not known for truthfulness. Never mind that he has no skills or education, and has never held onto a job longer than a few months.
- His brother can sleep in the spare room. He won’t be any trouble at all, your boyfriend asserts.
Never mind that his brother is a slob, who refuses to pick up after himself. Never mind that the thought of spending any time alone with him in the apartment makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Never mind that you will have no control over the people he brings into the apartment, when you are not there.
- His brother had a rough childhood.
Never mind that you did, too. Never mind that you manage to support yourself and behave responsibly, despite that.
- His brother has no other options. Have a heart, your boyfriend urges.
Never mind that his brother could apply for public assistance; stay with friends (assuming he has any); stay with his parents; or actually make the effort to locate a job near his children.
Still, contrary to your better judgment, you acquiesce.
Bad Coping Strategy
Unfortunately, closing our eyes and hoping for the best is not a good coping strategy. The consequences of decisions made in this way can range from irritating to deadly. And relying on the judgment of a partner who – like the boyfriend in this example – also, endured a traumatic childhood makes us as vulnerable as s/he is.
We have the choice of moving our relationships either in the direction of sanity or dysfunction. That may mean ending some of them.
Never mind. People like your boyfriend’s brother will always find a mark to sponge off. It just doesn’t have to be you.
 The term “baby mama” is not used here to disparage single mothers. It is meant rather to emphasize their diminished status, once a partner has moved on. Both women and children deserve better.
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