When you’ve repeatedly been hurt by someone and you share it with others in your life do you ever hear things like,

“Well, you probably provoked them” or…

“You can be really sensitive” or…

“Maybe you just took it the wrong way” or…

“I’ve never had a problem with them” or…

“Aren’t you being a bit of a drama queen”? 

These reactions are the opposite of supportive. If it happens often, you need to learn how to protect yourself with boundaries from others who (whether they realize it or not) are contributing to keeping an abusive or dysfunctional system in place.

As a continuation of last week’s episode, I’m laying out some strategies you can use to protect yourself emotionally plus boundary language and scripts to help you better manage the abuse enablers in your life.

Prefer the audio? Listen here.

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the common tricks and justifications abuse enablers use, like blame-shifting, minimizing, guilting, and gaslighting…the list goes on. (If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can do it here.)

There are many reasons why this specific kind of behavior can happen, but the bottom line is, if this is happening with people who have access to your innermost sanctum, you need to learn ways to change how much access to you certain folks have. 

Abuse and dysfunction don’t happen in a vacuum, and enablers are players in these systems. Some might not even realize they are doing it, though that does not excuse their poor behavior. The first step to making a shift in how you manage your relationship dynamics is to identify where and with whom this might be happening. It can happen in any relationship in your life- family, friends, a partner, or even at work.

If you haven’t already done the enabler abuse inventory I shared last week, you can download it here now so you can get more clarity on who the players are. 

Once you know who you are dealing with, you can begin to create proactive boundary success scripts to help you clearly communicate your needs. 

First, think about the best time to talk to this person. Boundary requests are much more effective when they are delivered in a moment that isn’t heated or confrontational. Here is an example of a simple script you can make your own:

“I’d like to make a simple request. I want to share something with you, and I ask that you listen to what I’m sharing without giving me any input. What I really need is a compassionate ear right now. I would really appreciate that”

When you first start using boundary language, it can feel strange-even scary. You might think- can I even say that?? (The answer is YES!)

Like any skill, setting boundaries takes practice, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. As you become more confident in your boundary-setting skills, you’ll find your own unique wording and delivery style.

You have trained the people in your life to treat you a certain way, and now you’re teaching them a different and much better way, based on your true feelings, preferences, limits, and deal-breakers.

Be aware – others in your life may not respect your boundary the first time. We have ingrained behavioral “dances” we perform with people. Expect that you may have to restate your boundary preference or limit multiple times, even with those who are open to changing. 

Let’s say you do get push back and the person you’re trying to set boundaries with says something like:

“I don’t know what’s gotten into you. I don’t know why you’re so sensitive.”

You can say:

“Every time you blame me when we are in conversation, I’m going to point it out because I love you and I don’t want this to come between us. It hurts me when you side with the person who is harming me.”

It’s hard to look at our relationships and feel like someone we love dearly is not being supportive, but by creating these proactive boundary scripts and having these conversations, you are protecting yourself from emotional harm, keeping your personal dignity intact, and honoring yourself. 

Inside this week’s downloadable guide, you’ll learn more scenario-specific boundary language to help you. Remember, boundaries in action are a process and so very worth it. Here’s where you can get your boundary scripts guide. 

It is so very painful when you are on the receiving end of these kinds of abuse-enabling behaviors. Our natural instinct might be to try to change their mind or fight back to convince them our feelings are valid and valuable. 

But what really matters is if YOU think how you feel is valid and valuable. You don’t need to continue to make yourself vulnerable to emotionally unsafe people, no matter who they are. 

Also, you can give yourself permission to go no contact. If the situation is toxic or abusive, you really do have to focus on your own healing, your own mental wellness, and your own safety. If you are in an abusive relationship, I have resources for you here on how to leave an abusive relationship safely. 

You can become empowered to nurture and protect yourself! I hope this series has been helpful to you. Here’s where you can download your managing abuse enablers boundary scripts guide. 

I want to know what your thoughts are, so please, drop me a comment here or connect with me on Instagram @terricole

Thank you for you and as always, take care of you.

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  1. I want to thank you for such a timely piece . I have been dealing with a family member who has been repeatedly demeaning and hurtful in his comments to me and my partner. When I tried to bring this up with our sisters the response was almost word for word in your descriptions of an abuse enabler. I now have the basic understanding of what happened and the tools to correct .

  2. Hi Terri, Normally I would have never considered myself a victim of abuse until a therapist told me I was being verbally& emotionally abused. I was in shock!, no- not me! not the people I love, no way! We have fun together , we laugh all of the time, they love me, I love them!
    This sounds funny, but after that visit with the therapist I went home and looked up what is considered verbal abuse, I honestly was floored….and there it was, all of it!! I said- I'm smart, and strong- how could I let this happen? I felt like a failure…I explained it away, until the last few years, ( gaining on 50 years old and I have a ton of health issues ), I realized I was just recreating patterns with similar people from my childhood…endless a-ha moments!! I've spent the last few years reading books on trauma and discussing trauma with my new therapist. I realize that I am very co-dependent and I was 100 a percent a victim of emotional and verbal abuse my entire life. I married someone who continued that. I love him so much, but I have to get things right for me now. I'm happy to say he is recognizing it and now exploring his own trauma. I'm proud to say that we are both working on repairing the broken parts of our childhood trauma. I've made excuses for everyone, myself included. I now see how desperately boundaries are needed in my life, and how it effects me when I ignore that and put everyone else 1st… Working to dismantle the last 50 years is the hardest thing I've ever done! I want you to know I found you somewhat recently and you are becoming such an important part of my journey! I relate to everything you say on your podcasts especially when you mentioned in the enablers/ abusers podcast that people such as myself, may not really know how to respond to these manipulative people with the right responses to stand up for myself, while staying calm and maintaining boundaries. This does NOT come naturally for meat all!. I honestly just go blank. This script helps so much. Thank you for your words and the guide!!! I just ordered Boundary Boss, and excited to reading it. Thanks for all of the wonderful work you do, you are helping so many of us!

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