8 Forms of Abuse that Fuel a Rejection Mindset

Quite often our most difficult wrestling matches with a rejection mindset can lead a trail back to abusive experiences in our life. Yet many who hear the word “abuse,” limit that definition to only a few intense areas. When in reality, abuse can manifest in many ways that people are not aware of.

Abuse can arrive in many forms. It can be subtle just as much as it can be loud and harsh.

All forms of abuse involve the misuse of relationship, and can leave lasting marks on the hearts of those impacted.

We are in a day where abusive actions are being exposed, more people are becoming aware of past events in their life that were abusive. Historically, society too often lived with a motto of “just get over it” or “that wasn’t a big deal” when it came to abusive experiences. That needs to change, because many people are trying to “get over” experiences that were downright abusive and even traumatic. The effects are following them, not only do they not even recognize it but they don’t know how to make sense of it all.

To help bring clarity, there are many forms of abuse, but they can involve:

  • Misuse of power, authority or influence.
  • A corrupt practice.
  • Damaging language that vilifies someone.
  • Unsafe interactions.
  • Spiritual, emotional and psychological damage.

Abuse can be a one-time event. but it can also be perpetual, meaning it does not end or change, and it occurs repeatedly. Quite often there can be abusive environments that many live in, producing continual damage to a person’s spiritual and emotional state.

Here are eight forms of abuse:

1. Physical abuse

Becoming a victim of someone else’s rage will not only produce physical pain and scars, but also deep emotional pain. Those raised in physically abusive environments are often left thinking this terror is normal and do not know have healthy references for living in healthy, loving relationships.

Whenever there is physical abuse, rejection takes root. The very physical act of harming someone elicits signals of rejecting someone’s worth and value. Physical abuse can prevent a person from being able to give and receive love safely.

2. Verbal Abuse

Through harsh words, we can become more open to rejection. How many of you remember the painful words spoken by someone years ago, yet the echo of it still repeats today.

Rejection utilizes many of those unloving words, as a way to reinforce that we are not loved, we have no value or that we will never be good enough to be accepted.

Words spoken to us have the power to cut deep into our innermost being. I remember certain moments where harsh words were said to me that remained in my head years later.

3. Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse has twisted ways that it disguises itself. It can often be hard for a person to even detect that it is happening or how it has affected them.

The scars that emotional abuse leaves are often invisible.

When we have been under emotional abuse, we can sometimes get so used to it, not realizing there is a better way to live. The emotional abuse can strip us of our sense of personal love and value, where we cannot see the better option that is available.

Rejection uses the emotionally abusive environments to keep a person in a world of confusion, double-mindedness and guilt.

4. Sexual Abuse

In helping many people over the decades, it has been eye opening, at the large percentage in our society that have experienced sexual abuse of some form. This type of behavior was often hidden under the rug or shoved in the closet.

Family members who experienced sexual abuse were not allowed to even speak about it. In addition, when the incident was brought into the light, family members would often dismiss the issue, accuse the victim of lying or exaggerating. Children were shamed and the subject was buried. But that didn’t make the pain go away.

The person not only has rejection battles from the abuse, but also the rejection that came out of unsafe discussions when crying out for help. 

5. Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse can lead people into deep confusion, isolation and despair. Atmospheres that are supposed to be safe can often become toxic environments that produce deep wounds which disorient a person’s sense of who God is and what church is supposed to be like.

Rejection, coming from a spiritually abusive situation, can rock a person’s sense of what is true and even how to believe. Their faith gets struck to the core. Meanwhile, they can lose a sense of who they are and what it means to connect to God.

In my course on Healing from Spiritual Abuse, I talk about spiritual abuse being: when we misuse someone for our own benefit or protection OR we do nothing to protect someone when we have the ability to do so. Spiritual abuse often involves the misuse of our influence, our words and our relational capacity.

6. An Intense Performance-Pressured Environment

Many would be surprised that this would be on the list. But I have found a highly performance driven environment to be incredibly deadly on someone’s heart and future. When you raise someone in an environment where love, identity and validation are centered around performance, you have hijacked the person’s emotional compass. It is a top way that rejection keeps us in bondage–lure us to evaluate ourselves on how we are performing.

Most have not been taught to think of performance driven environments as abusive, yet they are. This is evident in homes where children are raised to excel and achieve to the detriment of love and acceptance. Their sense of identity became based on how well they did in school, athletics or extra-curricular activities. The insecurity of the parent drove them to put an undo pressure on the child, training them to believe that love comes when you excel and achieve. They fail to learn the value of being accepted for who they are.

Most people who come to me for help evaluate their worth on what they do and how well they do it, their acceptance depends on it. Rejection keeps this counterfeit mentality going by using drivenness and striving as a way of life.

Peace is lacking and energy becomes easily drained. Despite this, everyone is on the go, living as slaves to the deadlines and pressures of life. Those trained in performance end up being victims to others and to their impossible standards within.

7. Passivity

It can be incredibly painful when something does something abusive to you.

But what about when you are in deep pain and someone who could do something, does nothing at all?

That’s the abuse of passivity, a subject I rarely hear talked about.

When we are going through something deeply painful, we naturally look to those around us in relationship. We need love shown in words, wisdom or encouragement. The problem is, many end up standing by, while saying and doing nothing! This is excruciating and leaves deep heart scars that we can have a hard time even recognizing. 

Passivity, can be some of the worst forms of abuse. To define passivity in this context is when someone does nothing, when they should have and could have done something to prevent damage or to bring healing.

Take a moment to think about it. Aren’t we are appalled when we hear stories where someone was hurt on the sidewalk and people walked by without lending a hand? What is worse, bringing about direct abuse, or someone doing nothing to help and heal a person, especially when they have the power and responsibility to do so?

James tell us, If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. (James 4:17)

Everyday there are children who are being emotionally abandoned by fathers who are unavailable in the home. There are mothers who can step in and be a healing vessel to her child’s situation, but are too preoccupied to even see what is going on. Pastors and leaders can stand in for those they are responsible for and be a healing vessel. But too often, they are too busy in their own world.

Sadly, too often I have stood in the presence of people of influence who knew about the pain I experienced, yet did nothing to add a healing salve or acknowledgement. The initial pain was intense enough. Having someone ignore what is happening to you is like grabbing a raw nerve and twisting it.

8. Manipulation and Control

Leaders with insecurity will respond to situations by trying to maintain a sense of control. This can easily get out of hand and can deeply damage people. In order to maintain a dysfunctional sense of control, manipulation has to be used, in order to orchestrate situations into their favor.

As a result, those who have been under a controlling and manipulating environment, have a lot of struggles with double mindedness and guilt. They struggle to know what is truth and how to walk in clear, single minded living.

When you have lived under control and manipulation, someone else thinks for you. So when it comes to thinking for yourself and figuring out what it is that you want, the abusive experiences of the past need to be healed.

The Damage of Abuse

In the aftermath, abuse of any kind leaves us with some areas that are important to bring to God. It takes time, but also helpful tools are needed to process healing. Here are some key areas that need to be addressed:

  1. Rejection: abuse distorts your sense of love, identity and relationship security. It links in with fear to keep you living in certain survival modes.
  2. Shame: the painful feelings of humiliation and distress that replay over the experiences. Whenever things go wrong, you are always forced to think that its because something is wrong with you.
  3. Fear: your sense of safety and peace gets threatened
  4. Guilt: the thoughts that you did something wrong or that you need to do something to fix things, you easily blame yourself and beat yourself up.
  5. Self-hatred: a distorted view of how you see yourself, an inability to feel worth or acceptable of true love.

The good news is that abusive experiences can be healed. The first step often involves recognizing how it effected you and allowing yourself to process through the healing journey.

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