Looking back, I realize I was starving for some positive attention. So, when this guy who I had never seen before crashed my party and began telling me how beautiful I was and how much he wanted to take me on a date, I was flattered. You see, at best I saw myself as average. As a result of years of sexual molestation during childhood into my teens, my self esteem had pretty much been annihilated. Well, let me tell you where flattery will get you.
Within a couple of weeks we were dating, and inside of two months, I was being kept on a tight leash. He’d even snap at his friends, “What are you looking at? Get your eyes off my woman!” I was still flattered that he was so jealous and didn’t want any other guys looking at me. I thought I was special—He thought I was his property. He told me I was pretty—I believed he meant it. He was totally taken aback by the fact I was a virgin, as well. Later, he let me know he considered that a trophy, and his intentions were to have it on his shelf some day, even if it meant he had to marry me to get it. And I was still flattered.
Yeah—convoluted, huh? Well, now I recognize his flattery was not admiration or consideration. Flattery is empty, insincere, and it is not love. Flattery is used to get something you want from another person. The tight leash was possessiveness, and a possessive personality cannot love properly. The jealousy that motivated him to threaten even his own friends was not protectiveness. Rather, it was a building block to establish power over me through false compliments, distrust and possessiveness.
Throw in the consistent alcohol abuse, and it made for a relationship that was doomed from the very moment we met. I had low self esteem and he sensed it. He fed off it. He cultivated it, and eventually had me in a place of self-loathing. I gained weight, let myself go and really couldn’t find a single reason why I should care enough to “clean up.” After all, nobody was allowed to look at or compliment me, so why bother? I could not fathom doing such a thing for myself. It went so far as to put me in a mindset of thinking if I could just get fat enough and ugly enough, he would not want me anymore, and I could get out of the abuse and misery. THEN I’d “clean up.” He constantly told me how disgusting he found me, so why did he stay? Because he had all the power and control!
Now, here’s the key: When the come-on lines begin, and you start to feel flattered, take a good hard look at what is really taking place. I would hate for you to move into a place of being overpowered and controlled, losing all semblance of the real you. It can happen all too easily. I know. I was there—for over 16 years.
Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Life Direction & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims. Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her website: orangeblossomwishes.com.
- Is Verbal Abuse a Form of Domestic Violence? (cshennecy.wordpress.com)
- Emotional Abuse and Domestic Violence – Partners in Crime (cshennecy.wordpress.com)
- The Highest Form of Flattery (janalistening.wordpress.com)