Get immediate relief from abuse by grey rocking and making fake buttons

Toxic people have disturbing emotional needs that cause them to intentionally hurt others.  There are two main reasons why toxic people hurt others:

  1. Narcissism.  Narcissists are people who are desperate for others to see them in a good light.  They need others to constantly validate them with adoration, adulation, and admiration.  If they do not get it, they will devalue others.  If they can’t be seen as a giant, they will try to turn everybody else into midgets.

  2. Control.  Sociopaths and psychopaths desperately need to hurt and control others to feel safe.  They sabotage others and try to make them miserable so that they don’t feel powerless.

(Note that some abusers are both narcissistic and controlling.)

If you stop supplying your abuser with validation, they will stop seeing you as their go-to source of emotional supply.  You can take away their reasons for abusing you.

One simple trick is to bore your abuser away.  This is referred to as the grey rock technique because you become as dull and uninteresting as a grey rock.  Make your conversations less interesting.

  • Talk without any emotion that would cause drama.  Avoid sarcasm, anger, and frustration.  Don’t be combative.  Being upbeat, polite, or showing little emotion are all fine.

  • If they send you long messages or texts, reply with a much shorter message.

  • Don’t show that you are hurt by your abuser because it will give them positive reinforcement and show them what buttons to push.

  • Don’t trigger your abuser.  Narcissists hate to be humiliated, devalued, criticized, have their flaws exposed, or made to feel like they are lesser than others.  Sociopaths hate feeling like they don’t control you, e.g. you are way too happy and independent.

  • Stick to light conversation topics like the weather, sports, news, etc.

A similar but slightly different approach is to keep conversations light and fluffy while avoiding drama.  This is about giving off the impression of holding a conversation without actually having a conversation with real substance to it.

  1. Do not disclose any personal information.  This will give them ammo to use against you later.  Or, it will give them an opportunity to invalidate your feelings and needs.

  2. Don’t get involved in drama.  If they are trying to get a reaction from you, then don’t give them a reaction.  If they are trying to pry information or a conversation out of you, provide non-answers and neutral answers:

    • I have no idea about that.

    • I don’t know the answer right now.  Maybe later.

    • Lemme think about it.

    • That’s interesting.

    • I don’t know what to tell you.

    • I’m sure you’ll figure it out.

    • I won’t be getting involved in this.  (If they ask why, give a non-reason such as “because I already know I won’t be getting involved in this”.)

    • I’m just going to do my own thing.

    • Don’t worry about it.

  1. Talk about light topics. Talk about the weather, news, etc.

  2. Do not contribute to the conversation if you do not want to.  You can say whatever it is that you normally say to indicate that you’re listening (ok, cool, mmm-hmm, gotcha, etc.). And then let them talk. Keep doing it until they run out of things to say → silence → “Oh I thought you had more to say” → silence → “Well I guess you’ve said everything that you needed to say” → end conversation.

    • Or, let them run out of things to say.  And then change the subject: “So, the weather’s been crazy lately amirite?”

You don’t have to give your abuser a reason to be interested in you!

A quick warning: be careful not to take this too far.  If you completely cut off your abuser from all of your validation and they have nowhere else to get validation from, they may become unstable.  They will become desperate to find a supply and may use desperation tactics on you. They may violate your boundaries (even more than before) to try to get you to change.

Fake buttons

Controlling abusers will intentionally attack your weaknesses and find ways to make you miserable.  If you show that you are hurt in reaction to something that they do, they will repeat that behavior again for the sake of harming you.  They receive positive reinforcement whenever they act against you without consequences.  They feed off of the feeling that they control you.

However, these abusers have two weaknesses:

  1. Their need to hurt others is like a drug addiction.  They can’t stop even when their addiction is hurting them.  They are willing hurt themselves to hurt others, sacrificing a lot of their resources in doing so.
  2. They need you to tell them when you’ve been hurt.  They need your reactions to know when they’ve pushed your buttons.

To see if your abuser has a weakness to fake buttons, create some for them to push.  Choose something that some people hate but you are ok with.  This could be: a particular chore, an errand, Justin Bieber, Rick Astley’s song Never Gonna Give You Up, etc.  Then, pretend to hate that particular thing.  When they push your fake button, show your contempt at their attempt to bully and control you.  If they take the bait and make you listen to Justin Bieber, then you know what their game is and how they can be tricked.  Start training them to push your fake buttons instead of your real buttons.  When they try one of your real buttons, hide your emotions as much as possible.

If your abuser has a weakness to fake buttons, use it to turn the tables on them.  For example, if you are fighting over custody of children, see if they can be baited into doing things that would make them lose custody:

  • Not taking their visitation time, effectively giving you more custody. This might “hurt” you if you need a break from parenting, were planning to see a movie, have an appointment, etc.

  • Incriminating themselves or confessing to illegal activities.

  • Breaking court orders, e.g. not paying child support.

A side effect of baiting your abuser into doing your bidding is that it will help you see who they truly are.

Or, just leave

These techniques will not fully extinguish the abuse.  The underlying toxicity will still be there.  What most abuse survivors eventually figure out is that the simplest solution is the best solution: avoid toxic people altogether.  If you put yourself into a position where you don’t have to engage or interact with them, then you simply won’t have to deal with their toxicity.

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