What Are The Dangers of Giving Too Many Chances To An Abuser?
By Susan Ball, Abuse Recovery Expert.
Over-giving is synonymous with co-dependency. Giving and giving to get approval, validation, love, affection, and a sense of belonging is part and parcel of co-dependency.
Why do we overgive?
Because we fear abandonment or being alone or we have a false sense that we can fix or change someone. And in a very unhealthy way, overgiving and attempting to fix a situation or a person, creates a false sense of being in control.
The need to over-give and feel in control becomes dangerous when we are giving way too many chances to someone who is hurting us. I said it many times – “I’ll give him one more chance to stop hurting me, cheating, belittling, ghosting,” because I believed if I kept giving chances he would change and we would be happy. I was trying to control a situation and a person by giving chance after chance after chance.
What happens when you’re in a toxic, abusive, or narcissistic relationship and you’re overgiving chances?
The honest answer: giving too many chances to an abusive, toxic person can have serious and dangerous consequences, including:
- Increased risk of harm: If an abuser is given too many chances, they may believe that their behaviour is acceptable and they will escalate their abuse. After all, you have shown them there are no consquences and they will get another chance.
- Normalization of abuse: When an abuser is given multiple chances, it can normalize abusive behaviour in the eyes of the victim (you) and those around you. This can lead to a cycle of abuse that feels impossible to break.
- Withdrawal: When an abuser is repeatedly given chances with no change, we begin to withdraw from the outside world. As we give more and more chances, our friends and family will question our motivations for staying and it becomes almost impossible to explain our “whys” and our fears. So we withdraw and that makes leaving even more difficult simply because we have let go of our support system.
- Psychological Harm (PTSD): Sadly, repeatedly giving chances without a positive result, feeds the co-dependent’s low self-esteem and feelings of being unloveable and unworthy. And can establish the false narrative that they are responsible for the abuse and are powerless to escape the situation leading to staying way past the relationship’s expiry date.
- Legal consequences: Although this is distasteful and wrong, in some cases, repeatedly giving an abuser chances can have legal consequences. For example, if a victim reports abuse but continues to reconcile with their abuser, it can be more difficult to prosecute the abuser and hold them accountable for their actions.
What would happen if you gave yourself all the chances you are giving away? How would you benefit – mentally, emotionally, physically, and psychologically?
I know it may seem impossible to stop giving away chances because you want the relationship to work and you feel if you stop, you’re quitting the relationship or giving up on helping the person grow, get better or overcome their demons.
None of that is true! They only person you are quitting on, is you!
How to make you a priority:
Boundaries – I hear the groans but it’s true – co-dependents are individuals who struggle with establishing healthy boundaries and often prioritize the needs of others over their own, while over-giving refers to the tendency to give more than is necessary or healthy in relationships. Together, these two patterns of behaviour can lead to feelings of resentment, exhaustion, and a lack of fulfillment in relationships.
Embrace Selfish – you have the right to look after yourself, say no, protect your energy, and simply be selfish. Your health, happiness, and peace rely on you stepping into and embracing selfish. Start by setting time aside for you. Mark “date with me” in your calendar and do not under any circumstances break that date with you.
Be Alone – spend time doing things alone. It can be as easy as going for a walk by yourself. Or taking yourself out for a coffee.
Set Yourself Up For Independence – yes! What do you need to do to establish independence? Your own savings account. Volunteering. Back to school. Change of career. As co-dependents, we become very intertwined and if the relationship is toxic, we set ourselves up to feel defeated. Where are you intertwined and how can you begin the unravelling?
Bottom line – when you hear yourself saying “I’ll give him/her one more chance”, stop, take a breath and say, “No way. I’m giving myself this chance to take a step toward independence, building my self-esteem, and taking care of me because I am worth it.”
Susan Ball is an Abuse Recovery Expert who works with women ready to free their voice, break the cycle, and live life unapologetically. You can begin your healing journey by downloading her free ebook ‘12 Proven Action Steps to Break the Cycle’ here: https://www.recoveryafterabuse.ca/f/break-the-cycle-12-action-steps
Thank you for your insight on over-giving. I recently discovered that I am a CoDependent which contributed to 25 years of a strained and unhappy marriage with a Covert Narcissist until I finally got my divorce in 1998. Because we have a developmentally disabled daughter, he continues to intrude on my life. Your comments helped me to see how I can strengthen my boundaries.
You are welcome. I’m happy to hear you removed yourself but I also understand how the abuser will continue to intrude on our lives. They can be relentless. Strengthen your boundaries and be firm. I know it’s hard but it will support your safety and peace of mind. You’ve got this courageous woman.