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Saying No is hard, isn’t it?

It is something so many struggle with in their lives. Saying ‘No’ means disappointing someone, it means creating conflict, it makes us feel rude and maybe even disliked. Survivors of abuse often have an even harder time saying ‘No’, I know I did!

What Makes Saying No so Difficult?

Well, for most people it has to do with the negative emotions they experience. That sense of creating conflict or being disliked. Most people prefer to create or maintain a peaceful relationship.

For survivors of abuse there are more complicating factors. Saying ‘No’ is not something that toxic people accept. I can remember so many time where I said ‘no’ and my mother pushed through whatever she wanted anyway.

One year she volunteered me to waitress at a church fund-raiser. I was on sick-leave so I had the time (her logic, not mine). I told her I could not do this. My break down was so severe I could not even stand going to a supermarket for the sheer amount of sensory overload. She said: but I already volunteered you! If you pull out now, that leaves me with a staffing problem. I ended up doing “a couple of hours” for the time she could not find other staff. I was exhausted!

And so saying No was not only difficult, it was useless. Even if I worked up the nerve, my ‘no‘ was simply ignored. In some cases it even caused real problems, when it would spark anger, rage or revenge. Slowly but surely I learned not to say no. I learned that suffering in silence was easier. I learned to always give in.

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Having gained experience while working for a variety of European non-profits, I am proud to now work with SwanWaters. My connection with the website is not only professional. I am glad to tap into my personal experiences to help those who are living in toxic relationships whether with parents, partners or in their professional life. We need to make the world more aware of the devastating effects of emotional abuse and help more people on their way to heal and thrive.

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