In this post, I want to share my personal experience with reactive abuse. I believe it is crucial to shed light on this often misunderstood concept, especially in situations involving cyberbullying, toxic individuals, and enduring a prolonged smear campaign in your name. I will take you on my emotional rollercoaster and illustrate the effects of reactive abuse, the challenges I faced, and the strength I cultivated to overcome such adversity.
Understanding Reactive Abuse: Reactive abuse refers to a response that stems from repeated mistreatment, provocation, or harassment, resulting in an individual reacting in ways that are uncharacteristic of them under normal circumstances. It arises when someone is pushed to their limits, either emotionally or physically, causing them to react in a manner that may be perceived as aggressive or abusive. In essence, it represents a defensive mechanism triggered by ongoing abuse.
I am sure you heard the story about a dog, who was abused daily and eventually turns around and bites their abuser. Who do you blame for the dog biting? The dog for finally protecting itself or the abuser? It is no different with humans, eventually they have had enough and strike back against their abusers.
The Cyberbullying Experience: Throughout my journey, I found myself on the receiving end of relentless cyberbullying through the contents of various websites, 7 at one point contained my name and personal information since November 2017. These acts were carried out by toxic individuals who were persistently targeting me with hurtful and derogatory comments, both publicly and privately. As a result, my emotional well-being deteriorated, causing a profound impact on my mental health. For over 2 years, I carried this heavy burden, feeling helpless in the face of such relentless cruelty they show.
Toxic Tenants and Their Various Toxic Traits: In my story, cyberbullying originated from toxic individuals from a workplace, whom I, unfortunately, had to interact with. I worked as building staff in a residential apartment building in Scarborough, Ontario. Due to their persistent refusals of access for repairs, these tenants were evicted and wanted revenge for that. These toxic tenants possessed a wide range of negative traits, each contributing to the toxic environment I was subjected to.
- Manipulation: They were exceptionally skilled at manipulating situations, often twisting words and events to their advantage, making it challenging for me to defend myself.
- Gaslighting: Gaslighting became a frequent occurrence. I frequently found myself questioning my own judgment, perceptions, and memories, making me feel as if I was losing my grip on reality.
- Devaluation: These individuals actively sought to devalue and demean me, making derogatory remarks about my appearance, capabilities, and achievements. This constant belittlement undermined my self-esteem and created a negative self-image.
- Isolation: Gradually, I became aware of their efforts to isolate me from friends and allies, cutting off my support network and leaving me feeling even more vulnerable and alone.
- Projection: These toxic individuals routinely projected their own insecurities and faults onto me, deflecting any criticism that would have otherwise fallen on them. This created a culture where I was held accountable for their actions.
Enduring a Smear Campaign: The pinnacle of my struggle was enduring a relentless smear campaign that seem to never end, 7 years so far! The toxic tenants organized a systematic character assassination against me on various websites online and on social media, some even in my own name. They strategically deployed lies, rumours, and distorted narratives to tarnish my reputation and credibility. This campaign was conducted across various platforms, both online and offline, amplifying the effects and reach of their efforts.
The Impact of Reactive Abuse: Reactive abuse is a reaction borne out of desperation and a mere instinct for survival. It is vital to understand that I am not condoning or excusing my actions, but rather, I was grappling with overwhelming emotions and an accumulated sense of powerlessness.
- Emotional Rollercoaster: Reactive abuse led me down a tumultuous path, triggering intense emotions such as anger, frustration, sadness, and hopelessness. My reactions were often overshooting the actual provocation due to the cumulative effect of enduring long-standing abuse.
- Guilt and Shame: Having succumbed to reactive abuse, I often experienced overwhelming guilt and shame for reacting in a way that aligned with the very behaviour I despised. It is essential to acknowledge that falling into reactive abuse does not define one’s character. Rather, it highlights the desperate struggle to reclaim a sense of dignity and defend oneself against persistent maltreatment.
- Cycle of Abuse: The toxic context in which reactive abuse manifests creates a vicious cycle, perpetuating the overall damage inflicted. The individual engaged in reactive abuse can find themselves further painted as the “aggressor,” prolonging the abuse they initially reacted to.
- Loss of Self: Reactive abuse can chip away at an individual’s identity, causing them to question their morality and sense of self-worth. I found myself trapped in a cycle of self-doubt, internalizing the negative portrayal imposed on me, and feeling stripped of my true nature. I became someone I was not out of desperation for the pain to stop.
Overcoming Reactive Abuse: Despite the intensity and longevity of the abuse I suffered, I refused to be consumed by my reactive abuse tendencies. I became desperate not to become like them, bitter, defensive and paranoid as I see they have become. Over time, I sought therapy, developed coping strategies, and grew stronger in spirit, determined to heal from the trauma and regain control of my life.
- Seeking Professional Help: Therapy played a vital role in my healing process. It allowed me to unpack the trauma, identify coping mechanisms, and foster healthy tools to manage my emotions, once I learned to describe them once again.
- Developing Emotional Resilience: Through a lot of self-reflection, journaling, and consistent self-care practices, I gradually built emotional resilience. I explored activities that brought me joy, focused on my well-being, and surrounded myself with a supportive network.
- Setting Boundaries: Establishing firm boundaries became paramount in my journey. Recognizing my worth and knowing when to say no allowed me to regain my sense of control and protect myself from further mistreatment.
- Educating Others: I began actively spreading awareness about reactive abuse, cyberbullying, and the impact of toxic traits. By sharing my story and educating others, I aimed to create a more compassionate and understanding society.
Reactive abuse is a complex, distressing, and often misunderstood phenomenon. In the context of cyberbullying, toxic individuals with various toxic traits, and enduring a neverending smear campaign, reactive abuse thrived as a coping mechanism against prolonged mistreatment. My firsthand experience witnessing its effects serves as a reminder that it is essential to approach such situations with empathy and understanding, rather than judgment.
As survivors, it is crucial to seek support, cultivate resilience, and refuse to let reactive abuse define our entire being. By raising awareness, engaging in conversations, and supporting one another, we foster an environment that prioritizes healing, growth, and empathy.