When an abuser is in the honeymoon stage of the abuse cycle, their words are perfect. For some abusers, their words are perfect even when they are in the abuse cycle. An abuser has appearing to be a loving person mastered, it’s an art form. Many abusers can insult and compliment their victim in the same conversation.
Perfect words are not enough. To be told you are beautiful but rejected and criticized for how you look later is confusing. To be told you are loved more than anything or anyone else, and then to be hit or cheated on; it sends a different message. To have your loved one promise to change, to do things differently, to apologize but turn around and do exactly the same things is contradictory.
Guess which message is louder? The loudest message is the one acted out. When the words tell you how you are loved and appreciated, but the actions scream that you are disrespected, unloved, unimportant, expendable, those messages are the ones that sink into your heart.
My ex-husband is a prime example of words conflicting with actions. He could say all the right things, while making me feel like an ugly, incompetent loser unworthy of his time. I didn’t recognize it while we were dating an engaged because our third roommate was one of my best friends and we spent time together when he wasn’t available… Him being unavailable often meant in the same room, but playing games on his computer. When we married things didn’t change. I remember being married only a few months and, even though our work schedules coincided and we were home at the same time, he was absent. He was on the computer, in his office, ignoring me. I felt completely alone. I spent many evenings in tears.
It didn’t improve over the years. After we had children, and they demanded attention, his anger showed itself. With just me, he ignored me. I wasn’t important enough to spend time with unless it was on his terms. With the children, they can’t be ignored, children demand your time in the noisiest possible way. I couldn’t always distract them from him, so they interrupted his computer time. Any time an abuser is forced to give up something they enjoy, they will erupt. Someone will have to pay for their loss of time. An abuser demands attention, and hates it when they have to share that attention with anyone else.
He would tell me I was beautiful, sexy and attractive, yet reject me, or criticize my clothing or appearance at other times.He would praise me to other people, but insult me and yell at me in private. He would apologize, then blame me for what he had done wrong. I came to distrust his words. He was so contradictory that it was impossible to know the truth. By the time our relationship ended, I only believed his words when he was angry. In his anger, he spoke truth.
When your instincts tell you to distrust the words you hear, when your heart is confused about the message you are hearing, it is time to re-evaluate the relationship.
Actions speak louder than words.
This is never more true than when an abuser has claimed to have changed, when they want you to come back. Just as it took time for their true colors to show initially, so it will take time for the honeymoon cycle to end. If an abuser is claiming to change, they will be patient, they will work to earn your trust again, and they will give you time to see the change in their actions, not just their words. It is important to not rush back into any relationship that you have had cause to leave, even on a temporary basis.
If you choose to give them an opportunity to restore your relationship, be very aware, hold them accountable, have someone to hold you accountable and do not ignore even a single red flag.
You deserve to be treated as a loved and valued person, because you are. If the actions don’t match the words, believe the actions first.