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Finding Voice in the Midst of Abuse

The thing about being passive in the face of conflict or innapropriate behavior is that it can inadvertently enable it.

It is not that one need be aggressive in return, but may comment on it with a sense of curiosity, almost calling it out as a reflection of the other and not something of which to be accepting, tolerant of, or as a reflection of oneself.

I know for some it can be scary to speak to such behavior. To do so one may have to assess their sense of safety.

In many instances people are actually safe although feeling emotionally insecure. If that is the case, I suggest taking the risk to assert oneself, letting the other know how the behavior was unacceptable and hurtful or undermining of the relationship.

Even if then the other doesn’t respond well, continues innapropriately, you learn something.

You have a voice… and the other has issues.

As you excersice your voice, you become stronger. You develop your sense of boundaries and self worth.

That brings the change you may be seeking.

“I don’t understand your behavior. It is hurtful. It undermines my view of you and our relationship. It causes me to want to distance from you. How do you see it as helpful?”



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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.


Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.


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20 Suter Crescent, Dundas, ON, Canada L9H 6R5 Tel: (905) 628-4847 Email: gary@yoursocialworker.com