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how can i be more assertive without coming across as rude or nasty?

(31 Posts)
booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 12:24:50

i was assaulted at the weekend by someone who knows me and i cant help thinking that this person knew they would get away with trying it on me. i also struggle with asserting myself with my mum,this sounds really immature but she has actually toldme not to be so cheeky when i have tried to in the past, and i can honestly say i wasn't being cheeky. i dont want to come across to people as an arrogant arsehole but the incident a the weekend has realy annoyed me and i dont want people thinking they can treat me how they like because i will just take it.

ElsieMc Mon 12-Sep-11 12:28:59

Who has assaulted you? This is a criminal offence and you need to deal with this straightaway and report it to the police.

The issue with your mother is a separate one; she is treating you as a child by using the word "cheeky". This is a measure to put you in your place and make you compliant, but you need to stand up for yourself. Your views matter and should not be subordinate to those of your mother and remind yourself of this.

I hope that you are okay and not too shaken by what happened to you at the weekend. Please don't let this person get away with this or it may well escalate as the line has been crossed.

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 12:34:42

it was a family member and i wont be reporting it to the police for both mine and her family's sake. it would divide my family.
i am still in shock to be honest but apart from a few bruises iam physically fine.

how do i stand up for myself though. i have tried in the past and i always get emotional and end up having to leave. if i do manage to say what i want, she dismisses it it, by rolling her eyes or sighing. i often tell her i dont wish to discuss things withher because i know it will escalate but he will push itand then if i still refuse to engage she will sulk and say,i'm just trying to look out for you.

buzzskillington Mon 12-Sep-11 12:35:53

Try this as a starting point?

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 12:42:06

"a few bruises"?

That sounds horrendous, booyhoo.

You ask: "how do i stand up for myself". Maybe a start would be to report this person for assault, family or not.

If you can't face that yet, then try to sign up to an assertiveness or verbal self-defence course. Another, longer-term thing for you to consider would be counselling: it sounds from your posts that a dynamic of domination and submission runs through your family (a mother who demeans and dismisses you, a relative who assaults you, your own feeling that you can't stand your ground, ...). There sounds like there's a lot going on there that a psychotherapist could help you unpick.

The necessary first step to being properly assertive, without aggressiveness, is to believe that you deserve good treatment. Maybe deep down you don't believe that yet.

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 12:52:36

i can't report her. i dont want to say too much incase this outs me but she also assaulted her daughter who is my best friend, as much as i agree with you that this should be reported, my friend needs me right now and i wont report her mother to the police. she has a loyalty to her family that i respect but i a very aware that at any minute she may need somewhere to come. i dont want her thinking that she has no-one.

yes, i have been thinking aout this alot since the weekend and i realised alot of my relationships do seem to have me in the 'bite-my-tongue and cry when it's over camp'. i dont want this, i dont want my children seeing people dominating me like that.

wrt the courses, i am a LP and getting out of the house for somethinglike that would be nigh on impossible. i dnt have anyone that can come regularly to babysit and i am not working so couldn't afford to pay a proper babysitter aswell as pay for a class.

are there any goo books on this?

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 12:55:23


dittany Mon 12-Sep-11 12:56:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MangoMonster Mon 12-Sep-11 13:00:30

Sorry you're having such a hideous time. Glad you feel you want to change the way things are. Reading is a good start to see what could be of use to you.

dobbybono Mon 12-Sep-11 13:02:03

i can't help but think these assaults are going to get worse if your friend has also been assaulted by her own mother.
This person is going to get away with this time and time again. I think it would be a good idea for you to speak to a health visitor or your gp for some help if you don't want to go to the police.
it's time to break the cycle now,enough is enough,you and your friend are worth more than this.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 13:02:44

Here is the basic framework for making assertive statements when you feel your needs or your boundaries are being stepped on:

1. Describe the situation, unemotively and without judgment or blame. This is so that neither party can dispute what is happening. (eg. "Mom, you just called me 'cheeky'.")

2. Express your feelings, or alternatively your need, using only "I" statements. (eg. "That makes me feel like a child", or "I need to be treated like an adult")

3. Request an immediate, achievable change in behaviour (eg. "Speak to me like a grown-up")

Do not say please. Do not justify beyond your own feelings or needs. Do not lay blame. That's it.

It's not magic. But what it will achieve is stating the limits of what you can accept. If the other person continues to overstep that, that is their choice, and it is up to you to back up your belief in your own limits by reacting in an appropriate way (eg. broken record repetition of sentences 2 and 3, leaving the room, whatever works for you and is neither attacking the other person, nor backing down on your own stated limits).

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 13:30:22

i have ordered one of those books from amazon, thank you meand

i think what has annoyed me so much about the weekend is that i stated repeatedly that i was't going to respond to her (the verbal stuff was throughout the evening) i kept saying "i'm not doing this with you" "move away from me" "i'm not going to argue with you" and i didn't, she got right into my face and i kept turning my head away and that's when it got physical. she didn't accept me ignoring her. i think i did the right thing bynot responding to her comments. i wanted to but i was worried that she would lash out at me so i kept quiet. now i'm thinking maybe i should have responded alot sooner and let her see she couldn't bully me? i dont know.

dittany Mon 12-Sep-11 13:32:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 13:36:20

Don't be down on yourself! You reacted the way you could at the time. In fact, it sounds like you reacted very well, and you can congratulate yourself for stating your position clearly and not rising to any emotional bait.

She didn't accept you ignoring her because that's the kind of person she is. Nothing you do can stop her being who she is. The only person whose behaviour you can affect is yourself. IMO assertiveness is about being true to yourself, and knowing when to bow out in the face of continued antagonism from another person who is only out to attack and control.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 13:37:22

x-post with dittany; agree totally.

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 13:38:30

at the start yes, i said i wasn't doingthis with her and walked away. but the assault and the late verbal stuff was on a bus, she blocked my way out of my seat so my only option was to turn my head away, that's when she grabbed my throat, her DD stood up at that point and tried to get her off me so she grabbed her DD instead and other friends pulled me out from under them. i hid at the back of the bus but she came up after me and stated the verbal stuff again, i just looked at the floor this time i was against the wndow and cornered again, i knew if i answered her i would have been hurt so i stayed silent although that seemed to infuriate her more.

dittany Mon 12-Sep-11 13:44:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 13:45:04

Oh booyhoo, it sounds like you're going over this incident trying to figure out what you could have done differently .

It sounds like a horrible and traumatic experience, and from what you say it sounds like you acted in a mature and sensible manner. Again, nothing you could have done would have made her be a better person than she is. All you can do in these situations is react as best you can to protect yourself, and you did this, by acting to prevent an escalation. You did well.

Do you have sympathetic RL people to pour this out to over a cup of tea? You've got a lot to offload.

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 13:53:33

yes i have another friend who isn't known to any of them and i had a goodcry with her yesterday.

there have been threats in the past from both parents on all of the children, i mean things like standing over them wth their fists balled up warning them not to say another word. i have seen my friend being punched by her mum once before, that was for continuing to talk whn she had been warned not to. they are a agressiv family. there is alot more to what happened on saturday night involving her other children but i think i have said enough. i dont think aymore needs to be said.

ihave to goand collect ds1 nowbut will be back later.

purplepidjin Mon 12-Sep-11 13:55:59

It sounds like you did everything right (I work with people with challenging behaviour and your responses are spot on)

Start by believing that her behaviour was unacceptable. She has NO RIGHT to treat you like that, verbally or physically. You may not want to involve the authorities, however you also don't have any obligation to spend time with her, and family harmony should back you up - if they don't, have a think about the amount of time you waste spend with these people and how much it is costing you emotionally.

Wrt to your relationship with your mum, if she insults you then simply leave. Let her drama-llama all she wants but when she starts, withdraw

Good luck and I hope the physical injuries are swift to heal

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 14:19:33

i have already decided that i wont have any more to do with her family, except of course my friend. i absoloutely know that her behaviour was not normal or acceptable. i just think there must be something about me that says to people "walk over me, i'll just take it" i know for a fact that it would never have happened if my mum had been there. what is it about her that tells people "dont try it on with me"? i dont want to dominate anyone, i dont want to bully anyone but i dont want to be seen as someone who can be bullied.

ItsMeAndMyPuppyNow Mon 12-Sep-11 14:26:33

It could be lots of things, booyhoo.

I really do recommend going on a good self-defence course if you can find time away from DC. I learned a lot from attending one -- such as how much my body language is deferential even when my words are not.

I also firmly believe that self-belief (or lack thereof) is signalled through lots of little ways that boundary-crashers pick up on.

But do stop trying to find fault with yourself: what happened to you this weekend was not your fault. If another person chooses to assault you, it's on them, not you.

purplepidjin Mon 12-Sep-11 15:19:03

You really do sound like you've done all you can. As Puppy said, body language is crucial. Only 7% of communication is the actual words. Off the top of my head 60 something is how you hold yourself and the rest is tone of voice. Do you have a mate who would let you practice on them? Bit of role play, if you like (with wine involved to loosen the inhibitions)

booyhoo Mon 12-Sep-11 16:30:03

yes purple that is a good idea. my friend that i talked to yesterday about it would probably be more than happy to role play with me.

meand, i know it wasn't my fault and tha hr actionswere absoloutely her own choice but i just feel that there mus be smething about me that signals to people it's ok to throw their weight about with me. as i said,i know that incidentwould never have happened had my mumbeen there. there is a level of respectfor my mum(from this person) that isn't there for me.

crispface Mon 12-Sep-11 21:35:21

i am really sorry this has happened to you, and very sorry for your friend too sad What an awful situation for her.

However I think you sound like you handled it really well, and did nothing to provoke the assault, nor could you have done anything to stop it happening.

How you can change though is in the way you deal with it. By not reporting it (for whatever reason) you have just allowed yourself to be assaulted, you have made yourself a martyr and you have not asserted any form of authority.

If you are comparing yourself to your mum, and would wonder what she would do differently, I imagine the answer lies in whether or not she would report it.

Yes it would feel difficult with your friend, but if the roles were reversed would you expect her to keep quiet? And if she chose to go to the police you would (presumably) understand?

who knows, the prosecution might actually offer some help to this woman, who sounds very much like she needs it.

Good luck, I hope it all works out for you, and I am sorry if I sound harsh.

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