Excerpted from "When Loved Ones Lash Out," appearing in Stroke Connection Magazine Nov/Dec 2008.
As all of us who’ve lived in families know, things can get complicated. The individual vs. family issue is complex because it gets at the heart of how we define ourselves and our responsibilities in isolation and as members of a larger social group.
The following questions don’t have right or wrong answers. Their purpose is to help family caregivers who may be dealing with abusive loved ones gain some objectivity and come to a clearer awareness of many aspects of their situation in order to help identify and implement potential solutions.
- Did this behavior exist before the stroke?
- How much of a mental and emotional drain is this situation? Do I carry on angry conversations with the person in my mind? Do I find myself fretting or crying about this situation regularly?
- Am I afraid for my personal safety or well-being?
- If the situation doesn’t improve, how long am I willing to continue this way?
- What ideas have I tried to improve things? Have any of them made life better, even temporarily? If the answer is yes, am I willing to try those ideas again, or modify them so that they may help more permanently?
- Are there ideas or solutions I’ve heard of and haven’t tried yet?
After answering these questions, consider seeing a professional counselor on your own to get help and perspective on handling this very complicated situation. Things are unlikely to get better if you don’t take action. Remember the three Rs: It is important to
Recognize the behavioral features of abuse and the difficulties that require professional attention.
React through firm communication and implementing professional interventions.
Realize the kind of situation you are in and take steps that will make it better.
Supplemental Information: View a list of questions that may help you better assess and make decisions about your situation if your loved on is lashing out.