Ask Blain: How do I get X to Y?

This is the beginning of something I’ve wanted to try for a while now — a suggestion column.  Like an advice column, but generally made in the form of suggestions.  If you want to ask me questions that have some relevance to abuse, email them to me at and I’ll post them here with my answer.  This one might take care of quite a few of them, however, as it’s the form of the most common question I’ve gotten over the years: 

Q:  How do I get X to Y? (where X is a particular person the asker cares about, and Y is something they think X should do)

A:  For all X and Y, the answer is the same:  You can’t.  They will or won’t Y by their own choices, and for their own reasons, so even if they do Y, it won’t be because of anything you could possibly say or do.  This is hard to accept when you are quite convinced that Y is very important for X, and that everything would be better if only they would Y.  This is very dangerous thinking, and can lead to abusive behavior and destroyed relationships.  Respect X’s autonomy as a human being — this is very important if you want X to grow and heal out of an abusive relationship.

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