Learning to Stop Over-Apologizing Because I Was Abused

July 21, 2022 Cheryl Wozny

If there is one thing I have learned through countless hours of therapy, it is how I need to stop apologizing for everything. Although Canadians are very apologetic, this pattern is prevalent with verbal abuse victims even more so. My underlying desire to make everything better and have everyone be happy with the situation has built an unstable emotional foundation for my life. 

Apologizing for Every Little Thing Is Over-Apologizing

Looking back, I can now see how I allowed my abusers to manipulate my thoughts and emotions in many scenarios. As a result, I would feel responsible even when the situation was not my fault or entirely out of my control. My entire existence revolved around making the abuser happy

Unfortunately, I carried this attribute into adulthood, and it became a part of my existence. I would apologize for every little thing that I think may cause the other person distress, anxiety, or discomfort in some way. Even though several therapists told me to stop apologizing for things that were not my responsibility, I remained stuck in my verbal abuse victim cycle for many years. 

Why Over-Apologize Because of Abuse? 

Some abuse victims, like myself, have used apologizing as a self-preservation technique. This action is a common after-effect of abuse that individuals use as a protective shield to keep others happy and avoid facing negative responses that they are afraid will turn to abuse again.

Over-apologizing stems from a submissive state; when individuals use this tactic, they try to avoid confrontation or an escalating situation. This behavior may be especially prevalent in abuse victims who are no longer with their abuser but have not adequately healed from their past. 

Learning to Take a Step Back from Over-Apologizing Due to Abuse

Stepping back from apologetic behaviors is not an easy task. It takes a great deal of conscious effort to rewire your thought process and choose to react differently from how your brain is accustomed to. Luckily for me, this process is starting to become easier, although I still need to fine-tune some ways to approach everyday circumstances. 

One example that I have taken a liking to is thanking the other person instead of apologizing.

For example, if I were running late, instead of me rushing in and apologizing for being late, a better approach would be to say: 

  • Thank you for waiting for me. I know how busy you must be. 

In a work situation where I was running behind with a project, rather than apologizing profusely, I could use this method: 

  • Thank you for your patience. I understand how important this project is, and I will have it to you by Friday.

As I learn to take a step back, I see how automatically apologizing keeps me in a vulnerable state, with similar feelings to being an abuse victim once again. 

Stop Over-Apologizing 

I am starting to find my power once more. My healing journey has been long, but it is worth it, as I see those around me as people who can support and guide me rather than tear me down. 

If you know someone who continuously apologizes for every little thing, be patient with them and try to understand their situation. This individual may feel vulnerable and unable to fully trust, causing them to use the habits that kept them through rough times. 

If you are over-apologetic, try to take a step back and look at what is beyond your control and responsibility. Of course, you do not have to make everyone happy or fix every situation. In the end, you will be better for realizing this. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2022, July 21). Learning to Stop Over-Apologizing Because I Was Abused, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

November, 15 2023 at 11:12 pm

What a powerful explanation of what this (habitually over-apologizing as a trauma response) really looks and feels like. Happy that you are finding your power, and thank you for using your *voice* here...extremely helpful!

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