Skip to main content

Protecting My Abusers

Victims do it. Abusers do it. Regular people do it without even realizing it. All too often in abusive situations, all the attention goes to protecting the abuser and blaming the victim.

For most of my life, I absorbed the responsibility for my abuse. I did it because at a young, formative age, I was taught to do it. As a child, I had no other option but to accept that my parents' bad behavior was my fault. Their failure to treat me with love and respect was my fault. When I was sexually abused, I internalized that I was the one who was wrong and bad for what happened. I dutifully kept secrets for my abusers because I was used to doing it, and because I correctly believed I would be the one punished if I said anything. When I did finally stand up to the abuse and escape my toxic family, I was scapegoated. When I went no contact, I still felt guilty about it. Even today, it is difficult for me to separate understanding my abusers from excusing them.

I've been putting off writing about this, because it is such an insidious topic. For victims, a shitload of shame can keep this practice in place. Protecting the abuser is so ingrained in the abuse itself, many victims don't realize the blocks they have. Perhaps they're so used to making excuses for their abuser's bad behavior, they don't even realize they are doing it. Often, the fear of retaliation keeps them silent. Victims of narcissistic abuse are typically emotionally intelligent, empathic people. Their ability to understand the point of view of others  and manage "difficult" (abusive) people is typically what made them a target in the first place. It's this strength that turns into a trap when an abusive person makes the abuse their fault.

Of course, abusers have set up the whole situation to protect themselves and scapegoat their victims. From the moment they start grooming someone, they are creating a scenario in which they can never be at fault, and their victim is the crazy one. It's usually the voice of the abuser whispering lies into the ears of others, intending to manipulate perception. "She probably did something to deserve it." "She's crazy." "It wasn't so bad." "She's overreacting." "No one can be that evil." "She's lying."

Then there's the bystanders, typically unaware they are being duped by a predator. It's a part of human nature to believe that most people are basically good, and when we encounter true evil, we expect it to have a red face and pointy horns. It's hard for some people to accept, in spite of clear evidence in front of them, that someone intentionally meant to lie, cheat, harm, and destroy another person. It's much easier to believe there must be some reasonable explanation. In normal, non-abusive situations of disagreement, conflicting perspectives happen. But in situations of abuse, there is only the abuse and the abused. No one does anything to "deserve" abuse.

Additionally, we live in a broken society in which rapists walk free because they are good swimmers, celebrities walk free because they are rich, and predators who embody the epitome of narcissistic, emotional, and sexual abuse get elected President. The double standard is shocking.

If you have been abused, the first step is to admit it happened. The second step is to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the abuser. No excuses. A victim may understand the reasons why an abuser acted the way he did, i.e. he had an abusive childhood, but that does not excuse the abuse. Ever.  The third step is to tell someone safe. Often, we only find out who is safe through trial and error. Be willing to walk away from anyone who makes excuses for an abusive person. Be willing to walk away from anyone who tries to make you act or feel anything different from what you are experiencing. Some people will disappear. Some will condescend. Some will treat you like you have a contagious disease. These are not your people. Some will listen. Some will relate. Some will empower. Surround yourself with these people, and you will heal.


Popular posts from this blog

No, There Are Not Two Sides

I was in a meeting where a mediator was trying her best to stay impartial to a situation where a large volume of well-documented verbal and emotional abuse had occurred. She was a trained professional, but professionally speaking, she didn't want to be in a position to take sides on the issue. She offered the worn-out platitude, "Well, there are two sides to every story..." I let it slide the first time she said it, but when she said it again, I stopped her.

"Actually, when it comes to abuse, there are not two sides. There is abuse, and there is the recipient of abuse. The recipient of abuse is not at fault for the actions of the abuser."

Her jaw dropped a moment, then she nodded slowly. She knew I was right, and in this moment, a light went on. The situation she was mediating was not about two people having a disagreement. It was about a serial abuser attacking someone else who had done nothing to provoke the attack. She couldn't stay impartial. It was h…

The Difference Between Trauma and Anxiety

I've been living with the effects of complex trauma for a long time, but for many years I didn't know what it was. Off and on throughout my life, I've struggled with what I thought was anxiety and depression. Or rather, In addition to being traumatized, I was anxious and depressed. 

All mental health is a serious matter, and should never be minimized. If you are feeling anxious or depressed, it's important and urgent to find the right support for you. No one gets a prize for "worst" depression, anxiety, trauma or any other combination of terrible things to deal with, and no one should suffer alone. With that in mind, there is a difference between what someone who has CPTSD feels and what someone with generalized anxiety or mild to moderate depression feels.

For someone dealing with complex trauma, the anxiety they feel does not come from some mysterious unknown source or obsessing about what could happen. For many, the anxiety they feel is not rational. Gene…

Yes, They Meant To Hurt You

One of the best ways to spot a toxic person is to confront them about their behavior when you've been hurt. Toxic people will immediately act more hurt than you. They will almost always overreact and become extremely defensive at the slightest suggestion they did something wrong or malicious. They will feign shock  that you would ever suggest they do anything to hurt you. Not only will they minimize and deny any wrongdoing, they will twist the situation around to make you feel ashamed and guilty, hyper-focusing on a more "important" problem: their own bruised ego. How could you ever suspect them of doing such a horrible thing?! Bonus points if they need smelling salts after fainting from their perfectly executed melodrama. 
The histrionics and high drama are a deflection from the truth. Yes, they meant to hurt you. No, they won't ever admit it, and yes, they will make your life a living hell if you try to hold them accountable for their own bad behavior. 
A normal p…