“I Did This to Me” — The Lie That Abuses the Abused


Whenever I was abused or have worked with the abused, there’s always the narrative, “I did something to attract this. It confirms my worst fears about me. There’s something so sick about me that I brought this on myself.” And culture at large does nothing to counter this lie.

The reason it’s scary to tell someone “I’ve been abused” is because it literally feels like saying “I let myself be degraded” or “I did something wrong” somehow. I might as well paint a target on my back that says “weak and desperate for any attention, especially if it’s abuse.”

I also hate this whole notion of romanticized forgiveness for your abuser. It’s a Hollywood hologram. “You have to forgive or it’ll kill you.” No: abuse can kill you. Self-care and boundaries need to be championed first. Forgiveness doesn’t ever have to mean friendship.

I do believe that abusers are molded by systemic unseen forces of trauma and class damage. But I’m afraid we offer too many explanations for the abuser rather than compassion for the wounded. We want our villains to have nuance because we elevate sensationalism over the hurting.

And for the abused: People find you suspect if you’re out smiling, laughing, enjoying yourself, as if being abused makes you permanently somber. Don’t listen. Pain can coincide with joy. We need joy to break through the pain. Your journey is yours. Laugh, cry, nap, dream, defy.

J.S.


Photo from Unsplash

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2 thoughts on ““I Did This to Me” — The Lie That Abuses the Abused

  1. I think victims of abuse are silent for several reasons. There’s the abuser that’s alcohol or drug fueled, where the abuser loses control. My sister said of her husband, “He’d come home drunk and beat me and in the morning he’d see me all bruised and he’d cry about it.” Profuse apologies, declarations of love, promises to never do it again, keep the victim prisoner in the situation, hoping to dodge the next explosion.

    In other cases, the abuser justifies his action as simply punishment needed for the victim’s behavior. “If you wouldn’t have been so stupid I wouldn’t have hit you.” Victims come to accept all the blame and the shame keeps them prisoner. They won’t talk about it, because, “Why should I admit just how awful I am?” As a friend explained it, her husband made her believe that ‘You should be ashamed of yourself for being so bad I have to punish you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well described. Society, as a whole, does an excellent job of blaming the victim. The self blame is merely the self saying what society believes.

    Let us all raise our voices to stop the victim blaming wherever it occurs.

    Liked by 1 person

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