Differences In Justifying & Understanding Abuse

There is often a great amount of faulty thinking among people that says if you understand why an abuser abuses, that means you’re justifying the abuse.  While that certainly is possible, it isn’t always the case, & it’s also never wise.


Anyone who’s been subjected to narcissistic abuse knows narcissists love gaslighting.  Any time they can mess with your perception, feelings & sanity, they are going to jump at that chance.  This even happens when it comes to  their abuse.  They often deny it happened, say it didn’t happen the way you remember or even blame you for making them do whatever it is they did.  As a result of all the gaslighting, it can be very difficult to know & understand the truth.  In fact, it becomes so difficult, many victims do take on the blame for being abused.


I was one of those victims who believed being abused was my responsibility.  If I would just be a better daughter, get better grades, obey my mother even more, etc. my mother wouldn’t have needed to spend so much time screaming at me & telling me what a horrible person I was.  Maybe too, my father might try to protect me from her.  I later carried that behavior into my first marriage & my current marriage as well, believing all of the problems in my marriage or with the in-laws were 100% my fault.  In fact, it’s only been in the last probably 10 years or so I’ve been seeing how wrong that is.


One thing that helped me to see that I wasn’t always to blame is to understand the people who blamed me.  I learned about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, then later that there are overt & covert narcissists.  I learned how these people behave, & how they abuse.  I also learned about their motivation always being procuring narcissistic supply.  The more I learned, the more I understood my abusers.  Things finally started to make sense.  And, the more I realized those who blamed me when they were the abusers were really messed up!  After a lifetime of hearing that I was the problem, I can’t tell you how freeing it was to learn beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was NOT the real problem!


A lot of people will say understanding your abuser is a waste of time.  They’re evil, why bother?  Maybe that works for them, which is great of course, but for me, it was an integral part of my healing.


But, this could have ended poorly just as easily.  If I hadn’t questioned the “disorder” in Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I probably would have bought into  the false believe that narcissists can’t help how they behave, because it’s a disorder.  Even seeing all the narcissists in my life control their abusive behavior very well, I wouldn’t have trusted my own instincts about it being something they can indeed control thanks to years of gaslighting.  I could have justified their abuse because they have a “disorder” which means they can’t control their behavior.  It’s not their fault they act the way they do.  Who can control a disorder, after all?!


I believe this sort of thinking happens with some folks who learn about NPD.  They hear it’s a disorder, & are willing to absolve the narcissist of responsibility for their behavior.


Maybe other people justify narcissist’s behavior because the narcissist had an abusive or neglectful childhood.  While certainly that can create issues in a person, narcissism is a choice.  Narcissists choose to behave the way they do, & they do it because it gets them what they want.


Many people justify their behavior because narcissists are not abusive all of the time.  They throw in some nice behavior sometimes.  This confuses victims.  They know the narcissist is capable of being kind & hope she’ll return to being that way.  They fail to realize this is only to lure a victim back into the narcissist’s web, so they make excuses for the bad behavior.  They say things like, “She’s under a lot of stress lately” or, “He was just drunk- it’s not his fault.”  Nice behavior done by a narcissist is never done out of love, but as a way to manipulate & control.


Justifying narcissistic abuse in any way is NOT healthy!  It damages your mental health!  It makes you believe you are to blame for what the narcissist does.  It makes you apologize to the narcissist when she abuses you.  It makes you tell yourself incredibly damaging things like you don’t matter.


Always remember, there is a huge difference between understanding your abuser & justifying her behavior.  And, only one (understanding your abuser) has the ability to help you.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

15 responses to “Differences In Justifying & Understanding Abuse

  1. Is part of the problem that some have no perception or understanding of the reality of evil? I’ve observed that if you are one who takes the scientific (rather than the spiritual) approach, that all behavior is caused by environment or genetics, you are more likely to excuse and explain narcissistic abuse as a mental disorder that can be treated with therapy. My own FOO tried this approach with my MNF and it didn’t work. There is no treatment, no psychotherapy, that can cure narcissism. And that is because narcissism isn’t a mental disorder but a disorder of the character, namely a free-will choice by abusers to benefit by hurting others. Unless or until a victim sees this they are less likely to put the blame where it belongs, which is with the abuser.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That wouldn’t surprise me at all. I don’t think there are a lot of people who believe that sin, evil, Satan & demons are all real. So if evil doesn’t exist, environment & genetics certainly can excuse NPD & it’s treatable. That makes a lot of sense. I think too people fail to realize it’s all a choice- these people see that what they do hurts people, but continue to choose to behave the way they do anyway because it gets them what they want. It’s less painful to believe the behavior is beyond their control than a choice to deliberately hurt someone they should love.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. For most of the 20 years spent with my abuser, I became the ultimate excuser, took the blame. Only near the end, as I ran into hiding, did I realize his behavior was not my fault. We all make choices.
    The childhood neglect and abuses I suffered did not turn me into a person wanting to inflict pain on others. I choose to be kind.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is a great post. I believe you nailed it.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ibikenyc

    What I’ve found is that learning everything I could about NPD (and other Cluster-B disorders) helped me tremendously with detaching from it.

    (Forgive my use of this particular phrase, but it made it much easier for me to “Not take it so PERsonally.”)

    It’s also made it ever-easier to predict — and thus brace myself for — the next wave of soul rape.

    Since I understand his motivation, I’ve been able to arm myself with, as it were, a stock set of Dos and Don’ts. One thing I find myself doing almost without conscious thought is silently praying in my head for guidance. That seems to work extremely well; I remain calm, or at least calmER, and he seems to give up and walk away much sooner.

    I’m also VERY mindful of not giving him ANYTHING to grab onto and hurl back at me.

    None of this means, however, that I think any of his abuse is okay!

    A serial killer does what he does because of (short version) “the voices in his head.” We might all understand this, but nobody would consider it a justification!

    Liked by 2 people

    • If you remain in an abusive relationship, and escape in your mind, I urge you to find the strength to remove yourself from the situation. Educating one’s self on the reasons behind another’s behaviors so you may “understand” them is not sufficient. No one deserves abuse in any shape or fashion. Free yourself from that which destroys you.

      Liked by 3 people

      • ibikenyc

        Oh, I am working on it, believe me!

        A while back I realized that my involvement with him and this horrorshow is “just” a symptom and that I must address and change those things about myself that have kept me in a lifelong relationship Groundhog Day. He isn’t the first (by a LONG shot), but I’m doing everything I can to make sure he’s the last: I have been and remain on a powerfully-focused journey of self-discovery and self-healing.

        Thank you for your kind words and encouragement! 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

        • As a survivor of a 20 year dangerously abusive relationship, now that I’m free, my goal is to help others avoid the mistakes I made. The journey I took is documented in my book, A Good Little Girl, by Kenzie O’Hara, and it is through this true tale, I hope to assist others. Both those who are currently suffering abuse, and their loved ones watching on the sidelines puzzled, may benefit from my experiences. Best wishes to you, and may you continue to gather the strength you need.

          Liked by 4 people

  5. The Foreign Wanderer

    Thank you I needed to be reminded of this today. I grew up with a narcissistic mother and am always understanding what made her that way, but I think I justify her too instead of just understanding. I have a lot of fear that I will become a narcissist because of the abuse I endured as a child. Do you have any thoughts on this?


    • You’re welcome! 🙂

      I think it’s easy to justify a mother’s abusive behavior simply because that is your mother. Children of any age want their mother’s love & have trouble accepting she doesn’t love them. That means they often find ways to justify the abuse. With healing, that happens less & less until it disappears. One way to stop doing it would be to pretend a friend came to you with the complaints you have. Think about what you would tell her. Looking at it from that perspective can help you to look at your situation from a different angle & remove the emotions from it. It can help you see things clearer.

      As far as you possibly becoming a narcissist, I’ve heard a lot of people say that same thing. I even worried about being that way. One thing to consider though is narcissists have no ability to reflect on their behavior. If you were narcissistic, even slightly, you wouldn’t even think of that being a possibility.

      Liked by 1 person

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