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.