Finding the courage to set boundaries on being abused & even to end a toxic relationship isn’t easy. It takes a tremendous amount of courage & strength to do such things. One of the few things that is even more difficult is to tell other people your story. Part of the reason for this is the victim blaming & shaming that is so common in society.
Many people simply don’t want to hear anything negative. They are so obscenely positive it’s just ridiculous. If something is less than positive, they don’t want to hear it, & will shut that person down quickly when they can.
Even more common is those who have been abused themselves, yet refuse to face their pain. When they see someone facing their pain & conquering it, it makes them feel uncomfortable for two reasons. First, it reminds them of what they are trying so hard to forget. Second, it makes them feel inferior for not doing the same thing.
There are also those who enable abusers. For whatever bizarre reasons, they pity abusers & hate victims instead of the other way around. They have no tolerance for anyone who dares to speak out against abuse. They label these people troublemakers, liars, attention seekers, drama queens & more.
Often, people like this are easy to spot. They are the loud ones who call victims names, harass them & even send them vicious hate emails, texts & voicemails. The one plus about these people is you can have no doubt about what kind of awful person you’re dealing with when they act this way. The problem is when people are much more subtle in the way they try to shame & shut down victims. Below are some warning signs that someone is not safe to tell your story to.
If someone refers to your relationship as one where both you & your abuser are at fault for its demise, this person isn’t safe. We all know that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. However, when a person is abusive, it’s not an innocent mistake. It’s a deliberate choice to harm another person. Any functional person should recognize that!
All victims need understanding & empathy. Even if a person hasn’t been in an abusive relationship, anyone should be able to grasp that it’s not a pleasant experience & feel badly that anyone experienced that. Someone who can’t clearly lacks empathy & is a toxic person.
Avoid anyone who trivializes the abuse. One of my aunts once referred to the abuse I experienced as, “childhood hurts.” That truly hurt me & it destroyed our relationship. Luckily, it happened well into my healing journey. If it happens to someone new to their healing, an invalidating comment like this can be devastating!
Those who make excuses for abusers should be avoided. People who do this are as toxic as the abuser! They invalidate the victim’s pain & suffering, & even make the victim feel ashamed for not being understanding, or being too sensitive & such. The truth is there is NO good reason to abuse, period.
People who judge a person’s healing are toxic. Everyone heals differently & at a different pace. Many toxic people try to rush a victim along with comments like, “You need to let this go.” “It’s been how many months since you left him?” “You told me this already.” This does no good! To process & heal from abuse, it takes a lot of time, energy & sometimes even telling the same story over & over in an attempt to make some sense of it. A person who doesn’t understand that is toxic.
Anyone who uses a person’s faith as a reason they should tolerate abuse is incredibly toxic & should be avoided at all costs. While God didn’t promise this life would be easy, He never said anywhere in the Bible that tolerating abuse is good & holy. Yet, there are many who think it is the “good Christian” thing to do, tolerating abuse. I’m no theologian, but I do recognize that tolerating & enabling abuse is not only wrong, it’s not God’s will.
If you come across these kinds of people, remember, not everyone needs to know your story. Refuse to discuss it with them. You don’t need to be abused even more than you already have been!