Re-Victimizing Survivors

In my experience as well as speaking with others who also have survived narcissistic abuse, I’ve noticed a very common phenomenon.  Society’s invalidation & even gaslighting of victims.

Possibly the most clear example of this came from my high school guidance counselor.  I went to her, trying to find some way to get along with my narcissistic mother, & not only wasn’t helped, I was hurt in the process.  One day, I told her about what I called my mother’s “lectures”, where she would scream at me, telling me how terrible I was, how other people talked about me behind my back because of how terrible I was & even accusing me of things I hadn’t done.  The counselor’s response?  “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad.”

Dear Reader, if you have experienced something similar to someone you told about your history of abuse, you know how painful this experience is.  It can catch you off guard, especially when it comes from someone you care about or expect to care, such as a therapist.

If you haven’t had the “pleasure” of this experience, chances are you will at some point.  Either way, when someone acts as described below, you need to remember, they clearly have a problem.

Some people blame victims for making the abuser act as they have.  Common sense should dictate that anyone who does this has their own issues.  No one can make someone abuse them!  Don’t accept this person’s blame for your abuser hurting you!  All blame for the abuse lies squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, period!

Some people also blame the victim for not getting away from their abuser sooner.  Many people don’t understand the concept of the trauma bond, how a victim can form a strong bond to their abuser.  They also don’t understand how abusers can financially abuse victims, leaving them with no money or means to earn money so they can escape.  Further more, they also fail to understand how many abusers have beaten their victims down so badly that the victims don’t think they can survive without the abuser.

Some people make the victim feel to blame for not being able to get along with the abuser.  I think it was about 5 ago, one of my aunts told me that I needed to get into therapy & figure out how to get along with my parents, & “don’t dare tell her it won’t work!”  I told her I did that when I was only 17 & what I learned is no relationship can work if only one person is willing to work on it.  I stand by that today.  No relationship can be healthy if only one person works on it.  People who don’t realize that are foolish.  

Some people assume they know best what the abuser’s  intentions are, & assume they have good intentions but misguided actions.  If someone defends your abuser by saying things like, “He didn’t mean to hurt you…”  “She just doesn’t know any better”, or “That’s just how he is,” this person is invalidating & gaslighting you.  No truly innocent person hurts people repeatedly after being called out on their behavior.  

Some people push victims to heal.  Only the most toxic person would dare to trivialize a victim’s horrific experiences, tell a victim of abuse to “get over it”, accuse a victim of being codependent or fail to understand why that person hasn’t “forgiven & forgotten.”  Healing is a very individual path.  Everyone’s path is very different.  Also, every narcissist is different, so naturally how they abuse their victims is different.  It’s only natural to assume that no two victims will heal the same way & many victims will have to work on their healing for a long time, most likely a lifetime.

People who treat victims like I described in this post are further abusing victims rather than helping them.  If you come across people like this, stay away from them.  Instead, deal with people who possess empathy, kindness & aren’t judgmental know it alls who assume they know your situation better than you do.

11 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

11 responses to “Re-Victimizing Survivors

  1. ibikenyc

    “That’s just how he is.”

    Yeah, and just how I am is expecting to be treated with kindness and respect!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. annealcroft

    By now I have learned that there is absolutely nothing we could ever do in the eyes of the narcissistic abuser to be treated with kindness and respect.

    If they do show some feigned sentiment of affection, beware that it is nothing but a sugar pill laced with arsenic.

    This is not cynicism, but raw reality.

    Along the healing journey when, by the grace of God I see clearly the ways in which as a very little child I was emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychically, and financially abused, at such times it is easier for me to forgive myself of all my mistakes, the things that I so much regret now. Acts, that, out of my own ignorance as well as contemporary trends and indoctrination into a secular world leading to hell, severely amputated my ability to lead a happy, prosperous, and productive life.

    True, nobody was actually holding an ax over my head to be as destructive to myself as I was, but if the abuse of the narcissist had manifested as stripes, bruises, soars, broken bones, blood, sweat, and tears, it would have been interesting to learn who in my sphere of acquaintance would have shown genuine concern and compassion.

    What is most insidious about the heartbreaking epidemic of gaslighting is that most people don’t realize they are being gaslighted until it is way too late — until the tyrants have taken complete control no matter the cost. Anything to get what THEY want. The tyrants are never people who believe in God though so many of them pretend to.

    Cynthia, what you say about your guidance counselor marginalizing your confidence reminds me of something a teacher I very much admired once did to me. Now and then she would make subtle comments that engendered my trust in her, so I thought that she understood me and that I could trust her.

    One day she took me aside and told me that people are afraid of me. That was all she said. To this day I still don’t know what to do with that, though believe it or not, I still exchange Christmas cards with her each year. Only over the past year or so, especially since visiting Cynthia’s blog, have I often revisited that memory and each time am more puzzled by what she hoped to achieve by such an admonishment. Someday I might ask her, God willing.

    I guess the secret to our healing is to not pick the scab!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Your “raw reality” is absolutely true!!

      If the abuse narcissists inflicted only showed on the outside, I think people would be much more compassionate towards those of us who have suffered their abuse. But, there isn’t any real signs of the damage they cause. Our dysfunctional behavior is much easier to label by toxic people as crazy, stupid, immoral, wrong, blah blah blah… better to label us than to admit narcissists are what they are for some, I suppose.

      Interesting what your teacher said to you. I’d love to know why she said that as well. So odd. Yanno.. obviously not all but some teachers are narcissistic. Narcissists are drawn to helping professions & that includes teachers. Do you think your teacher fits the criteria for narcissism?

      Liked by 2 people

      • annealcroft

        “Our dysfunctional behavior is much easier to label by toxic people as crazy, stupid, immoral, wrong, blah blah blah… better to label us than to admit narcissists are what they are for some, I suppose.”

        *giggle* Yup, the blah blah blah pretty much says it all! The cruel tactics the toxic people use to send us to the margins of existence are ruthless, yet they are always people who can dish it out but can’t take it.

        About “some teachers” being narcissists? I would wager a pari-mutuel that most of them are. Narcissists gravitate toward positions where they can have complete control over souls of those who are vulnerable to their predatory tactics. They are like vampires and that is how they get their narcissistic supply.

        Where I really saw that dynamic at work was within the faculty of professors in college. It is very difficult to remember one of my professors who now I could say was not a narcissist. Some were worse than others, but they all showed not just mild, but pronounced acts of narcissism that qualified in many ways as abuse. That was particularly challenging because it thwarted any kind of freedom to exercise my creative faculties. 90sAs a result, I constantly felt that I needed to defend and protect my aesthetic sensibilities and my creativity the extent of feeling intimidated by them.

        Because of that, I have often felt that I have grounds for legal recourse against my “alma mater.”

        This makes for a very interesting discussion, Cynthia. Thanks for opening this very important issue up because I am afraid many children are victimized by narcissistic teachers and professors with agendas of their own that they must carry out no matter the cost to others, especially their students who tend to largely be their guinea pigs, not disciples.

        Like

        • annealcroft

          ooops! Those poltergeists in cyberspace! Have no idea where that “90s” came from! Guess just thinking about this rattles my bones!

          >(90s)As a result, I constantly felt that I needed to defend and protect my aesthetic sensibilities and my creativity the extent of feeling intimidated by them.

          Like

        • I tend to agree about teachers. I have had some wonderful ones but they truly are in the minority.

          Liked by 1 person

          • annealcroft

            Well said. Thinking back, it was mostly the “old timers,” the teachers whose hearts were really in their vocation, that were actually quite dear. My first grade teacher, for example, wrote on my report card that my “little fingers have wings.” How sweet is that?

            While on the other hand, when I was in 5th grade, I wrote a report and drew the cover in colored pencil and, to this day, if I do say so myself, my artwork and the report excelled for a child around 9 years old. My teacher, who obviously did not do her research on the subject I wrote about, wrote big in red pen right across the middle of my drawing, ‘WORD MISSPELLED THROUGHOUT REPORT.” It was NOT. When I brought in the books I used for research, including the World Book Encyclopedia, though there was egg all over her face, it never occurred to her to offer an apology. She, in my book, was a witch.

            Her daughter was my age and in the same class. Not all that long ago I learned from another classmate that this teacher’s daughter had “gone over the edge” radically.

            So another story…

            Today, one gal in particular in my sphere of acquaintances who is now a teacher is one of the most malignant narcissists I know. When she first began her teaching career she thought nothing of buttonholing me, either by emails or, if I was working in my yard (which most often I am) walking by my house so she could stop and “chat.” She’d unload on me sometimes for over an hour about how horrible the kids were, how out-of-control and unengaged the parents were, how cut-throat her colleagues were, blah blah blah. Within two years she quit three different jobs. While it seemed obvious to me she had chosen a vocation she was not cut out for, I tried to listen and offer detached insight as best I could.

            At first she would thank me and say something like, “Oh, you’re so wise.” The little by little, I could detect that she maybe didn’t like what I had to say because I tried to point out to her that there are things in life that are NOT within our control nor should they be. Additionally, the spiritual well-being of my students would come first, not trying to coerce and control them to “respond” to me the way I thought they should!

            Alas, when she became outright indignant with me one day I asked her, point blank, “What is it that you think I can possibly do to help you?” She became enraged! “I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP!!!” she spouted. Haven’t seen hide nor hair of her since.

            What is most malignant is the way in which the narcissist sugar coats their actions to hypnotize their prey. They first come across as committed, devoted, concerned people, while their ulterior motive is to be in absolute control of their surroundings and everyone caught in their web of egotism.

            Here I share a video that so perfectly nails how this gal operates it is uncanny. Watch and then decide if you would want her as your teacher, or teaching your kids!

            Liked by 1 person

    • ibikenyc

      I am so sorry you went through this, annealcroft 😦

      I, too, would love to know why she said that to you. However, for what it’s worth, I can also easily see it as “just” another bit of gaslighting. Like, maybe she heard it somewhere and thought it would be interesting to see how and how much it made you “dance.”

      I also was brutalized by a teacher, in the third grade. The scars are thick and deep.

      Liked by 2 people

      • annealcroft

        “I also was brutalized by a teacher, in the third grade. The scars are thick and deep.”

        Thank you for your wise insight. I think you’re quite right that she did hear that from someone and wanted to pull my strings. Well, woe to her! I

        I was in 7th grade when that happened. You were only about 8 years old! At that very vulnerable age, when we are already so bruised and hurting, trying to trust adults in our sphere of relationships, the deliberate abuse of an authority figure other than our parents such as a teacher is a mortal sin.

        Jesus says, explicitly, “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6).

        Yes, the scars seem to be indelible, but in time, as we heal we notice them less.

        Liked by 1 person

        • ibikenyc

          Thank you for your kind words 🙂

          Seventh grade is puberty / adolescence, so just as damaging, although maybe in different ways.

          Overboard with a millstone sounds about right.

          Like

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