Extremely dysfunctional people often have a very bad habit. They find ways to blame the innocent for cruelty or even abuse others inflict on them. These are the people who ask someone what they said to make their spouse hit them, criticize a woman’s choice of clothing on the day someone raped her, or say things like, “I don’t know why you two just can’t get along” in a shaming tone when someone says their elderly parent is abusive. They also may minimize the trauma, invalidate the person’s feelings about it or even deny it happened altogether.
This bad habit isn’t simply dysfunctional for the person who behaves this way. It’s also exceedingly cruel to the people they say such comments to & treat so poorly. Saying such things is shaming, & it implies someone deserves whatever trauma has happened to them, brought the abuse on themselves & are to blame for not turning an abusive relationship into a good one. Of course, such words aren’t spoken directly, but the implications are still there. To someone who has suffered trauma & is in the vulnerable position of admitting that to someone else, this behavior can make a person feel ashamed for suffering, not preventing the trauma or even bringing it on themselves. Minimizing, invalidating & denying trauma also are cruel, because they make a person feel ashamed of themselves for feeling as they do. They feel they are wrong, flawed or even crazy when subjected to someone who minimizes, invalidates & denies the trauma.
When a dysfunctional person treats an innocent person this way, they have their own reasons for doing so, & those reasons are never healthy.
This person may be on good terms with the abuser, & doesn’t want to think they could be so close to someone who is so cruel. Admitting someone you think highly of is in reality a toxic monster isn’t exactly pleasant of course. Blaming someone for making the person they care about behave badly is much easier for people like this to handle.
Some are simply cowardly. To support victims, you have to do things. You offer them compassion, caring, kindness, & support. You listen to their horror stories because it helps them to talk about it. Blaming an innocent person makes what happened to them something they deserved, & in that case, they don’t deserve any of the things that victims deserve. It’s much easier than supporting someone who has been traumatized.
Some of these extremely dysfunctional people have experienced their own trauma, & you facing your trauma offends them. It reminds them of pain they want to forget, which makes them extremely uncomfortable. Or, they see you facing your pain & feel cowardly for not facing their own. They don’t take this as a sign that it’s time to start facing their pain. Instead they try to shut down the victim. That is why they say such cruel things. Their goal is to stop this person from making them feel things that they have worked very hard to avoid feeling. Shaming someone is a very quick & effective way to accomplish that.
If you have experienced being treated this way, my heart goes out to you. It’s not fair or right in any way. Please never forget though that it has absolutely nothing to do with you. There is nothing wrong with you for wanting to discuss what happened to you. There is, however, something very wrong with someone who is willing to treat someone who has been traumatized so poorly. Don’t let their dysfunction determine how you feel about what happened to you. You know the truth about the situation. You were there. You lived through that & are living with the aftermath of it. The cruel person who treated you so badly wasn’t. This means they don’t know nearly as much as they think they do, so why would you seriously consider anything they have to say on the matter? There is no good reason to!
Rather than taking their cruelty to heart, ignore them. Focus on taking good care of yourself & your healing, & leave the dysfunctional to their dysfunction.