Many victims of abuse are quick to deny that they are actually being abused or have been abused. A woman may defend her husband who beat her up saying she deserved it because she didn’t do something he wanted her to do, or he had too much to drink before he hit her. A man is even more likely to deny being abused, thanks to the ridiculous attitude society has that women can’t abuse men. Many men would rather convince themselves it wasn’t abuse than to deal with the disrespect & disdain they will receive if they admit it was.
Unfortunately such denials are normal for many victims of abuse. I did it myself. Growing up, I told myself & others my mother was simply overprotective of me, & my father needed me to take care of him rather than him take care of me. I was in my late teens when I realized my mother wasn’t simply overprotective, & about thirty years old when I realized my father was abusive.
I thought today it would be a good idea to spell out some facts about abuse that are commonly ignored, minimized or denied to help people to face the truth about abuse in their life. I know this is a painful thing to face, but it truly is better to face it! Once you face it, you can start to heal. The pain you feel at facing the truth is absolutely going to be worth it when you can heal.
It’s still abuse if it wasn’t physical. Abuse comes in many forms. Someone can abuse you even if he or she never hit you. Harsh words, criticisms, intimidation, invalidation, mind games, forcing you to perform sexual acts in spite of you not wanting to, isolating you from friends & family, controlling your money, & twisting Scripture to claim God is angry with you are all examples of abusive behavior that is not physical.
It’s still abuse if your abuser apologized. Abusers often apologize, claiming they won’t do what they did ever again. For a while, they don’t. Things are good. Suddenly though, once they believe that you are comfortable again, they go back into old patterns. An apology without genuine efforts to change bad behavior long term is still abuse.
It’s still abuse if your abuser told you they love you. Abusers claim to love their victim. Maybe some do on some level, but that doesn’t mean that abusing you is acceptable just because you think this person may love you.
It’s still abuse if your abuser was abused as a child. The phrase, “hurting people hurt people” is often a lie said by abusers & their enablers as a way to excuse abusive behavior. Countless children have been abused, yet grew up to become kind, compassionate people who would rather do anything but hurt another person.
It’s still abuse if your abuser has a mental illness. There are relatively few people with a mental illness who truly don’t know right from wrong. Unless your abuser is one of those few people, he or she is using mental illness as an excuse to abuse.
It’s still abuse if there were good times in your relationship with your abuser. No relationship is completely abusive. If so, abusers would be much easier to identify. Good times are natural in a relationship with an abuser, but they don’t nullify the abusive behavior.
It’s still abuse if your abuser is your elderly parent. People often are under the delusion that all older folks are sweet & kind, especially to their own family. Nothing could be further from the truth! There are plenty of lovely older folks, but not all of them are. Many of them are as cruel to their adult children as they were when they were younger, they just changed their tactics a bit to adjust with their age.
It’s still abuse if your abuser is a relative. Many people put family on a pedestal, as if it’s impossible for family members to abuse other. I can tell you that this is a complete lie, because I have been abused by several of my family members. Family members can be the worst abusers of all.
If you recognize some of these behaviors in someone that you are in a bad relationship with, then the relationship is abusive. You have the right to protect yourself from this behavior. Exercise that right! Do what you have to in order to protect yourself from this person, even if it means ending the relationship. If you don’t know what to do, pray. Ask God to help you. Learn all you can about toxic relationships. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, join online forums, read books. Do whatever you have to do to learn about your toxic situation so you can formulate a plan on how to deal with the situation.
10 responses to “It’s Still Abuse If..”
Well said. It is a rationalization. If they accept they are being abused, then they need to act to change the paradigm.
Yep! Better (in some people’s minds) to deny abuse & have to change nothing & maintain the status quo
I read this post shortly after you wrote it, and I have been thinking about what you said here. The denial of abuse is common, unfortunately, and it is potentially very dangerous.
In addition to all of your excellent points here in this article, regarding the various reasons or excuses that abuse victims use to deny that they are being abused, I can think of one additional reason: the fear of facing a horrible, unbearable truth. This happened to me, when I was 25 years old. I lived in Illinois at the time, about an hour’s drive north of Chicago. I was working for a custom home builder. My job was to run the office all by myself, answering the phone, taking care of paperwork, and taking any walk-in customers, potential home buyers, on a tour of the model homes. There were about a half dozen big, beautiful model homes all in a row just outside the office where I worked. The homes were near a small lake and surrounded by trees and farmland. This was an expensive new subdivision in a previously rural area, with very little traffic. Most of my days there were very quiet.
In the evening, it was my job to lock up the office, then lock up all of the model homes. One night, right after the autumn time had fallen back, I was locking up in total darkness. After I locked the last house, as I was walking in the dark — there weren’t any streetlights — up the sidewalk toward my car in the otherwise empty parking lot, a car came driving by on the two lane highway. The car stopped, when it was even with me. And then… someone inside that car fired several gunshots in my direction. It sounded like loud fireworks, or like a car backfiring. It was too dark for me to see the person inside the car, or the gun. But I saw the muzzle flashes, with each shot that was fired. It was terrifying!!!!
I ran to my car, as the car on the highway took off in a hurry. I drove home, trying to understand what had just happened. I should have reported this to the police. I also should have reported it to the people I worked for. But, I am ashamed to say that I did neither. I did not go back to that job ever again, but I did not call and tell them the reason why I was a no show. The reason I did not report the shooting to anyone is because I had convinced myself, by the next morning, that those really weren’t gunshots. It was either some kind of fireworks being thrown out of the car — in November! — or the car was having some strange engine trouble that was making it backfire and also produce brief fiery flames.
Which is ridiculous, for several reasons. About a week or so before I was shot at, one day when I was off work and another woman was running the office, a gunshot was fired though one of the model homes, leaving a bullet hole that went through the front wall of the house, through a wall in the center of the house, and exiting through the back wall of the house. When I came back to work, I was immediately told about what had happened, and I saw the bullet holes when I went to open the houses. There was no doubt that a gunshot had been fired through that house, as the woman who was working that day was inside that house at the time, showing it to a couple of potential buyers.
There had recently been an angry home buyer calling and coming into the office several times a day, demanding to know where the builder was. The home buyer was furious, and rightfully so, because he had recently moved into his expensive new house and was having all kinds of problems, such as the toilet upstairs flushing sewage straight through the ceiling below. I told the angry guy that I was trying my best to locate the builder, which was true, but the builder was suddenly nowhere to be found. Maybe that’s why the gunshots happened, I don’t know. But at the time, when the gunshots were being fired in my direction, I was too terrified to acknowledge the truth, that someone was firing a gun at me!
I moved away shortly after this, to Virginia, so I have no idea what else may have happened at that new subdivision. But as I remember this long ago trauma, I hope and pray that no one ended up getting hurt or killed, because I was too much of a chicken to face the truth and go to the police! I was very broken, when I was in my 20s, by all the trauma I had experienced throughout my childhood, my teenage years, and my abusive marriage. Denial was my way of being able to function at that time. But denial is not a healthy way to live your life. In the worst cases, denial can kill you.
What a terrifying experience! I’m so glad you weren’t hurt! (((hugs))) Also glad you learned better than to live in denial like that.
You make an excellent point & I realized I’ve done the same exact thing! Many times actually. So thank you for sharing your experience! I hope it helps others as it helped me! ❤
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Oh… thank you so much for your understanding and kind words. I have grateful tears now. ((HUGS)) back <2
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I bet you do! Realizations like this hurt but are so valuable & even life changing!
Thank you too for sharing.. ❤️
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The more I think about it, part of the problem in my situation is that my mother always used to tell me things like “Don’t be such a big baby!” or “You’re always looking for attention” , when I would come to her with a problem. It didn’t matter how serious my problem was, she would downplay and ignore it. She taught me that my safety wasn’t important, my fears were ridiculous, and my wants and needs were trivial. Her attitude taught me to second guess myself about everything.
It’s also not surprising that I did not report the shooting to the police, when I remember how I was treated when I called the police a few years prior to this, because my husband had beaten me half to death while I was pregnant. The policeman who answered the phone said “What did you do to provoke him?” That’s how a lot of society was, back in the 1970s. My ex used to beat me for the stupidest things, like because my cooking did not taste as good as his mother’s. “What did you do to provoke him?” Yeah, it took a lot of years for me to trust the police, after that.
My mother was that way too. Any problem I had was trivial. (If someone else she wanted to impress had the same problem though. then it was serious. ) It truly does teach you to second guess everything & minimize your own problems.
Whew… that really does teach you that police aren’t trustworthy! I get that.. one officer laughed at me when I said my ex sent his friends to stalk me. When a person you are supposed to be able to trust to protect you (parent or police or anyone really) proves that they won’t protect you, it does quite a number on you!
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I’m sorry you can relate to my painful, invalidating experiences. When I was writing my comment about my mother trivializing my pain, I thought to myself that your mother probably did the same thing. 😦
Thank you. ❤ I'm so sorry we both went through that!
Gee, how'd ya guess?! 🙄
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