If you have been subjected to abuse, chances are excellent you’ve heard the phrase, “hurting people hurt people.” And, my guess is when you first heard this phrase, you immediately felt badly for being upset about being abused. Either you felt guilt for being upset, because the abuser is wounded & has no control over acting out of those wounds or downright shame for your feelings. I have felt that shame so I understand! I also can tell you that there is no reason to feel that guilt or shame! That phrase is a lie!
Saying that hurting people hurt people assumes all who have been abused have zero control over their reactions. Abusers are absolved of any & all guilt with this phrase, & that is completely wrong! There are very few people who truly are unaware of the differences between right & wrong. Most people are aware of the differences. Narcissists are aware, too. The difference is they don’t care what is right & wrong. They only care about what they want. They shouldn’t be lumped into the same category as those who are so damaged they truly don’t recognize the difference between right & wrong.
Another problem with claiming that hurting people hurt people is that it means their victims can’t be angry at being abused. How absurd is that?! No matter the circumstances of the abuse, abuse is wrong & every single person who has been abused should be angry about the wrongness of what was perpetrated on them! People need to have a healthy anger at things that are wrong & cruel, because not to feel that anger normalizes the behaviors, & such things never should be normalized!
I do realize that many narcissists come from a place of being traumatized & abused. My narcissistic mother was one of them. Her narcissistic mother was abusive to her until she died when my mother was in her 60’s, her mother in her 80’s. My mother’s pain isn’t solely responsible for her narcissism, however. I think it started that just ball rolling. She adapted narcissistic behaviors when she was a child as a way to cope with her pain & gain attention. However, I also believe she, like many other narcissists who experienced similar circumstances, shut down the natural empathy that most people are born with by ignoring any guilt for her hurtful actions. The more a person does this, the less affected they become by the pain & suffering of other people. They lose their empathy & become full fledged narcissists who enjoy hurting & manipulating other people. People who do this shouldn’t be given a free pass to be abusive because they were abused! Many people have suffered abuse yet turned out to be good, caring, kind & empathic people.
And lastly, the final problem I have with this phrase is that it shuts down victims. It makes people feel as if they can’t be angry with their abusers because that poor person was hurting, too, & they didn’t have any better way to deal with their pain. That is completely unfair! Victims never should be shut down from discussing their traumatic experiences! Discussing such events is helpful when it comes to coping with pain & healing from it as well as helping other people. There is no valid reason a person should be made to feel as if they need to stop discussing their trauma! Many people who make others feel that way only do so because they are uncomfortable. Either they don’t want to hear about it because it makes them think less of the abuser they are so fond of, or they are reminded of their own pain that they are too cowardly to face. Neither situation is healthy & both situations are cruel to victims of abuse!
If you come across anyone who tells you “hurting people hurt people” when you mention your traumatic experiences, then I hope & pray you will remember what I have said & that it empowers you. Don’t feel guilty or stop discussing your experiences! While it’s best to stop discussing them with unhealthy people, that doesn’t mean you should be quiet. Set the world on fire with your story! You will heal while also helping others to heal!