Living through narcissistic abuse is a horrific experience that no one should have to endure. As if that isn’t bad enough, many victims open up to their family about their experiences & are met with unbelief, blame, shaming comments, denial & more. Their family members say that they should forgive & forget, get over it, & other invalidating comments. It’s so shocking when you expect support & love & are met with these terrible reactions. As if this wasn’t enough, many families offer unconditional love & support to the abuser while shunning the victim.
The vast majority of my family never cared that my parents were abusive to me. They ignored signs when I was a child. As an adult, they told me things like I needed to get over my childhood hurts, I only get one set of parents & I needed to fix the relationship with my parents. No doubt many of you can relate.
Victims often wonder why their family acts this way. I have some ideas why. By explaining the behavior, I am certainly NOT excusing it. There is no valid reason to treat a victim this way. I am simply trying to show victims that the people who say such comments are incredibly dysfunctional & should be ignored not believed.
Denial is the main reason families reject victims & support abusers. Who wants to accept the fact that someone they love in their own family is capable of horrible acts?! No one. Many people do it anyway. Many other people lack the courage to face that ugly truth. Also, by denying the abuse, they can have a clear conscience when it comes to failing to help or protect the victim. If the abuse didn’t happen, even only in their mind, then they did nothing wrong. Lastly, many of these people care a great deal about the abuser. Narcissists can be quite charming & likeable. These people believe this act is the real person & become so enchanted with that false persona, they will reject anything that threatens it which includes someone claiming that person isn’t the perfect person they present themselves as.
Many of these abuse defenders have abuse in their own past. For every victim of abuse who confronts their pain & works on healing, there are other victims who don’t have the courage to do the same. They pretend they weren’t abused, pushing all memories as far away from them as they can so as to avoid their pain. When you face your pain, those people are reminded of theirs, especially if the abuse had similarities. Facing your pain makes them feel badly for not facing theirs as well as reminds them of their own pain. Since they don’t want to be reminded of their own pain, they will do their best to shut you down quickly.
Some abuse defenders are also abusive narcissists. Abusers don’t want to admit any behavior is abusive. It means admitting to themselves that they too are abusers, & what they are doing is wrong. While narcissists lack the empathy to care about the pain & suffering they cause their victims, they do care about what others think of them. To be known as an abuser tarnishes their reputation, which is something they wish to avoid at all costs.
Many abuse defenders benefit from befriending the narcissist. Immediately after my mother died, I learned she sent one of my aunts money monthly. I was stunned! They never got along & my mother often had complained of my aunt’s lack of money management skills as well as her expectations of others to bail her out every time she got herself into trouble. I can only assume her benefiting from my mother is why she was such a staunch defender of my parents. There are many others in similar situations who like my aunt, refuse to chance losing their benefits from the narcissist & prefer to throw their victims under the bus.
When you are in such a situation, I hope you keep this information in mind. When your family dismisses your valid claims of abuse, the problem definitely isn’t you. It’s them!