Tag Archives: invalidating

When People Say Things They Shouldn’t To Abuse Victims

Admitting you were abused or hearing stories by other people of abuse they endured is very uncomfortable & unpleasant.  No one wants to talk about abuse.  I sure don’t!  I’d love to write about more pleasant topics & never think about the abuse I endured ever again.  Yet, I know this is impossible.  Even if I quit writing about it, the aftermath of abuse never goes away.  It’s always there to some degree, so talking about it is normal.  Most people talk about abuse in their past either slightly, a lot like me or mostly somewhere in between.

Anyone who has decided to open up about abuse has learned that not everyone is a willing, compassionate listener.  When you gather your courage to discuss the most painful experiences of your life only to be met with invalidation, it can be incredibly painful.  I hope to help you learn some ways to cope with that in this post by sharing some common comments people make to abuse survivors.

“Why didn’t you tell anyone?”  Many people who haven’t survived abuse don’t understand why a victim wouldn’t reach out for help.  It’s totally acceptable to educate anyone who asks this question.  Abusers threaten their victims to keep quiet.  They also tell their victims no one will believe them.  They even destroy their victim’s self esteem to the point the victim believes no one would care anyway, so there isn’t a point in telling anyone.

“You shouldn’t talk about this.  It’s not the Christian thing to do, making him/her look bad.”  People who say this are often also survivors of abuse, yet who lack the courage to face their pain.  Others facing their pain makes these folks feel badly, so they try to shut down the open person.  Often, there is no getting through to these people, so it is best not to discuss abuse with them.  It is vital to know though that there is nothing “un-Christian” about discussing your experiences.  You aren’t making the abuser look bad.  The abuser already did that by being abusive.

“Are you really sure that’s what happened?”  This comment is often said by someone who knows both victim & abuser.  This is said by someone who really doesn’t want to accept that someone they care about is capable of such awful behavior.  It also is said by a narcissist’s flying monkey who is trying to instill doubt in the victim so they tolerate more abuse from the narcissist.  Take this comment as a red flag that the person saying it is NOT safe!  Don’t discuss your experiences with this person.  Doing so only will lead to you being hurt, possibly also being the victim of a smear campaign.

“Nobody’s parents are perfect,” “No one gets along perfectly with their parents,” or “Everyone has childhood hurts.”  When a person says these statements, it hurts.  They are lumping vicious abuse in the same category as simple personality differences.  So invalidating!!  Shock value can make a person realize how foolish their words are.  Saying something like, “So my mother berating me to the point of obliterating my self esteem while I was a child is the same as another mother not letting her child wear a certain shirt to school?  That’s what it sounds like you’re saying, & I disagree with you.”

“Stop thinking about it” or “Stop dwelling in the past!”  Wouldn’t it be nice if it was that easy?!  Again, it’s acceptable to educate whoever asks this question.  Tell them that C-PTSD & PTSD are common after abuse, & are brought on by experiencing such horrific trauma, it literally broke a person’s brain.  A quality these disorders share is constantly reliving the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares & intrusive thoughts.  Not thinking about things is impossible when your brain won’t let you.

“Why would you talk about this now, all this time later?”  When in the midst of suffering abuse, the victim is busy trying to survive.  Talking about it at the time rarely seems important.  Once the victim is safe, survival mode ends & this person can think clearer.  They often try to process what they just escaped by talking about it.  Or, they are triggered by something… a sound, smell, someone that reminds them of their abuser in some way.  Not a lot of people are aware of this, & that may be the case with the person who says this to you.  Tell him or her.

“You’ll get over it,” “It could’ve been so much worse!” or, “Look for the positive in everything!”  Such comments are what I think of as toxic positivity.  While it is good to be positive, too positive is unhealthy.  It’s unrealistic which easily can lead to disappointment.  Comments like this also make a victim feel ashamed for still being affected by the trauma or needing to discuss it in order to heal.  Don’t waste your time talking about past trauma to people like this.  You’ll only end up hurt by their calloused words.

“At least he/she didn’t hit you!”  A common belief is that the only type of abuse is physical.  Anyone subjected to narcissistic abuse knows this is utter nonsense.  Emotional, mental, sexual, financial & spiritual abuse are all horrific forms of abuse.  They simply don’t leave the clearly visible scars that physical abuse does.  The uneducated need to be aware of this, including the person who says this to you..  You can also tell them that PTSD & C-PTSD are physical damage done to the brain by exposure to abuse & trauma.

“What did you do to make him/her treat you that way?”  This invalidating & shaming statement is so common!  It makes victims feel responsible for the terrible things their abuser did to them, & that is utterly wrong!  No one can make another person abuse them, period, no matter what they do or don’t do.  Did Jack the Ripper’s victims do anything to make him kill them?  What about Ted Bundy’s victims?  No.  These men saw an opportunity & took advantage of it.  Their victims did nothing to deserve what these killers did to them.  This is a point which you can bring up to the person who says such a disgusting statement.

“You should be more patient with him/her!”  No.  Just no.  The more patient you are with an abuser, the more they will abuse you because they see that you will tolerate a lot.  It could help to ask this person why should anyone be understanding with someone who repeatedly hurts them & shows no desire to improve their behavior?

“You should be more careful when picking your romantic partners!”  This statement is nothing but victim blaming.  What the heartless person saying this fails to realize yet needs to know is abusers can come across any way they like – very charming, kind, compassionate, romantic, successful.  They rarely are abusive monsters 24/7.  If they were, no one would get involved with them because it would be clear what they were really like.  They lure victims in by appearing to be much better people than they truly are.  While this seems like common sense, unfortunately it isn’t.  The person who says this statement to you needs to be educated!  Tell them this!

Unfortunately, there always will be people who don’t understand what it’s like to survive abuse.  There also will be people who want to silence victims, no matter how much or little they discuss their experiences.  The more you heal, the less these people will bother you, I’m happy to say.  I also hope this post has helped you to learn some ways to deal with these people!  xoxo

9 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

Validating Yourself

Everyone needs validation. It’s simply a built in human need that God gave us all.

For those of us who survived narcissistic abuse, invalidation was a way of life, so it’s only natural that we crave validation more than the average person. We want to be heard & understood for a change! The problem with this is so many people don’t offer us the validation we crave. Instead, they make excuses for the narcissist, don’t want to listen to our stories or tell us things like we’re just angry, we need to let it go or other similar heartless comments.

You also can’t count on gaining validation from your abuser. It is the very rare abusive person who goes to a victim, admits that what they did was wrong, ask for forgiveness & makes appropriate changes in their behavior. Sure, some do apologize at some point, but their failure to change their behavior & either accept full responsibility or failure to stop blaming others for their behavior proves that they aren’t being genuine. The abusive behavior will continue & they don’t care about the pain & suffering they caused victims. They only apologize as an attempt to pacify a victim, not because they want to improve the relationship.

Situations like these are a very good reminder that you can’t rely on getting all the validation you need from outside sources. People are flawed, & they will fail to give you the validation you want & need sometimes. You have to learn to validate yourself instead of relying on others, which is where your healing truly begins.

As always I recommend starting this with prayer. Ask God to help you to learn how to validate yourself, rely less on validation from outside sources & even to give you validation.

You also need to accept the fact people won’t always give you the validation you need. Remind yourself often that people aren’t perfect, & they will fail you sometimes. It’s just a part of life. It doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care or they don’t love you. They are simply flawed human beings like every single other human being.

You also need to accept that your abuser won’t accept responsibility for the pain he or she caused you either. That type of validation most likely never will happen. You know what happened, & that truly is good enough. Even if no one else believes you, it really can be enough when you know the truth.

What people often refer to as feeling sorry for yourself is what I think of as showing yourself compassion, & it’s something you need to do. You have been through some pretty bad things, & it’s ok to admit that both to others & to yourself. Stop minimizing your experiences & your pain! You’re only invalidating yourself by doing that!

Never compare your situation to others. Doing so often leads to thoughts like, “Well that person had it way worse than me. I shouldn’t complain.” That is so wrong & also very self invalidating! Don’t do it! Trauma is trauma. So what if someone went through worse things than you did? You went through much worse than someone else did, too. Does any of that make any difference? You need to focus on your situation & ways to heal, not whether it’s better or worse than other people’s situations.

Stop judging your feelings, too. After abuse, it’s only natural to be angry or sad sometimes. It’s natural to have ruminating thoughts about certain especially painful situations or to wonder why the abuser did what they did to you. Don’t criticize yourself for thinking these things. Accept that they’re just a normal part of the healing journey.

With a little time & practice, you can learn to be your own best “validator.” You won’t regret learning this skill. In fact, I’m certain you’ll be glad you did! xoxo

21 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

If Someone Hasn’t Proven Themselves Safe, They May Be Proving Themselves Dangerous

I was thinking about something not long ago. In October, 2017, my father died. His final twenty days, he was in the hospital, connected to a ventilator. We were no contact by this time, so my “family” decided that not only did they need to tell me this, they needed to harass & try to bully me into saying goodbye multiple times a day, every day.


I deleted & blocked access to the worst of the worst of my relatives, the ones who constantly bothered me. Some others I left the door open for contact. We remained Facebook friends & I didn’t block their phone numbers back then. Not one of them contacted me during that time or after my father’s passing.


At the time, I thought their behavior meant they were safe, but I later realized something. Although they hadn’t proven themselves to be completely toxic & unsafe, they also hadn’t proven themselves safe either.


In situations where you are unsure about whether or not a person is safe, it’s very important to figure the issue out!


Sometimes you simply don’t know a person very well, so they don’t feel comfortable discussing certain topics with you. In all fairness, that could have been the situation with my relatives. I never was very close with most people in my family, so I didn’t know them terribly well. Anyway the closeness or lack thereof in the relationship should be taken into consideration when attempting to decide if a person is truly safe or unsafe.


If the person in question is a relative, I feel it can be important to know their immediate family & the relationship they have with them. That can be very telling. In my situation, the people were part of a branch of the family that was pretty enmeshed with each other. No one spoke up to their mother. Whatever she wanted, thought or believed was right, period. In fact, I saw only one person stand up to her one time about what I thought was a trivial matter & oddly, she never said anything in return. The incident did show me how much anger this person had inside, though, which unsettled me.


If the immediate family of the person in question is dysfunctional, you can guarantee the person also will be. The type of dysfunction is very important. Someone can be dysfunctional but trying to heal & change while also being kind & gentle. Yet, other dysfunctional people can be oblivious to just how dysfunctional they are, & they live their life out of that dysfunction, causing pain & chaos to others. This is how my family members are. They think they are functional & pretend any past trauma never happened. They live in their dysfunction in a self righteous manner. A person who doesn’t face their own dysfunction like this is going to be toxic to others to some degree. They may be invalidating to someone who mentions past trauma, saying things like it wasn’t so bad or it’s in the past so you need to let it go. Or, they may be outright cruel & say or do whatever they can to shut that person down. Clearly, people like this are unsafe & need to be avoided!


Another thing to consider.. if the person in question is close to someone who is actively abusive to you, it’s a very safe bet whatever you say to them will get back to the active abuser. It may simply be said in passing without ill intent, or it may be very deliberate on their part. Either way, abusers have absolutely NO need to know anything whatsoever about the people they abuse. Chances are they will use the information to cause suffering to their victim. Even if they don’t, I believe their toxic behavior has caused them to lose all right to know anything about their victim. So, even if the person doesn’t show obvious signs of being toxic, at the very least, it is likely they will mention you to your abuser.


I hope these tips will help you to surround yourself with only safe, good people! xoxo

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

How People Revictimize Survivors Of Narcissistic Abuse

Leave a comment

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

When People Invalidate Your Pain

Today’s post is a reminder for everyone who has been invalidated…

Your pain is real, & there is nothing wrong with you for feeling that pain.  You aren’t crazy, stupid, weak, “wallowing”, living in the past, looking for attention or whatever other invalidating things you have been told.  You have no reason to feel shame for what you’re feeling.  Other people have no right to judge you.  They aren’t you & they haven’t experienced the things that you have experienced.  How can they say that you should or shouldn’t feel what you feel?!  They can’t!

You, Dear Reader, are just fine.  I know it may not feel that way, but it’s true.

Anyone who has survived narcissistic abuse is going to have some issues as a result.  It’s just what happens due to the horrible nature of the abuse.  Admittedly it, well, it sucks, but it’s also unavoidable.  People lacking compassion & empathy fail to understand this.  Or, they may see you dealing with your own pain & it serves as a reminder of their pain that they are working hard to ignore.  That is why many people invalidate others- to shut them down so they don’t have to face their own issues & pain.

You’ve survived a lot, & if others can’t understand that or feel they must hurt you for it, they obviously have some problems!  You hold your head up high & ignore the invalidating jerks!  You go on, doing what you need to do to heal, & pay no attention to the invalidators of the world.  You have survived so much, you can survive a person who doesn’t possess the humanity to display basic respect & love for a fellow human being!

2 Comments

Filed under Narcissism

Types Of Invalidation

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

 

If you have been in an abusive relationship of any type- whether the relationship was emotionally, physically, sexually or narcissistic abusive- then you have experienced invalidation.  Invalidation is when your feelings are mocked, judged or rejected.  It is done  to make you feel as if you are wrong, weird, abnormal or extremely flawed.  It is done in order to gain control.  When invalidation is done in childhood, the child grows up not trusting her feelings, & lacking in self confidence.

 

There are many ways to invalidate someone.  Some examples are:

  • Telling someone not to feel the way they do.
  • Calling someone harsh names like oversensitive, drama queen, worry wort, crybaby, etc.
  • Mocking someone for feeling a certain way.
  • Leading one to believe there is something wrong with them for feeling as they do.
  • Telling someone to look differently (example: “Stop looking so sad”).
  • Minimizing another’s feelings.
  • Isolating another, such as saying “No one else would be bothered by this- what’s wrong with you?”
  • Defending those who hurt or abuse you.

 

I believe there are other ways to invalidate someone that are much more subtle & insidious, & they do just as much harm as the more overt types of invalidating.  Unfortunately, they seem to be so commonplace in society that I don’t believe many people even pay them any attention.  Some examples are:

  • Not asking someone “how are you?” during the course of a conversation.  This clearly says, “I really don’t care how you’re doing.”  Granted during times of crisis, many people simply forget to ask another this question due to being caught up in the trying situation.  However, many people do this on a regular basis, no matter what the circumstances are.
  • Talking nonstop about yourself.  This sends the message, “I am much more important than you!  Don’t waste my time talking to me about you!”  In a healthy relationship, there are times where it is one-sided.  One friend is going through a crisis & the other friend is offering a listening ear & support.  That happens sometimes & is completely normal.  What is not normal, however, is when one person only talks about himself or herself & doesn’t care enough to ask the other person questions about his/her life.  This is a red flag for narcissistic personality disorder!
  • Interrupting constantly.  Not only is it rude, but it tells the other person that what you have to say is really much more important, & they need to just stop talking.
  • Changing the topic of conversation frequently when someone else is talking.  Is what you have to say so vitally important that you can’t let the other person finish what he or she is saying?  Does what you have to say need to be said right this moment?  If not, then let the other person have their say.
  • Offering unasked for advice & opinions.  This is a major pet peeve of mine.  It is rude & presumptuous, & it sends the message that the one giving the advice or offering the opinion is much smarter than the person receiving it.  It’s hurtful!  Are your thoughts really so valuable that the other person simply can’t go on living without hearing them?
  • If you don’t agree with someone’s opinion or support them, keep that to yourself or express it in a respectful way when the time is appropriate.  This is something I deal with often with having C-PTSD, & it really is frustrating!  People who don’t understand this disorder or want to learn anything about it often think it means I am dwelling in the past, unforgiving, not thinking positively, etc.  Hearing statements like these hurt me greatly, because not only are people who say such things are trivializing the potentially life-threatening disorder I live with daily & the trauma I have endured, but they are also acting as if I am stupid for not seeing what they believe to be an obvious easy solution to this problem.  This insensitivity doesn’t just pertain to mental disorders, though.  Politics is another topic where I see this happening.  So many people have extremly strong feelings on politics, & believe that if other people don’t share their views, they are stupid, naive, foolish, etc. & don’t mind letting those people know that.  It is ridiculous!  People have different views- what is the problem with that?  Everyone is entitled to their opinion & to have it respected.  If you can’t understand someone’s opinion or painful situation, how about trying to understand it?  Or at least not judge or criticize them if you absolutely can’t understand.

 

I would like to encourage you to please consider your actions.  Don’t invalidate others or tolerate it from other people!  It is painful & frustrating to experience, not to mention invalidation tears away at one’s self-confidence.  When it happens often, it makes you feel as if you don’t matter to anyone, & that your thoughts & feelings are unimportant, wrong or even flawed beyond repair.  No one should experience that pain!

More information regarding invalidation (including a free ebook on the topic) is available at my website, http://www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism