Tag Archives: minimizing

When People Blame Others For The Trauma They Experience

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.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism, Personality (including introversion, Myers Briggs, etc.)

The Value Of Appropriate Responsibility

Many people say things absolutely wrong from the perspective of responsibility.  Think of how narcissists apologize, for example.  They say things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way,” which basically makes the victim feel judged & badly for being upset about the abuse that was inflicted on them.  It subtly removes responsibility off the narcissist for being abusive & puts it on the victim for overreacting or being too sensitive.

There are also other less glaringly obvious examples of this behavior that are very common. 

When you apologize, saying, “I’m sorry about that” is pretty vague.  Instead, saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you when I forgot our anniversary” is much better.  Why?  Because it acknowledges the wrong done as well as accepts responsibility for the behavior.  That kind of apology stands a much better chance of gaining forgiveness than a vaguer one does.

It’s also important to use language that isn’t minimizing when discussing abuse.  If you’re confronting your abuser, it makes an impression to tell them, “Screaming at me is unacceptable.  Until you can calm down, talk to me in a normal tone of voice without calling me stupid, I won’t listen to you.”  Saying something like, “You hurt my feelings when you yelled at me & called me names” sounds more like whining, & most abusers won’t listen to that.  It minimizes the abuse & the claims sound vaguer, which give the abuser room to further minimize his or her actions, deny they even happened or even turn the conversation around to you, saying you’re over sensitive or similar nonsense as a way of removing the focus off of them.

Even if you aren’t confronting your abuser, it’s still not a good idea to minimize anything when discussing abuse.  Saying things like, “What happened to me” glosses over the abuse.  It sounds not so bad.  It also sounds like you have some responsibility it it.  Using phrases like, “What was done to me,” or “What they did to me” place the responsibility for what happened to you where it belongs – on your abuser.  This is very important!  Not only does it help people who weren’t abused see that the abuser was responsible for the abuse, but it helps victims as well.  When victims sugar coat the abuse by saying things like, “I was abused” makes them minimize the severity of the events in their mind.  They basically invalidate themselves.  Victims need to be very aware that what happened was terrible & it wasn’t their fault.

If someone tells you that they were abused, then please don’t say things like, “I’m sorry that happened to you.”  That too can be very minimizing.  Instead, say, “I’m so sorry that person did that to you!  That was terrible & wrong, & you didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”  By saying the latter option, you have empowered the victim.  You basically said, “That person did something pretty terrible to you that they shouldn’t have done.  It wasn’t your fault!”  You acknowledge the severity of the situation, & sometimes, victims really need that.  When we see someone other than us is horrified when they find out some of the things done to us. It helps us to take what happened more seriously.  It’s harder to downplay trauma when someone else sees it as traumatic & terrible.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism