Abuse victims don’t have it easy. Contrary to what many people think, the abuse doesn’t end when the victim either leaves the relationship or their abuser dies. Far from it. There are many who live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or more commonly, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Both are horrible & potentially life ending disorders since many who suffer this way commit suicide. You would think this would be bad enough, but it gets even worse. Many people who have survived abuse are further abused when they have the courage to tell other people about it.
If you have told people of your experiences with an abuser, maybe you simply don’t realize how other people can abuse a victim who opens up about their story. In all fairness, it can be very hard to recognize at first! When subjected to narcissistic abuse, any other abuse can be hard to identify. That doesn’t make these things less wrong, however. You need to be aware that there are many ways to abuse, including subtle ways. The more you know, the more you can protect yourself!
Possibly the most common way victims are further abused is by minimizing or even denying the abuse. Many people don’t want to deal with stories of abuse. Maybe they are the type who think that is being “too negative”. Maybe they have their own history of abuse & can’t stand listening to others’ stories because it reminds them of their own pain. Maybe they’re close to your abuser & refuse to see this person as anything less than wonderful. In any case, minimizing & denying abuse is cruel & it is abusive!
When the abuser is a shared family member, people often deal with this situation terribly, even in abusive ways. No one wants to admit that their favorite relative is an abusive monster. Certainly that is understandable. What is not understandable is how people react in this situation. Many relatives will abuse a victim by shunning them by refusing to include them on family gatherings while rallying around the abuser. There are others who not only deny the abuse allegations but sit the victim near their abuser at family gatherings. Others tell victims things like, “That is a serious accusation.” Or, “Are you SURE that is how it happened?” Such comments are invalidating & abusive.
A very common way victims are abused is when they tell someone about the abuse, that person says they refuse to take sides, want to remain neutral or don’t want to get involved. Neutrality helps abusers. It enables them to continue to abuse without fear of consequences. Naturally, by default, this means that victims are hurt by neutrality. Victims need someone to stand up for them, to confront abusers or at the very least, to say, “This is wrong!” Such things don’t happen when people try to be neutral or refuse to get involved, which makes neutrality abusive.
Another common way victims are abused is when people they tell about the abuse judge them. Everyone judges others to some degree. There is nothing wrong with deciding if a person is safe or not, shares your life views or religious values. What is wrong is when people judge another person’s healing journey. Healing from abuse is very unique to each individual person. No one who is trying their best to heal from abuse does it right & no one does it wrong. Many people fail to recognize this, however, & judge victims harshly & cruelly. They are judged for not “getting over it” fast enough, for not “forgiving & forgetting” & other nonsense. This is abusive, cruel & just wrong all around. People who are healing need mercy & understanding, not judgment.
If any of these things have happened to you, please try to remember that these behaviors are abusive. You have nothing to be ashamed of, you aren’t doing things wrong & you have every right to heal however works best for you. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise!