Tag Archives: victims

Labeling Victims Of Abuse As Survivors Can Be A Mistake

Many people, even those who have survived narcissistic abuse, look down on anyone who uses the term “victim.”  It seems to offend some people who survived narcissistic abuse to be referred to as a victim, because they prefer to be called a survivor.  Others who haven’t survived narcissistic abuse but still find the term victim offensive seem to look down on anyone who considers herself or himself to be a victim.  They obviously associate the term victim with someone who is weak &/or foolish, as if only weak & foolish people can be abused.  They also seem to think victims are those who wallow in the pain of their trauma, & never move on.  They have PTSD or C-PTSD because they won’t just stop thinking about the trauma.  If they’d just stop thinking about it, they’d be fine!

Whatever the motive, many times victims are pushed & even shamed into referring to themselves as survivors & never victims.  This can be a problem for victims!

There is absolutely no shame in falling prey to an abusive person.  Narcissists are notorious for being phenomenal actors.  They can fool anyone no matter how smart or even how much a person may know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  The more you know, naturally the quicker you can catch onto their behavior, but even so, there is a chance you can be fooled briefly.  I have been & I’ve been studying narcissism since 2011!  Anyway there is truly no shame in being abused.  The only shame in any abusive relationship belongs to the abusive person, never their victim.

Also, putting the survivor label on people can make them feel pressured to heal quickly or even get over the abuse entirely (which is unlikely).  Rushing healing never works out well.  Healing has to be done at its own pace & that pace varies greatly from person to person.  Not to mention, most of the time, it’s a life long process.  Very few people completely “get over” abuse, especially when there is a history of it such as growing up with abusive parents then dating or marrying abusive partners.

I think a lot of times people put the survivor label on victims to make themselves more comfortable.  Maybe it makes them feel that since the person survived, the abuse wasn’t that bad.  If it was someone they knew, this can help them feel better about themselves if they did nothing to help the victim.  Or, maybe it is spoken out of simple ignorance.  They intend to be empowering & comforting yet are unsure how to do it. 

As for those who have been abused, I really believe it should be each person’s preference which label they use, so long as each person accepts the fact that they were victims of an abuser & have no shame for that.  Removing yourself from the abuse by calling yourself a survivor can be empowering to some people, & that is wonderful.  Whatever helps is a good thing! 

For myself, I stick with using the term victim.  I don’t want to sound like I’m looking for pity or attention, because truly that’s not the case.  Instead, by using that term, I’m reminding myself that what happened to me wasn’t my fault.  I was innocent & did nothing to deserve the abuse.  This helps me because my abusers blamed me for their bad behavior.  Even years after, I have moments of slipping back into wondering what I did wrong to make them treat me the way they did.  Thankfully, those moments don’t last long, but they do happen.  Referring to myself as a victim is a little reminder every time I say or write it that what they did to me was their fault, not mine.

However you choose to refer to yourself is up to you.  But please, whether you prefer the term victim or survivor, let it be your choice.  Don’t let anyone pressure you into referring to yourself in a way that you don’t feel comfortable with.

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

When People Refuse To Choose Sides

It seems that so many people, even professing Christians find remaining neutral in conflicts to be an admirable quality.  On the surface, it looks decent enough.  The neutral person may listen to both people in a conflict & offer support to them both.  And in some rare situations, this is good.  Usually maintaining a neutral position isn’t fine though.  In fact, Elie Wiesel, who survived three Nazi death camps & spent his life honoring & speaking for victims of the Holocaust, mentioned this topic.  He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, & during his acceptance speech said many wonderful things.  One part of the speech says, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

Consider being friends with a couple who is getting a divorce.  They are doing so because prior to getting married, they failed to consider some important issues, such as whether or not to have children.  Now that they’re married, they can’t reach an agreement, & have decided it’s best to go their separate ways.  Their divorce is amicable.  Both parties in this situation deserve support because neither is wrong.  They are doing what they think is best for them under the circumstances.

Consider a different angle on this situation.  Instead of the divorce being based on innocent & naïve mistakes on both their parts, imagine one person is abusing the other.  That person is not only unfaithful, but verbally abusive, has ruined the other’s credit, stolen money, isolated them from the people who love them & more.  Then as the icing on the cake, rather than simply walking away, that person fights the divorce, or maybe even tries to take the innocent spouse for whatever money & possessions they have left.  Would you give this abusive, awful person the same compassion & respect as their innocent victim?  I would certainly hope not. 

Yet, people in such situations support abusers like this all of the time.  They don’t do this by openly encouraging the abuser to hurt the victim, but by claiming to remain neutral. 

People who want to remain neutral support abusers by not calling out their bad behavior, even going so far as to protect them from the natural consequences they should receive.  These people may lie to other people to make the abusers look good, even law enforcement.  This behavior shows abusers that they can do whatever they please without fear of repercussions & with unwavering support.  Basically it gives abusers a free pass to abuse whoever in any ways they would like.

These neutral people also tell victims that they don’t want to hear them talk about their abuser because “they won’t take sides”.  They minimize the victim’s pain & deprive them of much needed help & emotional support by remaining neutral.  Victims in this type of situation can be very vulnerable after experiencing so much trauma, & being treated this way affects them very negatively.  Some even become so ashamed of being traumatized that they resume toxic relationships.   Most learn quickly to stop discussing their pain, forcing their emotions deep down inside & avoid dealing with them in a healthy way so those painful emotions manifest in terribly unhealthy ways such as self harm, depression, even suicide.

On a larger scale, being neutral allows all kinds of terrible things to happen in society.  People truly need to be held accountable for bad behavior so they learn not to continue behaving that way.  While most narcissists won’t learn, at least holding them accountable shows them that not everyone is going to tolerate their abuse silently.  Even if their victim doesn’t stand up to them, if someone else does, that still gives them that valuable lesson.  It also shows their victim that someone cares for them, which can be an invaluable lesson to someone who has been told repeatedly they are unworthy of love by a narcissist.

The next time you are in a position of having the choice of remaining neutral or speaking up for victims, then please choose to speak up!  Don’t be stuck feeling like you’re caught in the middle.  You aren’t, no matter who the abuser is!  Make a choice & stand by it! 

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

Trauma Responses & Guilt

Many of us who have experienced trauma experience a lot of guilt about how we responded during a traumatic event.  I have experienced this.  When my mother & I got into an argument & she threw me into a wall when I was 19 in 1990, I blacked out & bit her during the assault.  To this day I remember how shocking it felt to hit the wall then suddenly coming to as she was releasing her hold on me that pinned me to the wall.  And when I came to, I ran from the house & sped away in a cloud of tire smoke.  For many years after, I felt incredibly guilty for the entire event.  Mostly because I bit my mother & she had a scar from that, but also for the fact I gave in to her.  She was itching for a fight the moment I walked in the door after work that evening.  I recognized the look immediately & in spite of knowing nothing about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I knew getting into an argument would result in something bad for me, yet I did it anyway. 

While it may sound ridiculous to you, this triggered an intense amount of guilt in me!  I gave in rather than simply leave which would have been the smart thing to do.  And, thanks to me, my mother had a physical scar.  Horrible!

As you read this, you probably are thinking things like, “But you were only 19!”  “You didn’t know about narcissism!”  “You were defending yourself!”  “You couldn’t move so how else could you defend yourself?”  And you know something?  Those are all correct.  That isn’t how it felt at the time of the incident however, or for over twenty years after it happened.

Do you feel guilt about a response during a traumatic event too?  If so, please show yourself the same mercy you were just willing to show me! 

During trauma, the brain is overridden by survival instincts.  While that is a good thing in the sense that survival instincts will help you to survive, they also may cause you to behave out of the ordinary & in a way that may be embarrassing to you.  Please try to let that go!  Survival instincts are there for a reason.  They help a person to survive.  Whether your instinct is fight, flight, freeze or fawn, that instinct helped to save you from a potentially even worse fate.  That makes your survival instinct pretty impressive!  Don’t discount it!  Embrace it!  Be grateful that it is partly why you survived!

Don’t forget to analyze the event too.  If you analyze it, you had no other choice.  Maybe you’re thinking that you did, but also consider yourself at the time.  You may not have known any better, which led you to make the best choice you could at the time.  This can be difficult, I know.  I’ve spent a lot of time beating myself up for poor choices I’ve made in my life, too, but you know something?  That is a waste of time!  You aren’t the same person you were who made a less than ideal choice during a time of extreme duress.  You did your best & that is all anyone can expect.  You also survived the traumatic event, so you should be proud of yourself!

Please just remember, Dear Reader, that even if your trauma responses haven’t been what you wish they were, you have no reason to be embarrassed or feel guilty about them.  They did their job, which was to help you survive.

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

What To Watch Out For With Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

 

 

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