Abuse is NOT your fault. Yes, really.

Does your abusive partner start sentences with ‘If you loved me, you’d…’? When she apologises, is she expert in shifting the blame onto something or someone else (usually you)? Then there’s something BIG that you need to know: It’s not your fault. Yes, really.

Is your abusive partner dodging responsibility?

If you are in an abusive relationship, you will have heard these phrases (or variations of them). I call these the ‘if, only and just’ statements, and they are crafted to shift the blame elsewhere:

  • I wouldn’t need to do this if you would listen to me / stop doing that / do things right
  • I only act this way because you drive me crazy
  • If you really loved me, you wouldn’t do something that you know upsets me so much
  • It’s just because I’m stressed out with work that I am short-tempered at home
  • If I had a better childhood, I wouldn’t be like this
  • But I only flip out when I drink.

Also, watch out for the less subtle but equally twisted:

  • Your mother hates me. You shouldn’t let her poison your mind against me
  • You don’t understand me
  • You don’t love me
  • I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t care about you
  • You’re stupid / selfish / irrational / self-obsessed.

What’s the common theme to all of these statements? When he hurts you, it’s because of something he can’t control. It’s not his fault: it is yours. And he thinks it is your job to fix it, because it’s definitely not his. He’ll work hard to convince you of this, so he’s off the hook and you’re firmly on it.

What happens when an abuser shifts the blame?

Accusatory finger-pointing in action (Photo by a2gemma)

Accusatory finger-pointing in action (Photo by a2gemma)

I have yet to come across an abuser who is willing to accept responsibility (though perhaps there are a couple cavorting with unicorns in a mythical forest). There are a heap of reasons why, but it boils down to this:

  1. If they don’t accept responsibility, they don’t have to try to change
  2. If we believe they are not responsible, we don’t expect them to change themselves
  3. If we believe that we are responsible, we spend our energy on trying to change things rather than looking for the exit.

After a meltdown, my abusive ex would regularly tell me, “But darling, you know what I’m like. I’ve just got a short fuse. I see red and I lose it. I don’t even know what I’m doing when I’m angry. I’ve been like that my whole life, so why are you so bothered about it?”

Clearly, I was too irrational to just take it on the chin and accept that the rage would stop when he felt good and ready, and too stupid to realise that it was only a big deal in my head and nowhere else. Yeah, right.

A dangerous, ever decreasing cycle

The thing is, after the first few times that I heard that excuse and stayed put, I was implicitly (and against my will) validating that statement. Yes, I did know that he was abusive. And yes, I stayed (because I was trying to fix him). So in my own mind, my resistance against the abuse was eroded time and time again. It’s not like I didn’t know what he was.

It was a dangerous, ever decreasing circle. The only way to breakout of the soul-pounding spin cycle was to understand this:

Bad stuff happens to people all of the time. It doesn’t make everyone into a soulless maniac. Being abusive was a choice that my man made. No amount of love or compassion or support from me was ever going to change that – because it wasn’t my fault. It was his. And as long as I shouldered his burden of responsibility, he’d continue to hurt me.

He chose abuse and misery. I chose freedom and (eventual) happiness. You can too, because it is NOT your fault. It never was.

Handful of stars

Photo by xJasonRogersx

Is your abuser skilled in dodging responsibility? What impact did this have on you? When and how did you throw off the shackles of blame?

Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14
https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com

 

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17 responses to “Abuse is NOT your fault. Yes, really.

  1. Thank you for your clear voice. It’s so important to understand that the way couples communicate in tense moments portrays the future of the relationship and the quality of life they will have. Accepting one’s own responsibility and being accountable for what is said and done has become the most illusive character trait of all.

    Like

    • Willy Nilly, you are right to say that a lot of people struggle to accept responsibility for their words and actions.

      When perpetrators of domestic abuse do this, it is particularly destructive because they are often skilled at manipulating others into feeling (unwarranted) guilt so they do not ever have to change.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The greatest manipulator and abuser was my mother. She would beat my head into the wall, throw me on the floor anything in front of her to do the most damage. I could count on 30-45 minutes later she came in sat on the bed beside me and said she did it because she loved me. I’m not sure I believed her yet I knew no other way to live. I spent all of my young life being physically and emotionally abused by her. I grew an outer shell, the pain didn’t hurt anyone. It’s heartbreaking to think of a nine year old trying to commit suicide. That was my idea of taking away the pain. I knew it wasn’t normal. The few friends I had were not cutting or hell bent on dying. I am fortunate a greater power had a hand on me and it wasn’t my turn to die.
    I’m thankful to see what life has to offer and blessed to meet you. You walked away, worked hard to find yourself, your voice, peace in your life. I think of you often. Big hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Looking, I’m so sorry to hear that you went through all of that with your mother, the person above all others that a child has a right to expect will nurture them and keep them safe.

      You are amazingly strong, have achieved much, and are doing great work to help others. I feel equally blessed to have found you. x

      Like

      • Hello my dear friend,
        Thank you for the kind words. The blessing was God gave my grandparents the strength to take in a troubled teen with no direction or self love. They taught me many gifts, the greatest being their unconditional love. Without them, my life would have ended way to soon. It saddens me to know there are children out there right now who are being abused. I can’t feel pain for myself or cry but the moment I think about one child going thru the pain I did, it breaks my heart. No child needs to know the betrayal of a parent. It’s a pain that numbs you. It also sets you up with a distorted view of love, patterns to follow until you learn to love yourself. I’m not very good with kids, I din’t have any and have not been around many, but their innocent hearts deserve so much better. One of many reasons I respect DV survivors, they try hard to protect their kids, often taking the brunt of the abuse. So many sacrifices are made for the kids, it must be so difficult to have the strength to start over. I admire anyone who puts their kids first. Try’s to shield them from the fights, bruises and difficulties. We all have difficulties in life, no greater than the other. To me it’s what you do with the difficulty. You are a dear friend and I think of you often. Hope life is good.
        May God/Allah bless you. M

        Like

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  4. No more apologizing for the behavior of an abuser…I love what you wrote about bad things happening to people all the time…abusive behavior is a choice! They are quite capable of being decent when they want to…no more excuses💜

    Like

    • Hi AoA and thank you as ever for adding your voice. I couldn’t agree more. It took me a long time to figure out that abusers always have a choice to do the right or wrong thing, like everybody else. They do what they do because they WANT to, and their excuses are exactly that! x

      Like

  5. WOW… Powerful!! Every word of this is so true. It just brought back so many memories with that finger pointing at me. Thanks for sharing. I hope you don’t mind is I link it to a posting. Awesome post. Thanks for sharing with us all.

    Like

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