Abusers who Blame Victims and the People who Support ThemBy Darlene Ouimet
I can’t believe how many abusers, controllers, and manipulative people present themselves as the victim. This is so normal that it is usually accepted without question in our society! These controlling and manipulative people tell everyone that some horrible thing has been done to them and no one questions them about where it started. But when a child of any age tries to communicate harm done to them, especially if the harm was done by family or parents, so many people defend the abusive/manipulative parent or family member and completely discount and dismiss the offended child! It’s crazy to me how many people defend these toxic people and discount the actual victim of this disrespectful and abusive treatment ~ BEFORE they even hear the whole story. Being invalidated in this way contributes to the distress of children and adult children in such a huge way.
I have been thinking a lot about this subject this week and interestingly enough some great examples have come in through the comments;
Because there is so much information in this comment, I am going to put my comments in green throughout “G’s” comments. Here is what G. shared:
“Though I don’t remember it, my parents tell me I banged my head against a wall and smashed a mirror over my head when I was 14 (I remember that one). It was awful, because my mother would come in my room to torment me when I was already sad, and then I would react this way after she finally felt like she’d taken all of her negative emotions on me and crushed me enough.
Darlene says: “It sounds like your mother burdened you with her negative emotions so much that you reacted in a self-harming way. This is very common when a child has been brainwashed to believe that ‘she or he’ is the problem. They blame themselves just like the parents blame them and then they self-punish.”
My father would close the door with the creepiest calmness if he ever heard crying my crying annoyed him, but didn’t affect him.
Darlene says: “And then the father adds to the damage by shutting the child out; closing the door is further punishment and defines the child as being unworthy of comfort. This shutting out also defines the child ‘the problem’ and invalidates the reason for the crying as if there IS no reason for the crying but that the problem IS the crying. This is very difficult for a child to comprehend and forces a child to find survival techniques”.
They used this as a reason to medicate me and then as an excuse to have me forcibly removed from my home and locked up for almost a year.
Darlene says: “They used that event as something YOU did in your distress to PROVE that you were the problem which then justifies their actions. As you say in this paragraph, he never took responsibility for HIS inaction when it came to parenting and never considered that perhaps it was what they were doing and not doing that was the real cause of the problem.”
I mean, two years later! My father paid a lot of money to not have to parent me and still guilts me about how much he spent. As if that traumatic event was something I ever would have chosen on my own! It messed me up a lot. He never took responsibility for not parenting, let alone look at the fact their behavior might have been a reason for my distress (I am at my most stable with NC so that’s proof enough for me!). It’s always my fault. That is something I am really dealing with and trying so hard to challenge.
Darlene says: “And see how these parents see themselves as the ‘victims’ in these situations? A child is NEVER a burden; it is the responsibility of the parent to take care of the child’s needs in every way. When a parent communicates that a child was a burden in this way, the child BELIEVES they are a burden. One of the hardest things I had to work through was un-doing the brainwashing that my mother was a victim of my behaviour and see what HER behaviour communicated to me about me and her feelings about me. Realizing how much I had assumed the blame for everything and seeing the truth that the blame did not belong to me, was a huge pathway to healing”.
I was so ashamed. They blamed me for getting ‘sent away’ in a ‘letter of accountability’ so I had to read about the smashing mirror thing to a group of people I didn’t know, some of whom were bullies. Parents’ only reasons were the mirror thing and a single joyride I took with my sister for 20 minutes in town.
Darlene says: “In my recovery I realized that there were a couple of things that that I had done that I applied to myself as “proof” that they were right about me. Like you there were not many but it doesn’t take much when a child has been defined as “the problem.”
Now he guilt trips me, “If your mother really didn’t love you, why did she spend hours in your room, trying to make you feel better?” Really, really? If she was trying to make me feel better, I would have felt the intent, but she had her own issues that she had to (and still tries to, though we are NC) today. It was always about making her feel better at MY expense, never the other way around.
Darlene says: “This is an important realization. I had to take a long look at what the role of the parent was supposed to be so I could come out of the fog about where I believed that I had failed in the dysfunctional family relationships. I was a child and I had NO responsibility as that child to assist in any way with an adults emotional issues. ”
So many other examples of how she didn’t love me- involving neglect/emotional abuse- I still have this awful feeling of having to prove myself. They are intent everything bad in their lives is my fault. Last time I spoke with her she said, “Everything is good in my life except you’re not in it” while simultaneously bawling and cutting me off. Every boundary I tried to set on that call was disregarded. Of course she mattered, poor her, but I was nothing. Even when I don’t talk to her or communicate, I am the reason for her unhappiness. How sick is that? And family members guilt me “If my daughter didn’t talk to me”….
Darlene says: “This is how it is done. They refuse to see any part in the dysfunction of the relationship with their own child. They use guilt and shame, we are groomed with guilt and shame until we don’t question it anymore. My mother used to tell me that she was going to have a breakdown if I kept talking about my feelings. She could tear me down but if I tried to communicate my side of it, she cut me off. I didn’t deserve a say. And for many years I accepted or tried to accept that but my depressions got worse as I got older. Today I see a direct relationship between the way that I was disregarded and those constant depressions.”
I have an aunt and her boyfriend’s family whom are people who understand the concept of love and respect. So when I contrast their behavior and my own parents, I poke so many holes through the “We love you/it’s all your fault” logic.
Darlene says: “I had to learn the real definition of the word “Love”. I had to look up the laws when it comes to children and children’s rights. I had to look at the government definition of child neglect. Through doing all these things I came to see the truth that set me free ~ I was not the problem. I was the injured and discounted party”.
I spent the holidays with them last Christmas- best holidays I’ve had in 10 years. Why is that now?? Even if they hadn’t invited me, I would have been happier alone in my apartment.
Sorry this is so long! Wow, what a great community this is. I can no longer live in the dark, I never will again. G” Thank you so much G for your great examples of the real root of the problem.
I also received a comment from a reader who expressed to her Dr. her difficulty with people who automatically defend her mother; Read what this commenter had to say and what her Dr. advised:
A writes: “I just got back from a doctor’s appt (annual) where he asked me about any stressors I’d had over the past year. Among other things, I mentioned my mother and how hard it was when people to whom I’d otherwise look for support immediately defended her and discounted me.
I told him that was a major source of stress. He told me that since my parents were old, I should expect to take care of them. He told me that many people would defend her just like he was and that I should just get used to it.
He told me that I should consult a psychiatrist if my anxiety over this issue increased and that I should look at meds.” ~ A
Darlene says: “It makes me crazy when I read about stuff like this! This woman told HER doctor about what was causing her stress and he told her that SHE was the problem and that SHE should seek help and consider going on medication! Why is it so accepted that our ‘parents’ have all these ‘human rights’ that WE don’t have?? What this doctor did is so devaluing, so discounting of HIS PATIENTS feelings and concerns. He doesn’t even know the mother or the circumstances in this situation! How could he possibly know the details of why this woman needs support when it comes to her mother? He told her that she SHOULD take care of her parents and even that it is expected of her to do so! And what makes this so disgusting is that in my experience, children NEVER are right. Not when they are kids, not when they are teens, young adults or older adults. In our society, in almost ALL society, No matter what age children are, when it comes to parents, the parents are always right. This is devaluing. This is defining to the child or adult child; it defines the child as ‘wrong’. It assigns the blame to the wrong party, validates the perpetrator of the abuse or mistreatment and serves to perpetuate and continue the cycle of abuse and dysfunctional family dynamics. But it NEVER serves the child or validates them as a person with needs, feelings and human rights.
Here is one more example from my own life; I remember telling my mother when I was an adult, that when I was a teenager I stole my clothes because she didn’t give me any money to buy them. She immediately turned this around to make the story about HER, bringing up all her crap about all the sacrifices she made for us kids and then she finds something like ‘this’ out. She said things like “well…you think you know your kids…” but she never once addressed, admitted or validated WHY I was stealing clothing. She skipped right over that part of the story and made this disappointing information about her, her difficult life and her pain.
Please share your thoughts and examples with us in the comment form. Please remember that you may use any name you wish here; only the name you use in the comment form will be seen by other readers. Your email address is not published. Your privacy is important to me.
Food for thought on the journey to wholeness!