Three Questions Abuse Survivors Get While Trying to Recover and How to Handle Them.
Why didn't you just leave???
This one is usually a little bit accusation and a little bit trying to figure out if the victim is mentally impaired in some way. Because who doesn't leave a relationship that sucks, right?
I'm not going to sit here and pretend that people do not stay in situations that are hurting them. That would be a lie. What I am going to tell you is that every circumstance is different, and everyone has different pain thresholds for different types of pain.
I'm also going to tell you that a lot of terrible relationships aren't terrible the entire time. I have some very good memories from my relationship with the narcissist. His actions and relayed feelings may have been false, but mine were not.
Also, I cannot say enough that an abuser either catches someone in a weakened mental, emotional, physical, or financial state OR they slowly put them in one and make it 10x's harder for their victim to leave. Some people act like abuse just sort of starts happening like it wasn't the abuser's intention or that the abuser didn't know they were being abusive. No dude, they are fully aware of what is occurring. They are tactical. If they weren't good at what they were dong, we wouldn't have abusers or abuse recovery or women's shelters or discussions about domestic violence towards men...etc... It amazes me how some think that abusive situations are easy to get out of. Also, no 2 abuse situations are exactly alike.
People would like to think that everyone is in the situation where they have 7 grand in the bank, their own car, family surrounding them, and that if they don't like what's happening in a relationship, they can just wake up one morning, pack their stuff and leave their partner a nice note on the counter that they are leaving and their partner not only accepts their decision, but respects them for it. That is not everyone.
People do not get to decide what other people should or should not have done during times of stress or crisis.
What I'm trying to say, is that if you feel judged by someone who was not in your body during your abuse....don't. They are not judging you. Their limited intelligence might be telling them that they are, but they aren't. They are merely imagining a scenario of what they would do if what happened to you, happened to them. However, THEY are not YOU. They weren't there and they did not go through it. Listen....if you were on the outside looking in, you'd have an advantage as well, right?
Have you ever caught yourself having a mock conversation or argument in your head while you were in the shower? In that conversation, you role-play responses and outcomes. This is what other people are doing. We rarely respond to real life scenarios as we do in these mock scenarios.
They weren't there. They do not have the details. I'm not sure how to explain it exactly. They did not have the point of view from your eyes. They did not smell the smells, feel the energy in the room, weigh out the different options you had 100 times a day like you did, etc....
Do not take ownership of their "shoulds"
What i have done the 2 times this situation has arose where I was being blamed for staying was I said "I spent all of that time being manipulated into believing i was dramatic and crazy, and now you are trying to convince me I was stupid and blind they have already made up their mind that you are weak or whatever it is they have decided that you are. But it will make you feel better. Something about saying something that is true makes us feel better about false accusations. Remember, we are done trying to please other people. We are now only concerned with our own well being and how we feel about ourselves.
Why didn't you tell me?
- we were manipulated into thinking it was our fault
- we were gaslight to the point of not trusting our perception of what was happening.
- Some of us were threatened physically or otherwise into not saying anything
- our abuser convinced us no one would care.
- we weren't ready to leave yet and had enough stress already and didn't need the pressure.
- people always say they will help but not everyone means it
- we felt bad enough about ourselves already and didn't want to be anyone else's burden.
- our abuser had already made enough people believe things about us that weren't true and we were afraid of what they might say to you.
- at the point where we would have said something its possible our abuser knew it was getting to that point so they would apologize or cry or promise to get help or make us feel bad for them so we changed our minds
- maybe there are children involved and we've been threatened with custody, or if we left we wouldn't have the more suitable living arrangement
- they made sure our name wasn't on the bank account
- we came from abusive backgrounds and think this is normal. You deal with it and don't talk about it.
- we feel bad for the abuser. They've given us excuses and have told us they "love us and don't know why they act like this."
- they've played on our insecurities so much that we don't believe anyone else will want us and some of us are afraid to be alone.
- because we got used to it and it became our normal like anything else that's bad for you and it the thought of leaving was just as daunting as the thought of staying.
- because the abuser was unpredictable and we didn't know what would happen if they found out.
- because it had gone on so long that we didn't want to be judged or chastised for not saying anything sooner.
- we maybe knew it wasn't our fault but watched the abuser convince others it was so we expected t to happen again.
- we had been though worse before and thought this was as good as it was gong to get. at least it wasn't "such and such"
- some of us were told "it's not like i beat you" and somehow this seemed like a logical statement.
- I didn't know how
- some of us were warned about the abuser because maybe he can't keep a job or whatever and we were embarrassed because we stood up for them and held our ground and now it was 10x's worse than anyone said it would be.
- The abuser had us in a situation where we pushed away from everyone, sometimes maliciously, so when we needed you we were worried we already burned that bridge and you would refuse to help because you already moved on from us.
- Some of us have needed help more than once before because of other things like bad decisions or addictions and we felt that we exhausted our dance card so to speak.
- Because some of us are men and it is emasculating and too vulnerable for us to admit we even are being abused. Men are brought up being told to be tough and deal with things. Even worse if that abuse isn't physical, because at least if it was physical people might understand. Anything else and they just can't see past the years of toxic masculinity shoved at them.
I mean honestly, take your pick from the list or add in some that you've experienced. All of these reasons are valid and make perfect sense to someone who is a victim of abuse. Some people who are victims really don't have familiar people in their life they can go to for help. And the thought of trusting a stranger such as a women's shelter is so terrifying they just stay in it.
In essence, fear stops people from doing things. If someone asks you why you didn't tell them you were being abused in some way, the response you give them is "fear."
If they ask you to elaborate, you have every right to let them know that fear can stop anyone from doing anything and no matter the breakdown of the reason behind the fear, the fear was there.
I warned you about this. Why didn't you listen to me?
Your one and only response to this question needs to be : "Are you blaming me for someone else's actions against me?"
Look, it doesn't matter if you were warned. You didn't heed the warning, and you got into a situation that ended up in you being abused. This does not make it okay, and it doesn't make what happened to you any less valid than if everyone cheered you on into the relationship. What's done is done and hindsight is 20/20. Dwelling on what you could have avoided isn't healthy at this stage. At this stage, you need to heal and take preventative measures to ensure that you never have to be in that situation again.
Don't let anyone say "I told you so." Because it's like "yea? good for you."
If the endured abuse themselves they should be nothing but loving and empathetic. If they haven't endured abuse, then they should be listening and not talking. If they can't do either of those things, then you don't have to talk about it with them.
Discussing your abuse.
In the end, your approach to how you decide to discuss your abuse is up to you. The only advice I can give that may stick, is that you endured enough. They weren't there. They didn't experience it. It is time to be kind to yourself and demand kindness and respect from others. If they cannot give that to you, walk away. If you are in a living situation where you cannot walk away from them literally, then walk away from the conversation when it arises. I wasn't their abuse. The conversation belongs to you. In the interest of beginning to heal, be kind to yourself.