Victim Blaming: Overcoming Trauma and Identifying Narcissism
Last month, we had a Family therapist/Clinical counsellor speak to our Villagers about Victim Blaming. Jane answered questions from our Villagers, shed light on some questions and offered expert advice on various topics, which we have compiled into articles such as this one. In this article, we share answers to interesting questions asked during the chat.
I want to know how to overcome trauma after abuse and fall in love again. What should I do?
Take time to heal. Getting professional is recommended. Abuse leaves victims guarded. They try to do everything in their power to avoid the abuse or any situation that may be hurtful. In the process they block even good potential mates who are good.
Start slow. Pay attention to how this person is treating you. Engage with them with an open mind. Find someone you trust who can help you in case you wonder whether you’re making the right decision. Don’t allow pain from the past block you from enjoying wonderful relationships going forward.
Does a person know that they’re toxic, the abuser in this case?
It’s always important for all of us to understand that abusers greatest motivation is POWER AND CONTROL. If they didn’t know they were, why would they want to always be in control? Many victims stay in hopes that they’ll change but they don’t want to lose their ‘identity’ to make you feel better than them. No wonder they rarely does or if they do, it requires lots of therapy if at all they are willing to participate
What things should you never say to people or victims who are currently in an abusive relationship? (They know they are hurting already….)
14 Common Comments That Are Really Examples Of Victim-Blaming
“Did You Do Anything That Could Have Been Misinterpreted?” …
“Was There Alcohol Involved?” …
“Did You Say Anything Back?” …
“You’re Making My Life Harder” …
“Why’d You Stay With Them?” …
“If You Didn’t Want An STD, You Shouldn’t Have Had Unsafe Sex” …
“You Need To Be More Assertive” …
“She Cares Too Much About Her Looks”
“What were you wearing”
“What time of the day was it”
“Why did you go to their place”
“But you were friends?”
“You had agreed before, why is it different now?”
“You used to hang out. Maybe you hinted to him….”
How can I help a lady in a toxic marriage where abuse isn’t physical but emotional?
Be there. Let her know if she needs a safe place, you will always be there to offer it
The decision to leave the marriage is solely hers and from the earlier post on trauma bond and the cycle of abuse, it’s so hard to leave. Remind her that a healthy relationship does not include emotional abuse
How can you tell if your partner is narcissistic?
Three things are prevalent with people who have narcissistic tendencies
- They Blame-everything they do is never their fault.
- They control- it’s all about exercising their power in the relationship. Who you visit, how you spend your money, how you dress, what parts of your body are deformed or ugly or beautiful…
First, they will do whatever it takes to make you CHANGE something about yourself they find threatening. Maybe change how you dress so no one finds you attractive or even tell you not to put on makeup. They may even go to the extent of asking you to do plastic surgery to reduce the size of your boobs… They want to take away anything they know makes you happy and comfortable about yourself. They think God made some mistakes and created you with some parts that were in excess or defective.
Second, they want to CONTROL your life. They have to be the only person that has the influence and power over your life. They may decide to isolate you from your close family members or anyone who has a positive impact in your life. If you come from a close knit family, they may add some vocabulary in their statements and call you clingy, co-dependent or even Mama’s baby. They will strip away anything that makes you a better person including your job or church activities. They may even be the ones choosing for you who you visit or where you go and with who.
Third, they will HIDE anything they do wrong that may sabotage the relationship. In fact, they may twist the story when caught to make it look like it’s your fault. Their affairs, porn addiction, alcoholism or gambling problem is all your fault because you ‘refused’ to do certain things they wanted you to do or try a certain sex style they watched online. They may vehemently deny when you confront them about that strange text and say you are jealous or insecure.
Be YOU and you’ll attract the right people who are comfortable with who you truly are.
How can one leave an abusive marriage amidst the blame from friends, church and family?
It’s a decision you alone can make. The church, the family or the people out there have no idea what you’re going through. It’s not their life but yours. Remember breaking news is only breaking news for a short period of time then other news comes after. The thing is, people will talk but only for a while. It’s gonna be hard to leave what was familiar but I can guarantee you it’s better to live 5 years of peace and harmony than 20 years of pain humiliation and pretending to please people who don’t really care.
Is it normal for the victim to avoid conflict under any circumstance, even when justified to be mad?
Being quiet or avoiding confrontation is the victim’s way of surviving the toxic environment. It’s actually their way of trying to keep calm hoping the abuser will stop their controlling behavior. The victim always feels like they’re walking on eggshells so they have to act a certain way to avoid the bomb from exploding. It’s a tough position to be in. Abuse can never be justified in any way. We’re bound to make mistakes because we are human and that should NEVER be a reason for anyone to abuse another human being.
How can society play their part in preventing abuse and helping victims?
As a society we need to change our perception. Just because it hasn’t happened to us doesn’t mean it’s none of our business. We need to support organizations that advocate for the survivors. We need to participate in those open public meetings that discuss these issues. We need to watch what we say and how we are responding to those suffering differently than us. Just because it’s not you doesn’t mean you’re immune to it. Nobody asks for it. It can happen to ANYONE. Let’s be vigilant to play our part to support those who need us.
How do you rebuild your self esteem when you’re coming out of an abusive relationship?
After escaping an abusive partner, starting a new life can feel empowering. You’re on your own. You are in control. You’re safe.
But, these positive feelings may not appear right away, and this is normal. You may feel unsure, anxious or have a profound sense of loss for what you left behind. You may start questioning your decisions—“Am I strong enough to do this? Do I deserve good things to happen to me?” After all, for so long, your abuser tried to convince you otherwise.
Regaining your self-esteem after domestic violence takes time. It’s important you work on it daily, just as you would strengthen your body after being injured. Building up confidence in yourself is especially important if you have children who were also in an abusive situation with you.
Kids are apt to imitate your actions, attitudes and emotions and, if you are modeling confidence and self-appreciation, they will be more likely to feel the same about themselves. Children who witness violence at home are more likely to have low self-esteem and high incidents of self-blame later in life.
How does a person handle being blamed as a victim of abuse? Either by family or friends who were not in the situation? Are there tips to use?
IT’S NEVER YOUR FAULT
Learn to slowly nurture yourself and constantly remind yourself that it’s not your fault. Forgive yourself for thinking that way. Surround yourself with people who can support you in the healing process . Start doing things that you enjoy to bring life back.
It’s okay to feel alone and down but remember those moments don’t define you.
Seek professional help. It helps to talk to a trained professional who can help process the pain
If you’re in the process of leaving a physically and emotionally abusive relationship, how do you deal with the resulting bouts of anger, fear and anxiety?
I commend the person for having the courage to leave. Even after leaving, those feelings of anger and anxiety don’t go away right away. It’s a journey that is sometimes long and winding.Seek help to process the hurt
Find someone you trust to walk with you. Join a group of people who’ve gone through it and encourage one another. Do things you enjoy to distract yourself and also find joy in living in this world despite it’s brokenness
Sometimes you have to be very assertive and create boundaries that no matter what they can’t penetrate. Your safety should always be a priority.Remember from the responses earlier, abusers will have something or someone to BLAME at all times. They don’t own it because that takes away the control and power.
It’s even more complex when drugs and alcohol are involved.
If you are going through abuse or you know a person going through abuse, the Gender-Based Violence-free hotline is 1195. If you would like to join a community of women healing from abuse, WhatsApp +254736275978.
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