Updated: Nov 6, 2019
Time and time again I’ve seen people blame themselves for their abuse and neglect. I’ve seen it recently in a session of mine and decided to discuss it with my supervisor. I told her about how I just didn’t understand how as adults, so many people look back at their childhood abuse and neglect and with all the evidence in the world to incriminate their abuser, they still conclude that it was their fault. I assumed that she would say something like “they were kids when it happened, and they just haven’t let go of those ideas” but instead she enlightened me with these words:
“As adults, we often continue to be protective of our abusive environments because that’s what's safest to us. We teach ourselves that we are ‘bad’ and that our abusers were responding to that 'bad' thing inside of us because it’s utterly unbearable to think that someone had so much control over us and that we had nothing to stop them. When we paint ourselves as bad, evil, or at-fault, we get to have control of the narrative. We are the provokers and not the victims. So many don’t want to come to terms with the idea that at one point in their lives, they were victimized”
As she spoke, every word rang true. How many of us make ourselves the bad guy in the story so we can ward off the feeling of helplessness? Especially when those stories are of our childhood. “If I was more _____ he would have stayed.” Or “I was a bad kid that’s why he targeted me”
I hope someone has told you this already, but if they haven’t, I will:
What happened to you as a child, was not your fault
We blame ourselves because the world tells us that victims are weak people seeking pity. That is untrue. Victims are people who have been preyed on in their weakness. It’s important for us to internalize this reality because if we don’t, when other people share their traumas with us, we’ll lead them into self-hate by heaping shame on them for admitting their helplessness in abusive situations.
This message isn’t for everyone, but it is for someone. Maybe, for someone you know, maybe for yourself. Take time to address the ways that you’ve decided that it’s safer to hate parts of yourself that have been abused than to admit that the darkness in someone else deeply affected you. All healing begins with truth, and the child in you needs to hear the truth if it's going to heal.
Until The Circle Comes Back Around,