There are some really, hideously ugly truths out there. They aren’t fair, they aren’t right and they aren’t nice…but they are true, and we have no choice but to accept that no matter how much it sickens us.
The worst thing I have learned while trying to recover from terrifying abuse is that, while society claims to want to protect the innocent, it does not. The law, social services, the police, acquaintances…when you’ve gone through horrible abuse, they cannot and will not help. In fact, they usually make things worse. It’s horrible, because these institutions are supposed to help us, but they do the opposite. Surviving abuse is a very lonely experience that requires more strength than most of us believe we have. Yesterday, I posted on Facebook that
“In my experiences with the police, courts, judges, CPS or any other legal agency that is designed to “help” us, these people are absolutely clueless about domestic violence and especially about the terrifying effects of emotional, financial and psychological abuse.
I have learned that they do NOT care one bit if the abuser hurt you or your kids, if the abuser continues to torment or stalk you, or if you live in fear of your abuser. That is perfectly fine to them.
However, they will vilify YOU–the victim–if you react to the abuse with PTSD, depression or anxiety. For some reason, they’d rather degrade people who’ve already been through hell than hold an abuser accountable. Our children are NOT safe.
I wish there were more good stories out there, but frankly, mine is just as hideous as the rest of the stories I hear.”
Why is this?
Well for one, most abuse goes on in private. We don’t exactly see abusers jumping up and down to admit that yes, they did terrorize you. They are out to protect themselves. And they look more believable. They haven’t been hurt, and they have the instinct to keep themselves out of trouble, so it’s essential to them to lie. If there is a personality disorder involved, it’s even worse. Sociopaths are superficially charming, lie easily and feel zero remorse. By comparison, their victims are terrified and emotional. The abuser looks calm and the victim looks “crazy.”
Abusers rarely seek therapy or help. They cannot admit that anything is wrong with their behavior. But victims often seek help. I know for me, I went to therapy, but that wasn’t enough. I still needed to talk about how bad things were. The thoughts still haunted me outside of therapy. I would trust and talk to anyone who seemed the least bit nice. Unfortunately, I foolishly trusted the wrong people. I have had very poor boundaries. I was naive and thought that in life, people really did want to help the abused and stop the abuse. Nope. That is not true. Someone who has not been abused does not understand the dynamics. When I was reaching out for help, I was accused of trashing the abuser. When I was scared to socialize, people thought I was being a snob. When I was severely depressed, they thought I was crazy. Oh I’m the one in therapy? I must be nutso. The abuser doesn’t go to therapy, so he must be normal. WRONG!
One thing I noticed with my own dysfunctional parents was that my dad was obviously unwell. He was a long-time alcoholic who got DUIs, got arrested and went to alcohol rehab. It was very easy to peg him as the problem in my parents’ marriage. His problems were loud and clear. But, my mother was more deceptive and cruel. Her abuses were hidden. They took place inside the home. If they took place outside the home, they were zingers couched in fake concern. That is extremely common with manipulators. The abuser might say something like “I’m so concerned for my husband. He drinks all the time and has mental health problems.” But not many people realize that is not true concern. That is a way to discredit the other person…hidden in a layer of sap. Who would listen to him about what was going on at home if everyone thinks he is a mentally ill drunk, right? But things were very bad at home. And when my dad was out of the picture, it transferred to me and I took the place as the scapegoat who reminded her of my dad that she hated so much. When I was a child and reached out to say what was going on, my mother would tell her relatives, (who had been trained to hate my dad,) that I was crazy just like his family. Because I was upset about being abused, I looked just as “crazy” as she kept telling everyone I was, and I just got more upset because I could not be heard or helped.
I have always been naive and vulnerable like that. Oh, people must be safe. They must all want the best for us. Nope. Most people want the best for THEM. When I was being abused as a child, I reached out repeatedly. At first it was to teachers who were limited in what they could do. Later it was to relatives who shamed me for daring to say my mom was less than perfect. Later it was to the police who believed my mother who magically went from raging and violent to sweet and innocent when they arrived.
This stuff is normal for people who are abused. How many of us have been frustrated by Jekyll and Hyde abusers who will torment us in private, then suddenly change for the public…while we are still upset and crying? The public just sees the crazy person shaking and crying and the abuser looking calm and dominant. I married someone much like my mother–which is extremely common for daughters of abusers. And I continued to deal with the same issues. Abuse in private, calm feigned innocence in public. It’s frustrating.
We live in a world where the only abuse that matters is that which leaves you hurt or dead. No one cares if you’ve been verbally terrorized, if you were controlled with threats, if you were physically attacked in a way that didn’t leave marks, if the abuser controlled you financially to keep you in your place. If we talk about these things and get louder and louder trying to be heard, we are labeled as crazy or making trouble.
We also live in a world that will ignore all kinds of abuse, but will punish the victim for reacting to it. No one cares what kinds of terrifying things you’ve lived through, but they will notice if you are depressed, have anxiety or have PTSD. That will make you the crazy one. The abuser won’t be held accountable for abusing you, but you will be held accountable for reacting to it.
Time and time again, I’ve read these horror stories in support groups. Time and time again I’ve lived it. This is the ugly truth. Abusers get the benefit of the doubt. Victims are labeled crazy. All I can say is, prepare yourself for the worst emotional battle of your life. You will go through hell, but you won’t be allowed to react.
15 thoughts on “When it comes to abuse, society won’t help. You are on your own”
I love your page and support what you do. I don’t want to disagree with someone who’s doing the right thing, but this article could have a negative impact on those still trapped. There are great support groups, I’m involved in one and I know people who have received helped through shelters, family, friends and strangers. There is always hope and good people willing to listen, believe and support. Are you familiar with #domesticviolencechat Monday night on Twitter, or http://www.breakthesilencedv.org/ – there’s so many survivors online who are more than happy to help others who are stuck in similar situations. That should be the message we are sending to other victims.
Wishing you an easier journey, sincerely Jenn
You are correct in your assessment — people don’t care because victims deserve what they get — the message us clear — don’t be a victim. But for most of us, the only other choice us to be an abuser.
I think what is really important is to understand that the only person who will care and protect you is YOU. That is where you energies have to be directed — in protecting yourself.
Too often we see fighting back as aggression instead of sending a message to our abusers, that we aren’t going to take it. We have been trained that defending ourselves by fighting back us aggressive when it is being assertive.
Hey Leslie, I’m sorry ye have had such bad experiences when looking for help as a victim of abuse. Keep looking there is help. Post abuse is a difficult journey, but with the right help and support you can travel from victim, survivor to thriver. At no stage will you turn into an abuser, but this is what your abuser will call you, he will say that you were the perpetrator of the abuse, he will say you did all the things he did to you! And he says this because he’s a pathological liar. He is the negativety to your positivity. And your right, use your energy for your own healing, and surround yourself with loving and trusting people to help you on your way.
There is nothing about this journey that is going to be warm, fuzzy, or inviting. The positive is derived from the fact that we are seeking help. The great blessing is that a person that has found there way to this site and similar sites, knows what they are seeking help for. I am 44 years old, and did not understand what I was suffering from, struggling with, or why I was so confused, misunderstood, and the list goes on. At 42 I stumbled upon a site that saved my life. It was no accident, the timing, and specific site was exactly what I needed.. We are familiar with fear, disappointment, and rejection. I believe more harm comes from omitting the truth, then the truth in all it’s unpleasantness. Softening the blow, and sugar coating the distasteful facts are potentially harmful to a person, to a much greater degree, then arming a person with the truth. Also, consider where the truth is coming from. Who is delivering it, and what is the intent? A site such as this, is exactly where I would hope I would be introduced to the inevitable, and made aware of all possibilities, both positive and negative, from caring indivuals who have gone before me. To do otherwise would be irresponsible. Help is helpful to us all, in varying degrees and in different ways. I need the truth however unpleasant, ugly, or scary. Some need a gentler delivery, but no one should be kept in the dark. As we spent far too long there. Our hearts and minds are adjusting to the light, and like our eyes, our Creator has provided us with the ability, strength, and tools to adjust, adapt, and fine tune our experience. The truth being ones foundation, is the greatest platform in which to take the first steps towards The light, thus healing.
I really really like your blog as I can relate to every single thing that you are writing about. I myself am dealing with the aftermath of getting out a something with a narcopath. I was young and he was a bit older, have known the dude for over ten years and we have a child together, or in other words, HE has the child and… ugh, it’s complex.
What I wanted to say is that I have definitely experienced the same thing as you. No one will be willing to listen to you without judging, let alone help you. It’s so sad. People (and strangely enough even people that have known you for a very long time) will always think it is you who is crazy the second you even begin to open up about what hell you have been through. All they will see is how the narco is “oh so nice” and ever so charming and helpful… to them, it is obvious that YOU must be at fault.
Recently, the narco and I went to a family therpist kind of counselor which had been initiated by me. After the first meeting between just the counselor and me where I very very vaguely told her about the outlines of my situation (I was being very careful with what I told her and how, trying to avoid being judged), I was quite hopeful actually. The narco played along, too.
But only by the third session, he had managed to competely wrap that woman around her finger so that in the end it was the counselor telling me she does not understand where my problem is because the narco is so incredibly nice and understanding and willing to cooperate… and we do have such a precious connection… and the problem is obviously with me and not with anyone else. I should seek more help, I was told.
I was… I don’t even know what I was. I had hoped so much that this woman, as a family therapist, would be experienced enough to see beyong the narco’s messed up ways of being and -being a woman- would believe me more than him. But how wrong was I… As I’m typing this, all I can think of in my head is the word “wow”, and it’s not in a good way.
I’m still in search of (a new network of) people to connect with that will take me for who and what I am rather than side with the father of my child. But it’s hard.
All the best to you and keep your blog up, I’m sure you’re helping more people than you’ll know :))
*his! He wrapped her around HIS finger.
It’s true. No one will listen unless it is another abused person who knows exactly what it looks like from the outside, because they have been through it. I think that’s what saved me right around the time I was tired of being hurt sick and tired. I went to the internet looking for the answers and found them. Found others like me… And it gave me the courage to escape… Had no job no money no skills… He had me pregnant at 17 married to him… and had another child a little less then two yrs later, He forced me and I had a third child. I slept in a friends basement… you want to know how I met the friend? It was the sister of the girl he was cheating on me with… She took me under her wing and protected me. in the ten yrs I was married to him… I took every kind of psych med… Thinking I was crazy, Now I take none…IT;s hard to recover I am ptsd, I have severe anxiety, Depression… And who knows what else might be wrong. Most of the time I only go out to get what is needed for my kids… Fought in court for 4 yrs to gain back custody of my kids. I finally did when they were old enough to testify on their own behalf… It took years of therapy to gain a measure of healing…And even now I am afraid to get into a relationship. I am afraid to be so vulnerable to anyone ever again… I have tried a couple of relationships since then… and I never let anyone get close enough… I keep my distance… and so they fail, Because I won’t let anyone in… So the damage is long term and I think for me permanent. However there is laughter… peace and happiness after abuse…Trust… not so much… But there is a measure of peace… you can have joy and love and many good things after it’s all over. So never give up. This yr… I bought my house my first one.. it’s mine. I did it alone… I just turned 40… and I am content with my life raises the last 3 of my kids at home.. I have 2 adult kids… who also went through the same abuse from the same man I did. They are not very functional…My 16 yr old might struggle as well… as he was with the abuser for 14 yrs before I could get him out. I hope he can make it and not become what his dad was. My two youngest sons dad is deceased…. I hope they turn out “more normal” as they have been with me all their life and I did my best to not do any of the things i watched the abuser do…It’s a hard and scary thing but you can survive… mostly intact.. and you can live a fairly normal life. You will never be the same again… But a new stronger you can and will emerge… You just have to let yourself grow… and therapy… write in a journal get it all out….
I run a support group for women recovering from abuse from personality disordered people and I see this over and over and over. I am asked often by members how to get out , where to go for help, and how scared they are of what is happening in court. the judges don’t listen and further abuse them, the police are out right mean to them and tell them there is nothing they can do, even therapists tell them to get over it. I agree with your story 100%. its so frustrating not being able to help those who want out and the stories I hear every day will make you cry. I hope one day things change for victims and they are given the respect they deserve. but im not holding my breath. Thank you for the validation.
I wish I could say it didn’t seem like you were telling my story but you were. I have fought back from so much and I continue to be attacked due to the abuse of some one else and my reactions to it. I pray on day for everyone the truth gets out and we can all live in Peace.
Omg. You are so right on. No one can believe the victim. I had to go to the hospital yesterday morning. I had my first ever seizure. But it was brought on because of anxiety medication that I abruptly stopped taking. I started about 2 months ago to be able to handle my narcissist husband. Did I even think he was going to be compassionate or concerned when I passed out. OF COURSE NOT. But still I was looking for some. All he cared about was talking to all the ambulance EMT specialists and the half doz policemen that came to the door. While at hospital all he kept says was I didn’t take my medication. I got so mad. I told the doctor to not to listen to him. He lies. I told them to go by my daughter because she was with me the whole time. After a bit of time before I even got a room. I told him he had to go home. He made me nervous. He couldn’t even call his mother to tell her I was in the hospital. I had to do it myself. But My experience of doctors and nurses all looking at me as if I was the crazy one and my husband stayed calm. He never asked how I was. Even today. I had my sister bring me home. Do you think he asked how I was last night. He didn’t even try to ask me if he should stay the night with me. I would of most certainly say no anyway. I’ve been home for 3 hours. Still hasn’t said one word to me. Anyway if this wasn’t a wake up call for me. then I have to be crazy. His mother came to see me either. Because if she did I would of had it with her. Telling her it’s your son doing this to me!!! Perhaps she figured she better stay at home. My problem. He is a cop in our home town. All his buddies will stand up for him. All the judges around will also too. Because they all know him. I’m trapped.
There is help for people physically abused; it took many years to get to this place but the psychological terrorizing that narcissists can inflict are difficult for sure. People who have little if any knowledge respond to narcissists tactics like people used to react to physical abuse/domestic violence and that included “leave him/her” or “get out.” Until you have a place to go that is safe and the money to get to that place and support yourself takes time- all the reasons why victims of domestic violence stay so long or “go back” hold true for all the psychological abuse situations. We need to get together and quantify what psychologic abuse is- see power and control wheel Deluth model- psychological abuse defined exists but as you stated agencies designed to help have their hands tied…you can’t take someone to jail who denies what he/she said etc-assaulting another (physial/partner abuse) is a crime and police can only act if a crime has been committed-I don’t quite know how to solve this problem
I moved in with my son and family to save children from foster care because of the drug use and I don’t even drink. Parents on Crystal meth didn’t want me telling on them so they called the police numerous times saying I was “off my meds” (an antidepressant} and crazy. Cops blamed me and tried to have me committed and even after I found out the kids had an order of protection from the parents, claimed to know nothing about it until their chief put it in their mailbox..Parents alienated children and they all abused me.
I repoted to CPS when the parents put the kids on an ATV with a drunk ordered by the court to have no contact with the kids, and he rolled it, it caught fire, and one got a concussion. THEY DID NOTHING. Adult Protection came and offered me a ride to court when my son tied to get an order of protection against me, but were a no show. Turns out she called me, asked for my son and told him to tell me she couldn’t give me a ride. Five days later I woke up in ICU beaten almost to death, and the cops gave me an order of protection from my son, who kept everything I possessed and wiped out my bank account. Left with no help but from the adult protection worker who was no help. Although my son was arrested, they left the children in home until my son pushed his wife off the balcony of a high rise building and while in prison the CPS lady visited him several times, but never me, who has legal visitation with kids since they were small. To top it off, CPS won’t allow me to see the children, although the order of protection against me was dropped long ago. We are going to court. I’m on trial. And not real sure I can to any good for the kids since they and I have been so traumatized and abused by their parents and the system.
You are correct, no one is going to help you but you. The police could care less and have no understanding of the structures of abuse. One even said he was not a social worker!
Our local domestic abuse shelter, where i volunteered for a while, even said they had been trying to hold classes on DV with the police and they just don’t get it or don’t want to.
However, seeking out female officers and female attorneys is often a good idea. They tend to know someone, like all of us do, that has been abused. They will listen more closely as this is most often a female problem.
I obtained a stalker from work who infiltrated my neighborhood. It was amazing how many were wiling l to participate after being told i was a child abuser. They spread the word loud and fast and were all over the harassment. Problem is none of it was true and you can’t defend yourself others have to do it for you and they don’t want to get involved. My ex husband followed this same pattern. My mother is also a narcissist and this is most likely where I learned to be a victim. So, I have to learn to set boundaries and go all “Bad Ass” on people now. Sad, but true.