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 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.