Things That Abuse Survivors Know But Abuse Victims Don't
First I need to clarify something. There are no domestic abuse victims reading this post. I know that because if you are an abuse victim, you're online researching troubled relationships and self-help information aimed at fixing a frazzled marriage. You certainly are not searching for information about any "abuse victim". In my mind, abuse victims do not know they are abuse victims. Abuse victims truly do not recognize the abuse as abuse.
If you know and admit that you're in an abusive relationship, then you are no longer a victim. You are a survivor of domestic abuse. Only survivors read this blog, pure and simple. That said, you may wonder why I am writing an article for an abuse victim who will never read it. Because I want to remind you, the survivor, just how far you've come in your efforts to end abuse in your life.
ONE: I know that I am not "The Problem"
Abuse victims think that they're responsible for their horrible relationship. They believe the abuser when s/he says "This is all your fault!" Victims look too deeply inside themselves for a cure to their mental and emotional issues instead of looking outward and placing the responsibility for abuse on their jerky partner's shoulders.
This isn't to say that I, the survivor, have no issues whatsoever and am as innocent as the baby deer born in the yard last week. No. I am human; therefore, I have issues. I am a survivor of domestic abuse; therefore, one of my issues could be codependency. I know that ABUSE is (was) a problem in my relationship and that my issue of codependency enabled my ex-husband's controlling behaviors to work.
However, codependency is an "issue" - not a life sentence. I don't have to react to abuse like I once did, and I don't have to feel the same way when it happens either. Which takes us to number...
TWO: I know that I control my actions and reactions
Abuse victims "react" to abuse habitually and rarely consider the fact that they are in charge of their actions and reactions to abusive behaviors. For example, back in the days of my victimhood, I remember "reacting" how my ex-husband expected me to react. I knew whether he wanted to fight or if he wanted to lecture stupid lil' me. I reacted to his abuse appropriately to avoid more pain. I thought I was clever, but I could not shield myself entirely from absorbing his hateful words.
To play the game, I had to believe that he was at least a bit superior to me. His ability to "control his emotions" made him feel more secure in the relationship. My demonstrations of a lack of emotional control fed his ego, drove the beast back inside of him, and ultimately kept me safer than acting like a sane person would have.
No more. Now I know that when I feel angry, sad, hurt (or any other emotion) that I am able to run that emotion through the question, "What do I want to do with this emotion?" How do I want to express my anger? How do I want to talk about my sadness? Is the urgency of this emotion worth it to me to risk looking or acting like an idiot? [One time in the past year, the answer to the last question was "yes"!]
Also, as a survivor, I've learned that "What do I want to do with this sudden happiness?" is an important question to ask myself when I am speaking with an abusive person. Hint: Abusers will exploit happiness. Save that emotion for people who won't use it against you.
THREE: I know that I don't need "you" to be happy
The abuser convinces their victim that they cannot ever be happy without the abuser. Sequestered in that dome of a lie, the abuse victim does not consider leaving their partner. Instead, the abuse victim attempts to find happiness within the confines of their abusive relationship. Their attempt to be happy includes standing up to the abuser, submitting to the abuser, and manipulating the abuser. Anytime an attempt to create happiness fails, the abuse victim views it as a failure on their part of not being enough of something. Not smart enough, not funny enough, not good enough.
I know that I can be happy with or without any person. I may desire to be with you with all my heart, but if being with you isn't possible (or if "you" hurt me), then I can be happy all on my own. The moon is just as romantic and my world just as colorful whether you are in it or not. I may want you, but I don't have to be with you to feel happiness.
So, dear survivors, what else do you know that an abuse victim does not?
Holly, K. (2013, June 23). Things That Abuse Survivors Know But Abuse Victims Don't, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2013/06/top-3-things-i-know-that-an-abuse-victim-does-not
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Your past is a matter of perspective. How do you CHOOSE to use it? Will you use your past to enrich your present or to deny yourself the gift of the new life you have before you? I choose to enrich my present <3
Made decisions. My partner wanted no part of doing the things most couples do. Over time as his manipulation increased and he began to exert more and more power I became more and more dependent. It wasnot by choice but by his taking every single bit of me away.
People have said to me, "you were in a co-dependent relationship." I came into the relationship dependent on only me, good job, friends, a good life. When it was over after 22 years I was broken, broke and near death. I still cannot grasp the co-dependency part.
You didn't go into the relationship as a co-dependent. It is POSSIBLE that living the abuser's reality as if it were "normal" caused you to have symptoms of co-dependency. Instead of "symptoms", I like to think of them as behaviors and thoughts. Instead of "being codependent" I like to think of it as "having taken on coping strategies that would work in a normal relationship (which is not exaggerated as an abusive one is), but cause nothing but harm in an abusive one."
In your case as in mine and many other play-toys of abusers, we are not codependent by nature. We learned it. That means we can unlearn it. You don't really have to grasp what "being codependent" is or even wonder for a second if you're somehow deficient. Just read the symptoms of codependency, see if your thoughts/behaviors are listed there, and use them as guides for change.