“Victims blame…”

by Annie Kaszina on June 2, 2006

A couple of weeks ago I invited a
dear friend to stay for the weekend.  S. is someone I met some 5 years ago.  We
were both leaving toxic relationships and we met the first time we both attended
the same domestic violence support group. 

S. is probably the most talented
woman I have ever met.  Still, 5 years later, while things have changed
for her also, she has barely moved forward.

Like everyone, she has challenges
and blessings; the challenges are considerable, so, too, are the blessings. 

A weekend is the longest time I
have spent with this woman whom I love dearly.  By the end of it, I felt
absolutely drained.  S. can home in on the negative in anything within
about 30 seconds. 

She arrived, weighed down by a
vast array of physical baggage (including, inexplicably, her mattress).  It
seemed like the physical manifestation of all the emotional baggage she brought
with her. 

The idea had been to provide her
with a break, and a haven, from the everyday demands on her; including the
demands of her two delightful, exasperating children.  I doubt that she actually
experienced the change of scenery as a break.

S. lives with a burning regret for
the person she was before; before meeting her abusive partner, before
the children, before so many things.  She may, or may not, have been as strong,
independent and self-reliant as she thinks she once was. 

More importantly, she is nowhere
near as helpless, hopeless and resource-less as she now believes she
is. It is as if she alone does not deserve to entertain even the occasional
positive thought. 

S.’s abusive partner behaved
towards her in a predictably vile way.  Like her parents before him, he blamed
her for everything; for his problems, their children, her behaviour, her health
problems.  It was one of those ‘you name it, she’s to blame for it’ situations. 
Like most of us, S. ended up believing that pretty much everything must be her
fault one way or another.

Five years on, she still blames
herself and her circumstances. 

What happened to her was never her
fault.  Nor are any of the difficulties that she is experiencing now her fault. 
It never was a question of fault or blame.  S. is simply one of those good
people to whom bad things – and bad people – have happened.  (As have good
things, and good people, also.)

Unfortunately, hers is not a
mind-set that empowers her to move on.  Nor does it offer her children a role
model that will help make them less vulnerable, in their turn to
abusers.

Whoever it was who said: “With one
leg in the past and one foot in the future, you can only urinate on the present”
was right.  With one eye firmly on her past perceived shortcomings and the other
on the bleak future that she knows (and how, pray, can she know for
sure?
) will surely come to pass, she is blind to all the opportunities and
satisfactions that the present might afford her. 

There can be no doubt that her
ex-partner is responsible – or, if you prefer, to blame – for his
deplorable treatment of her.  There can be no doubt that he, like her parents,
conditioned her to view her world in terms of fault and blame. 

As long as she remains with that
viewpoint she perpetrates her victim mind-set. 

Yes, of course she has been
victimized.  Now, her recovery hinges on her challenging and rejecting the
victim mind-set. 

Because things have happened to
her that should not happen to anyone, that does not mean that in the future she
will be denied the same satisfactions, joys and possibilities that are available
to other people.  It has been different for her in the past.  But there
is no reason why it should be in the future.  She can yet move from the stagnant
holding pool of abuse, back into the mainstream.

 

 

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