Most abuse victims erroneously believe that they are somehow responsible for their abuse. This is because our brains constantly draw connections between our actions and the consequences of those actions, sometimes coming to conclusions where none should be made. When we procrastinate, it’s because our unconscious brain thinks that procrastination is a “good” idea because it creates immediate relief from an unpleasant task. Obviously, procrastination is a terrible idea as it often makes the unpleasant task even more unpleasant. In abusive situations, it is normal for the victim’s brain to wrongly conclude that the abuse is happening because the victim is not ‘good enough’. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Look at others in abusive situations
Think of an abuser who has been caught and examine your beliefs about those situations. For example, look at how Larry Nassar sexually abused a very large number of gymnasts and other athletes under his care. There are over 265 identified victims. Would you blame any of his victims for what happened to them? Of course not! You wouldn’t tell any of the victims that:
- They caused the abuse because they are worthless.
- They caused the abuse because they aren’t good enough to deserve love.
- The abuse didn’t happen because he chose to be a monster. The abuse happened because the victims chose to be ‘bad’.
- The victims should stick around in the abusive situation so that they can change their abuser. They just need to love their abuser harder.
- They should stick around because of fear.
- They should stick around because they have an obligation to him for all of the good things he has done for them.
- They should stick around because of guilt as turning him in would be wrong. Preventing him from abusing others would be wrong.
- They should tell lies to protect their abuser.
Do not apply double standards to yourself! Victims are not to blame so why would you treat yourself differently? It may be hard, but try to correct yourself when you start thinking that you somehow deserved the abuse. Recognize that any feelings of worthlessness, not being good enough, fear, obligation, and guilt are illogical even if they feel extremely real to you. No one can guarantee that it will be easy. But, do not trick yourself into thinking things that aren’t true.
The stigma of mental health issues
Having mental roadblocks that prevent you from leaving is a very serious mental health issue that society doesn’t talk about. If your friends and family understand how terrible your situation is, they will likely be extremely confused and upset as to why you didn’t leave right away. While they understand procrastination because it is such a common mental issue, they likely will not understand abuse. You may be extremely confused as to what is going on. You may feel alone in the world because others don’t understand what’s going on. This is normal. But, don’t let it get in the way of your recovery. There have been many people in the world who have gone through situations similar to yours. You are not alone.
You can help yourself
Start with this free guide: 7 quick lessons on overcoming abuse. The first two lessons will teach you how to immediately reduce the drama in your life by boring your abuser off. In the long term, you will want to start dismantling your mental roadblocks. Self-therapy (explained in this guide) is an easy way to get started without having to divulge your secrets to a stranger; it does not involve risking money on a therapist who may invalidate you or get you hooked on dangerous psychiatric drugs. Do your own research and find out a path that is right for you.
Above all else, I would urge you to take the first step towards recovery. Don’t let the damage pile on. The lasting mental effects of abuse can last a lifetime and can hurt you far more than a broken bone would. Please take care of yourself and I wish you the best in your recovery journey.