People just "don't get it"
Date: 8/6/2011 11:40:35 AM ( 10 y ) ... viewed 29497 times
One of the prevalent responses that victims of domestic violence and/or abuse experience is the, "You're CRAZY!" judgement whether they remain with their abusers, or choose to leave them. Chances are that peripheral friends and extended family members are dubious about the relationship, but are completely unaware of just "how bad" the environment truly is, especially if children are involved. The victim is "crazy" for staying, yet just as "crazy" if they make the decision to leave - it's a Catch 22 where the victim is damned for staying, and double-damned for leaving.
In my case, I put forth so much energy in presenting the "perfect" public image of comraderie, cooperation, and mutual love/respect, that people literally had no idea of the depths of abuse that ran rampant behind our closed doors. In a previous blog post, I mentioned being placed on the defensive and feeling the need to "explain" my actions when I made the decision to leave. What happened to me happens to everyone who leaves a situation of violence and abuse. The only people who seem to offer encouragement, support, and understanding are those who have experienced it, themselves. Even law enforcement disdains answering domestic violence calls because they don't know what they're going to be greeted with, and the victim will typically refuse to file a complaint and return to the abuser. They do not understand the dynamics of Stockholm Syndrome, nor the mind-set of the typical victim.
By the time a victim actually follows through with contacting law enforcement, they do it just to make the violence stop - whether or not they intend to file charges is always a toss up, but typically landing on a refusal to follow through with filing a complaint. Emergency rooms often see domestic violence/abuse victims with the abuser in the same room - the victim has previously been threatened and assured that the slightest hint that the abuser caused the injuries will be met with even harsher (how is that possible?) punishment when the victim is released. Often, the abuser appears concerned, but maintains close quarters with the victim - if the abuser is asked to leave the room for any reason, they become defensive and aggressively attempt to remain in close proximity to monitor everything the victim says, with special attention paid to the victim's body-language.
The victim already believes that they're crazy because they've been told that they are, and the brainwashing technique of "crazy-making" is so complete that the victim is conditioned to believe that anything that they might say or do will be wrong. For instance, the former abuser used to punch me in my shoulder - specifically, where the rotator cuff would sustain the most damage. When I would cry out or tell him that he had seriously hurt me, the former abuser would respond with, "No, I didn't." Now, my effort to describe the pain and inability to use the affected limb was met with a stony glare and, often, another punch to the arm. The lesson there was to keep my mouth shut, don't plead for acknowledgement of violence, and never, ever expect an apology. This was nearly always done in front of our children who were fearful that they were next. To take away the perception of violence, I would pass this behavior off as "horseplay" after it became clear that the former abuser was not going to acknowledge the damage that he had inflicted. The MENTAL crazymaking goes more like this (from the website www.lisascott.com):
"The dictionary definition of gaslighting is “to drive someone crazy” and narcissists use this method to keep their victims under their control....
One forum member's ex-husband used to change the button on her pants to make them smaller so she thought she was gaining weight. This is just one example from members. The list is endless.
Put quite simply, gaslighting is a form of brainwashing. The narcissist denies that events ever occurred or certain things were said. This causes the victim to doubt what they’re hearing and seeing to the point that they begin to question their sanity.
When this technique is first used on someone, initially they know better. However, over time, the victim begins to believe the gaslighter. They start to believe they are imagining things, have some kind of mental illness or faulty memory. When one doubts their perception of reality, the gaslighter is able to control that person because they become completely dependent on the gaslighter for the truth.
A common tactic of a narcissist is to project their own issues on to their victim. This is an attempt to hide any actions or truths they do not want brought to light about themselves. It is their hope that by projecting issues of their own onto you it will distract you from their malignant behavior.
A narcissist wants you to believe you have problems and issues only he can understand and only he is willing to tolerate. By doing this, he believes you will begin to feel unlovable in some strange paranoid way and never leave him out of fear of rejection in the future."
Interestingly enough, I have found that a greater percentage of victims and Survivors had unintentionally developed the ability to store incident data details with incedible clarity, and that includes myself. I can recall the date, time, and circumstances (including direct quotes) that prompted me to demand a divorce, on both occasions. I can recall specific events in precise detail. This "ability" is, in my unprofessional and most humble opinion, a mechanism of defense that victims develop in an unintentional effort to save their sanity. They know that the abuser said (or, did) something specific, and the abuser insists that what was said (or, done) never occurred. In an attempt to save their sanity and demonstrate the harm that the abuser is inflicting, the victim will file away details that they would otherwise never feel compelled to remember. Yet, the victim's sanity and memory is constantly called into question by their abuser, and they either eventually succumb to the brainwashing, or determine that they're on a destructive course and take steps to extract themselves (and, any children involved) from the situation.
This crazy-making technique translates into interactions with people who are outside of the core of violence and abuse. As I said, people may have dubious feelings or opinions of the relationship, but they are not privvy to what's actually going on. Because a larger percentage of abusers do not fall into the perception of the typical batterer, most abusers are able to charm, cajole, and lie their way into the good graces of extended family members, coworkers, and mutual friends. Lifelong friends of victims are abandoned as per the wishes and designs of the abuser (divide & conquer), so the only "friends" that the victim has are those that have been chosen and screened by the abuser - peopel who pose no threat to the abuser's control.
The outward appearance of the truly typical abuser is one of sensitivity, undying "love" for their victims, and a general "confusion" over the victim's obvious Mental Issues, which the abuser never fails to point out to the victim, and peripheral individuals. The victim is portrayed as a troubled, confused, and quite unstable individual while the abuser presents themselves as hard-pressed and beleaguered. People just don't "get it" when it comes to sizing up a perpetrator of domestic violence and/or abuse.
But, why don't people "get it?" Simply put, people who are not directly involved in the violent or abusive environment believe that nobody would deliberately harm someone else without good reason. Unless someone has experienced domestic violence and/or abuse, they cannot fathom what's actually occuring, even in their wildest imaginings. That one person intends to harm another person without actually murdering them is foreign to them. Then, if a victim complains, the non-victim cocks their head in shock and disbelief and asks, "Why don't you just leave, then?" OR, "You have three children, so you surely must love one another. What did you do to upset her?"
I put this querie to anyone reading this entry: How many times have you watched a movie, seen a television show, or watched a news report where someone is being physically or emotionally battered, and say (usually, out loud), "Oh, HELL NO! He/she would NEVER get do that to ME!" People who insist that they could/would never be victims are either Truthfully strong enough to see the red flags, or they are in utter denial and are ignorant of the dynamics of domestic violence and/or abuse. Anyone can be, and is, a victim. There are no boundaries on race, creed, spirituality, culture, economic status, social status, age, gender orientation, education, ethnic origin, or any other demographic definition. Domestic violence and abuse is a disease that has reached, and passed beyond, epidemic proportions, and continues growing at an exponential rate.
I was one of those people who believed in the "goodness of mankind" and did not know (nor, could I imagine) that there are human beings out there who were either born with, or were conditioned to move through society without a shred of remorse for their actions. I even used to tell people that I trusted everyone until I was given a reason not to trust them. I wanted to believe that all people were salvageable, and that they all just needed "a chance" to improve themselves. I wanted to believe that nobody really meant to hurt other people, including people who were convicted criminals - they had all just had the wrong upbringing, or had been born into a deprived environment. Once the Truth of domestic violence and abuse settled onto my shoulders, it was a harrowing epiphany to realize that there are, indeed, people who intend to harm with deliberate malice, and this Truth was probably harder for me to accept than the fact that I had allowed myself to be targeted and victimized.
There is so much information on the web about domestic violence and abuse, gaslighting, narcissism, sociopathy, etc., that I can't post all of the sites on a single blog entry. I encourage readers to "Google" the terms, above, and educate themselves, their friends, their family members, and others about the dynamics of abuse, the statistics, and sociopathy in relation to domestic violence and abuse in an all-out effort to put a dent into this epidemic, at the very least. Spread the word: education is power, ignorance is foolish.
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