Thursday, July 31, 2008

Self-Blame is Not Guilt! (It is not an invitation for abuse!)

From David Stoop's "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves"

"We regularly see an interesting phenomenon occur among adults who were abused as children. Thy experience an overwhelming need to cast blame somewhere. Because of the dynamics of childhood – where adults are bigger and more powerful, and therefore perceived as “always right” – abuse victims invariably place the blames on themselves." (pg. 246)

Posted on "Overcoming Botkin Syndrome"
Read more HERE.


From Pia Mellody's "Facing Love Addiction"

In adult relationships, the person [the child who was neglected or abandoned] will see himself/herself as “one down” and the other person "one up."

Read more HERE.


From "Is There Life After Abuse? Victim Characteristics"

"...It's common to hear it said of a person who has been victimized that they were predisposed to the condition, because of either weakness or character deviciences...on the contrary...victims are generally chosen for the positive qualities they have, which the abuser then seeks to appropriate...
[V]ictims are equally vulnerable to other people's criticisms and judgements even when they aren't valid, and they continually justify themselves. Abusers, sensing this weakness, take delight in instilling doubt. 'Maybe I was unconsciously guilty of what he's accusing me of?' Even if the accusations are unfair, they are no longer sure of their facts and ask themselves if they shouldn't assume the blame anyway. Both abuser and his vicim behave in an extreme fashion. Their critical faculties become unbalanced, intensifying outwardly for the abuser and inwardly for the victim. The victims virtually assume the other's guilt. They internalize the abusive element attacking them: the look, the gestures, and the words. The narcissistic abusers are able to project their guilt onto the victim. Denial is the only weapon an abuser needs to create doubt after an attack..."

Quoted from Marie-France Hirigoyen in Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity

Typically, a victim is or has:

Low self esteem and feelings of shame. Often those in abusive relationships feel that they have attracted a batterer or they may have developed a "pattern" of getting into relationships with partners who hurt, degrade, humiliate, hit or otherwise abuse them. Over time the repeated insults, threats, put downs and verbal trashing from their partners wears away at the mental energy to fight back or to keep up a positive image of oneself. Shame traps many victims, having a pervasive influence on the self, relationships with others, and emotional experiences (shame as emotional abuse).

Self Blame for Abuser's Actions, believes the myths about battering relationships and believes the batterer when they use these myths as excuses for the behavior. The classic statement here is: "if I didn't do....then I wouldn't get hit" - or: "my partner only abuses me when I do something wrong" or: "I shouldn't have made my partner angry enough to hit me". This dialogue doesn't only come from within the victim, but is often mirrorer by the abuser who is always there to reinforce the idea that the abuse is the result of a failure on the part of the victim. The problem here is: everyone has moments of disappointment, anger, even rage; but the decision of how to REACT to or EXPRESS those feelings is a personal choice made by the abuser, NOT something brought on by the victim. An abuser can make the choice to talk through an issue or to leave the room until they cool down. The decision to abuse, and thus the responsibility for the violence ALWAYS rests with the abuser.
Read more HERE at "There is Life After Abuse.


Some popular theories on why self blame happens are:
* If it was all our fault at the time- then changing that behavior can prevent it from ever happening again. Losing control is a basic human fear. It's more comfortable to believe that we always had control over our lives .The truth is that we didn't have control then - the perp did have control over our bodies and lives for that brief period.

What is important to know is that we have control over our healing process NOW. Posting on support groups, seeking therapy and learning coping skills are just a few ways to take back control. This is associated with the assumptive world theory on self blame.

* People want to believe that the world is just. This means that if something bad happens that no one can fix or explain - we think we deserved it for some cosmic reason. The term victim means that someone did something bad to a good person. People resort to the just world theory because there isn't much known in the general public about how to help us. This concept is associated with the just world theory.

* Sometimes it's because no one supported us when we reported. It is easier to believe that a rape victim lied than to believe that someone would commit such a horrible crime. This is also a part of the just world theory.

* Do you ever get angry at the wrong person when you have repressed anger? Getting mad at someone who is "safe" to yell at - when a dangerous person really deserves it is pretty common. The dangerous person might find out and retaliate. Turning anger and blame against yourself may be part of this problem. This is a concept associated with Stockholm Syndrome.

* A related scenario of self blame : Children of divorce often self-blame. No matter what anyone else says the child believes that they could have stopped the divorce by being better. The lessons we learn in childhood are the ones that stick with us the longest, so once you start self-blaming (for whatever reason) it grows and mutates into something bigger.

From the Rape Crisis Information Pathfinder