My last post I wrote about an article I had found online that did a book review for 'No Place For Abuse".
I received a comment, and additional issues started to pop into my head. How regular advice turns into actual enabling of the abusive relationship. Here is the excellent comment in question.
Hannah, a supportive friend sent me that article before I left my abusive relationship. At that time, I was thrilled that a Christian article endorsed separation, because my advice was that I could not or should not separate.Thank you Anonymous!
But reading another article on the site (gotquestions.org) about divorce for abuse concerned me. Although there isn't anywhere to respond or comment, there are contact details so you can write to them. That's what I did, and my concerns were exactly what you referred to. It is incredible how people dismiss the experience of the abused victim and deny her the right to judge or observe the abusers' changes. Her safety is also discounted, with the recommendation to reconcile taking priority as soon as things look "safe". There is no acknowledgment of the abusive cycle, or the manipulative tactics involved.
But the great thing is that I saw the recommendation for that book and being new to all of this, I was hungry. One thing led to another, and I slowly gained more information and insight to abusive behavior, and eventually separated.
Thanks for your post - if only more people challenged the type of thinking propagated by that article.
If there is one thing I see over and over again on advice to victims is to 'think the best' of their abuser.
Concentrate on the good things.
Look at the positives.
I think you get my drift here.
The victim mindset is normally geared to 'think about the positive' aspects of their abuser. At times they go to great lengths to place themselves in a negative light JUST so their abuser is thought about in a better one.
They are willing throw themselves 'under the bus' as the saying goes for the benefit of the abuser.
People that claim they understand the power and control aspect of domestic violence within the church? They tend to take the assets and debits at face value. They don't see this as part of the cycle, and yet again they show how little they truly do know.
What people tend to do when victims point out NOT so nice things about their partner? They apply stereotypes towards them. They are being to negative, and can't think of nice things to say. They need to take their 'black and white' view of things off for a moment, and stop viewing things as they are cutting the spouse down, being negative, etc.
If everyone has to be so 'nicey nice' all the time is it any wonder why people don't go to the church before things get really bad?
People get so caught up with this 'preconceived' ideas that if someone states one thing in frustration or anger they are half the issue. They aren't thinking enough of the good traits of the spouse. Victims like most people will either 'own' the fact they are awful person for even showing that 'disrespect', or will get defensive because most people only hear and deal with one nasty portion they mentioned and nothing else.
It may seem easy to most to 'stick' to negative thinking about your spouse, because we hear church ranting and raving about that all the time. Victims at times will actually do this as well, but if you look beyond the surface stuff? The coping mechanism most of the time is doing just the opposite - think the best and make excuses for them. They may at times voice their frustration, but most of the time their 'self talk' goes in the opposite direction.
Victims throw out surface stuff to see what the reaction will be. It like sticking your toe into the water to see how COLD it is!
They are a good parent, but when they drink they get nasty.
They are good spouse, but tend to be very jealous if someone even looks at me - or I at them.
The reactions I see a lot:
Are you both Christians? Have you spoke to your pastor? Are you counseling? What is your definition of 'drink to much'? Is their infidelity in your past, and is that why they are jealous? Are they stressed at work? What are doing to serve your partner so they don't go there in their thoughts? You need to make sure you don't concentrate to much on the bad stuff, and remember they are good parent and spouse! If you spend to much time in the negative aspects you will be come hard hearted, and you will make them react worse!Ever notice how advice tends to border line encouragement of codependency?
Alot of the times victims have a hard time even getting to 'but' part of the sentence, and when they are brave enough to finally do that? People around them already have this 'image' of the abusive person in their head, and they just can't fathom that the extreme negative aspects that victims tend to 'hint' at.
You said they were a good parent/spouse, so maybe you are taking this to far!
Waffling is a term people use about victims going back and forth over being 'angry' at their circumstance, or feeling 'sorry' for the abuser. We all need empathy, but victims tend to take it to far. If they would just be 'nicer' or 'more understanding' the abuser won't abuse.
If I follow the recommendations of the police that filed a restraining order? My partner will get more depressed. They will get angry with me. They may lose their job. I just want someone to help me, and to help them! If I would have just kept my mouth shut that night he/she wouldn't have been arrested, and I wouldn't be in this place. I made things worse. What happens with the children? They are scared, but they love him/her also. They may blame me. Is it my fault? Why does he/she do this?
What they miss is balance. They are so confused that they are indecisive and can't make up their minds.
This may be a trait that some have had all their lifes in dealing with relationships, or the abuser fostered this to use to their advantage. Waffling is helpful the abuser, because it is a aspect they can use to get themselves off the hook regarding accountability. Doubt is a aspect abusers use as a weapon, and have no problems turning it around to their advantage.
People may be incapable of decisions at the beginning, but with help and support that can turn around.
People that try to help support victims and their families tend to miss the 'waffling' aspect of this.
Its a lingering aspect that is part of the power and control cycle that people claim they understand, and this is one aspect where they show their ignorance by not connecting the dots.
The waffling is a by product of the abusive relationship, and a tool the abuser used to keep them in their 'place'. Abusive people will use this to their advantage, because confusion can easily be used as a 'power over' aspect.
Think only the Best of Them!
This is another red hot area people completely dismiss within the abusive relationships. "Thinking the Best of Them' has been used as a coping mechanism for the relationship itself. Victims use this all the time just to be able to deal with their reality. They forever are making up excuses for their abusers actions, and only focusing on the positive in order to live in denial with all they have within them.
Thinking the best of someone can be enabling instead of helpful to victims. This advice is good when you are dealing with a healthy couple, but with an abusive one? You are asking the victim to use a coping tool they have used for a long time, because mentioning anything BUT the good can be dangerous.
They may have brought up things in the past 'softly', and it was turned around on them. Abusers show them - because they are incapable processing anything negative about themselves - that they brought things up wrong, its actually the victim issue not them, or if you don't like it get f*ck out!
Helping parties don't realize their 'Think the best of Them' is received the same way. You have now placed them in the corner, and they are ready for the attack.
In it's true form, Enabling behavior means something positive. It's our natural instinct to reach out and help someone we love when they are down or having problems.
However, when we apply it to certain problems in living - domestic violence, financial trouble, codependency, certain forms of chronic depression -- enabling behaviors have the reverse effect of what is intended.
Victims tend to 'look for the good aspects' so they don't have to deal with the ones that are dangerous.
Victims don't need to 'think the best of them', because they could hand you volumes of information on that subject.
They need help with dealing with the not so nice parts.
They can give you all kinds of excuses for the behavior as well, because it has been drilled into them. The Abuser's bad childhood, their drug, drink, or p#rn habits. They have an awful boss, and their family doesn't cooperate. Abusers basically drill into victims they are the 'true victims'. They can't help themselves. The victims role is to make their world safe and comfortable - anything less? They failed at their job once again.
To think the BEST of them is another advantage people hand over to the abuser with the power and control cycle.
The abusers will tell them they don't think enough of the GOOD stuff, and their behavior is the end product of that. They basically hint that even others know victims are pushing their buttons, and why can't they grasp their abusive behavior is a reaction to such.
If you would THINK the best of me like everyone says? You would forgive and forget! Since you can never do that you are actually 'abusing' me! Don't you ever think of anyone but yourself? Everyone knows how selfish you are!People assume because they can identify the difference EVERYONE can! They don't apply the 'abusive dynamic mindset', and use normal healthy thinking instead.
When parties that wish to help they must place the normal family dynamics to the side. There is always an ugly twist to those that abusers use to their advantage, and you will miss your opportunity if you can't separate the two.
Waffling and "Thinking the best of them" are tools of survival within the abusive relationship. People not able to identify the unhealthy use of these aspects? They will not help anyone, but will allow the abuser to have the upper hand once again.
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