How Abusers Control Their Victims

by | Oct 25, 2022 | It's Complex...PTSD | 0 comments

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Trigger Warning

The following post deals with victim grooming and abuse. Maybe it won’t trigger you, but it certainly triggered me. I had to take breaks while writing parts of this. And I cried a lot, so please know that this will most likely trigger you. BTW, I am okay. After I wrote this, I took a break and added items to my Amazon Xmas Wish List. Self-care, people. It is the little things.

how abusers groom victimsHow Abusers Groom Victims

Abusers control and manipulate their victims by grooming them. Unfortunately, grooming opens the door so anyone can be a victim of abuse, regardless of age, gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Abusers must groom their victims to maintain control and convince others that it is the victim who needs help.

They may seem like the perfect partner or parents when out in public. But abusers groom their victims to present a “perfect” image to the outside world. Then, their victim “on board” with their outward charm further convinces their friends and family that all is well.

I was a victim of abuse for eighteen years. My mother made my life hell with constant verbal and emotional abuse, insults, and put-downs. And before my father left, he was sexually and physically abusing me.

But out in public, I was taught not to let on what was happening to me. If I had indicated that not all was right at home, my life would have been much worse.

And if I had indicated that my life was hell, my parents would have denied it anyway. The public listens to parents more than the kids. And my life would have become worse. I learned very early on that no one would help me. No one would listen to me. And so, I maintained my silence.  

Did you know the term “gaslighting” comes from the 1940 movie Gaslight?

Abusers were grooming women so much that they made a movie about it.

What is Grooming?

Grooming is a tactic used by abusers to establish power and control over their victims. It typically involves establishing or using existing emotional bonds to manipulate the victim’s perception of the abuse. Gaslighting is a common way abusers groom their victims.

My father’s ability to groom his victims was monstrous. My mother attempted suicide and was subsequently committed to a mental hospital. Her hospitalization also got her out of the way so he could continue grooming me. For him, that was a win-win situation.

Unfortunately, there was a recent news story showing the effects of grooming. You can read the entire article here.

As you read this article, note how the victim takes responsibility for the abuse she is enduring. The deplorable human being groomed her to believe he abuses her because she has done something wrong.

This is more disgusting because he is an attorney working with domestic violence cases. And he is a judge candidate?! 

C’mon, people of Michigan. You can do better.

What Grooming Feels Like

Okay, this will be hard for me because I must go back into a part of my brain that I usually leave alone – my emotional memories. But I want to share what grooming feels like and how the manipulation occurs. So, here goes. The following two paragraphs are what was going on within my mind during my parents grooming me as their victim.

My Father Grooming Me

This is wrong. I do not like what is happening.

how abusers groom victimsBut my father is telling me it’s okay, he loves me, so this must be love, right? Is this love? It doesn’t feel right, but he is my father. I am supposed to respect him. And I trust him, do I trust him? he is my father, but I don’t like this; I am scared, but he is telling me that he loves me. Only he loves me like this. No one else loves me. I am alone. This is love, then? This is what loves feels like? It must be because he tells me.

I am loved. This is love.

My Mother Grooming Me

I am a good person. I know this to be true.

I am confused. Other people in my life tell me that I am kind and nice. But my mother says otherwise. I get in trouble all of the time. She screams at me all of the time. I can’t do anything right. I am always wrong. But am I? Am I really that bad? I don’t think so, but she says I am. She says that I am good for nothing. She says I can’t do anything right. She says I manipulate other people into thinking I am a good person, just like my father. Just like my father, I have people fooled. It must be true; otherwise, why would she tell me that?

I am a terrible person. I am just like my father.

Grooming Goes on for Years

Grooming takes time. It doesn’t happen right away. Unfortunately, the slow grooming process is why many victims do not realize what is happening.

My father was a daily presence in my life from my earliest memory to when he left. I was about ten years old (I think – time is weird when being abused). Before he went, he ramped up the grooming. I think to ensure that I would lie to the courts during my parents’ divorce proceedings.

My mother’s abuse lasted much longer. I lived with my mother for eighteen years. And every day, that is what I went through. I was compared to my other abuser, verbally and emotionally abused, and, overall, the family scapegoat.

Would you be able to withstand that onslaught and hold onto your truth? No. No one can. And that is the reason grooming is so effective and insidious.

Oops, I did it again. I wrote over 2500 words on this one. So, I divided it into two blog posts. If you want to read about how I escaped and the people who helped me, I will post that part Thursday, October 27th.

If it wasn’t for therapy, I couldn’t have come to a point in my life to write about my life and my experiences growing up in an abusive home. Therapy helped me to begin to heal from that abuse.

That healing has given me the strength and insight to write about these things. So please, if you grew up similar to how I did, are currently in that situation, or have been in abusive relationships, please seek out therapy. I know it will help you as much as it did me. I recommend Online-Therapy.* Take that first step. You won’t regret it.

* I receive compensation from Online-Therapy when you use my referral link. I only recommend products and services when I believe in them.

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