Abuse is Victim Manipulation
Every conversation about abuse needs to include victim manipulation because that is what must happen for the abuse to continue. The victim endures it somehow, whether they want to or not.
And that is where the manipulation becomes imperative.
It’s amazing, really, the manipulation that goes along with abuse. How much the abuser must push and twist the knife of manipulation to get the victim to be a victim.
If either of my abusers had put even half of that energy into dealing with their own shit, they could have been okay. At the very least, it would have started them on a path that didn’t involve abusing their children. But, like most abusers, something was missing within them. I don’t know what that thing is, but I know neither of them had it.
I have gone round and round trying to find the answers to why my parents were the way they were (or are because neither of them has changed) and then, of course, why me, but I end up chasing my own tail. It is the age-old game of “if only” or “what if.”
However, I do ask “why,” which I then changed to “what happened” after reading What Happened to You?: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing (paid link) by Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce D. Perry. I think asking “what happened” helps to answer the question “why.” Sort of.
Somethings of Life
I don’t have all the details to answer the question, “what happened to either of my parents,” but I know enough that many things happened. And those “somethings” are valid.
And neither of my parents needed to become abusive because of those somethings. Somewhere in their lives, they chose to go the path of least resistance and become abusers.
Why Didn’t I?
Now, you may be thinking that no one chooses to become abusive. But if that is the case, then why didn’t I? If we are all products of our upbringing, then I should be an abuser. I have all the experiences that would lead me down that path.
By all accounts, I should be an abusive person between the abuse, the grooming, and the victim manipulation. But I am not. Because I chose not to, and it has been the harder path.
I am estranged from my family, lost friends, or removed people from my life because they are detrimental to my healing. My healing, in part, is my fight NOT to be an abuser.
So, both of my parents had choices and made choices throughout their lives. I look back on what I know of my mother’s life, and I think she was always a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. She felt like she was never what other people wanted her to be.
Her father wanted her to be a boy (she is the third of three daughters and the last child), society told her to be a good little doting wife (her intelligence is far superior to most anyone’s) and a mother (again, talent lost on the little ones that came into her life and continued to ruin her).
That is the sadness that I found within her. And those sadnesses are valid.
And the great irony is that the one thing that would have truly changed her life for the better, not to be an abusive asshat. She chose not to do that. I saw that moment, the subtle internal struggle, and I had hope. If only for a moment.
That moment of hope changed as she turned to me, eyes narrowed, lips tightened into a line, and she said, “What did he tell you? You two, always going off, just the two of you. What do you know?”
She was, of course, referring to the times that my father would take me out to molest me. And during those moments made, me his confidant. I knew he would leave the family, and I said nothing. I said nothing because I thought his leaving was for the best.
But then my mother chose wrong. And I knew then there was no escape.
Therapy was and still is instrumental in my healing. It took me years to get to where I am today. If you are struggling with anything, give therapy a try.
I recommend Online-Therapy.* Encouraging therapy is their first step in healing.
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