Many victims ask themselves why they were attracted to their partners if it weren’t God’s will.
They firmly believed that this marriage was ordained and took their vows seriously, completely intending to stay married for life.
Yet they find themselves in a relationship in which they are relentlessly punished for trying to make it work.
Their best intentions are ridiculed.
Their kindnesses receive cruelty.
Their obedience receives pain and disrespect.
They ask themselves if there was something wrong with them that they were chosen to suffer like this.
They ask themselves if somehow they were foolish, naïve or not hearing God’s voice clearly. Are they being punished for some wrong they did?
This self-blame and searching for answers serve the abuser. S/he can keep heaping blame, guilt and intimidation to control the victim.
While the victim is in the spin cycle of confusion and self-doubt, crying out in anguish for answers, the abuser can do what s/he wants with no responsibility.
The abuser is not interested in a relationship. S/he is only interested in controlling someone for their own benefit.
Abuser-narcissist-predator-manipulator: it doesn’t matter what the label is. It doesn’t matter why s/he acts this way.
What matters is how you can find your way out of pain and regain safety, sanity and serenity, which is your birthright as God decreed through Christ.
Here are some of the orientations that an abuser looks for in a potential victim.
Unfortunately some church doctrines teach these as desirable, primarily for women. If women try to comply but are mistreated, too many churches do abandon them to those who mistreat them.
- Self-sacrifice. With no- limit giving as a standard, a good person is plagued by guilt or resentment. The abuser preys on this as long as possible.
Corollaries of this misconception are beliefs in subjugation (one partner should submit to another) or perfection (endless effort to prove worth).
- Fear of rejection/abandonment. Without examining past wounds, a woman or man may believe that they are somehow unworthy or defective .
Shame tells a person they are a mistake rather than someone who just makes mistakes. People with this feeling put no limits on being mistreated. They believe it is not acceptable to have needs.
They may have been taught to keep their feelings to themselves or never ask for what they need.
They may have been taught to not “get in the way” or “always put others first.”
If this has been a past experience, the relationship with the abuser may feel familiar or a repeat of the past. This is always how it has been or how it always will be.
The victim has learned how to put up with it but not to fight it. People-pleasing becomes a mandate rather than a choice.
Even worse, some legalistic churches choose to emphasize how sinful people are. They have no goodness except in Christ. Sermons constantly emphasize how we all fall short, are displeasing to God, etc. instead of the full life Christ’s resurrection gives the believer.
I do not want to perpetuate the stereotype that all victims think they deserve it. But after prolonged demoralization, a person would succumb to these feelings.
I knew I did not deserve it, but for too long I couldn’t figure out how to cope with it or get out. I kept trying to “fix it”, which is futile. The old cliché would appear that helped others feel better and excused them from trying to help: “Well, she must be ok with it or she would leave.”
- Women’s conditioning to find worth from partners. In the past, women had to depend on men for social status, finances, and other necessities.
This is still true to some extent. But even if a woman is financially independent, she is still held to the standard of status through a man.
Churches who uphold male power discourage her from seeking freedom from abuse. Family and friends, even well-intentioned, might also because they do not understand the realities of her situation. But God did not ordain men to be superior just because they are men. Believing so is idolatry.
People who seek out those with these past wounds can also have similar experiences in the past but they have decided or been conditioned to take the opposite approach to the experiences.
They develop grandiosity or entitlement. They may have vowed never to be misused again and so demand others do whatever they want.
They do not accept limits to their behaviors.
The bottom line is they do not value relationship. They value a person to use.
Their partners cannot help them because they do not respect their partners.
It is up to the victims, then, to take steps to secure their own safety, sanity and serenity.
Their partner is not going to.
But we are here to support anyone seeking to live free of abuse. Contact me through the form on this site, FB, Twitter, or LinkedIn to access a support network.
2 thoughts on “Am I to Blame for Being Abused?”
Simply and precisely and well put explanation. I am glad Shirley Fessel has the courage to make a stand and thus give courage to victims of relationship abuse.
Thank you, Dianne. I look forward to speaking at your church this spring.