PREVIOUS : DELIBERATE Abuse or Not? (# 1)
CATEGORIES of Perpetrators (Ps)
a. Overt / b. Sneaky
c. Oblivious (most frustrating)
• These are the Perpetrators (Ps) who are completely inured to the fact that they hurt us & are surprised when we’re upset with them. Their Denial is so complete they simply cannot imagine their way is wrong – so much so that they can say, wholeheartedly & with raised hand: “I swear before God, I’ve done nothing wrong!” It can be enraging to deal with them, since there’s no way to get thru their armor. They just look at us blankly – or worse, hurt. Then we feel guilty. DON’T.
Yet our WIC desperately wants these very same abusers to admit what they’ve done, then repent & change – especially the ones least capable of being emotionally honesty & validating. Regardless of why they’re oblivious, these Ps’ lack of insight is absolutely no reason for us to ignore the reality of who they are.
EXP: This is how Doc Martin treats everyone, but especially his baby-mamma in episode “Remember Me” (on Netflix). He’s not trying to be mean, but his insensitivity has the same negative effect as other Ps. The Doc is very literal, completely ignorant of psychological values (being polite, showing respect, not being controlling, having boundaries…), & is not able to empathize – all of which hurt people’s feelings. (see ‘The Family Way’ episode of BBC’s “Doc Martin”(12/05) for the source).
d. “Normals” (most illusive)
• This type is the hardest for us to see as being abusive. While they’re similar to ‘b’ in some ways, the main difference is intention. The sneaky ones want to ‘get over’, want to be in control, want to always get their way.
But ‘normals’, who are not really healthy, seem to be respectful, thoughtful, spiritual… toward others – yet can do a great deal of harm in the family. They’re good people who are shut down on their own inner wounds, so their main way of being abusive is emotional.
BOOK “For your own Good: Hidden cruelty....”, by Alice Miller
They may be religious, responsible, friendly & hard-working – but they step on others’ feelings the same ways they were negated by their family. They genuinely believe they’re doing the right thing, while regularly abandoning others – emotionally AND cognitively.
Abandoning – To child being bullied: “Well, they’re having a hard time too, you know” , “I’m sure they didn’t mean it”
Invalidating – “You shouldn’t feel that way”, “Look ashamed”
Insensitive – Parent to teen being rejected by a popular group: “If it bothers you so much, don’t go back. Find other kids your own type”
Negating – “You just have to accept her the way she is”, from aunt to pre-teen crying about being attacked by mother
ULTIMATELY it doesn’t matter if our caretakers meant it, if they couldn’t help it, if they knew what they were doing …. or not. The important thing is the effect their damage had on us. Remember the vagus nerve? mentioned in post “Accessing Emotions“.
Trauma overstimulated our sympathetic system, pumping stress chemicals into our bloodstream. It is one reasons we’re so exhausted in bad relationships. To recover, we can activate our parasympathetic system, switching from “fight or flight” TO “rest and digest”. Check out “9 Factors that may Stimulate your Vagus Nerve Naturally“.
Only try the ones the suit you!
Whether the person we love is an overt or indirect abandoner, we need to grieve – the loss of time, of hope & of self-esteem. The first we can’t recoup, but the other 2 we can. We can start by make a courageous inventory of our Toxic Rules (T), & keep feeling the old pain (E) in small doses, to see how we obey the ‘disease’ & how we’re driven by our abandonment anxiety.
Only then can we change the things we do to harm ourselves in the present. But we can emerge stronger by building an image of ourself as a resistant, valuable, dignified person.
NEXT: Denial & acting out