“Vilifying the Victim” Comments, Page 1

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13 Comments (3 Discussion Threads) on “Vilifying the Victim”

  1. How do you stand up to a disturbed character? I’m in the process of trying to decide whether to return to someone or extricate myself from them (I think he’s disturbed in some ways). He sends me messages saying we were both to blame for the problems, but for once in my neurotic life I can honestly say that’s not true without feeling too guilty!

    One thing I have found that does work sometimes is staying calm and repeating myself and asking them to listen… but I suppose that’s dependent on them doing that.

    1. Hi Ellie,

      Just a thought here about what your friend tells you about “you are both to blame for the problems”…

      To me it’s like this… One thing is people’s “responsibility” for staying or not staying in a relationship -or each person’s choice- and a different one is when one partner blames on the other (or wants to share the responsibility with the other partner) about his own mental health problems and behavioral issues.

      To put it simple, you can be responsible for your own choices/decisions, but you are certainly not to blame for his mental disturbance (not sure if the term applies) or mental health and behavioral issues.

      As Dr. Simon pointed out in his articles, disturbed characters tend to be very skilled when it comes to creating confusion on other people, so as not to make themselves accountable for their behaviors, etc.

      If he is a disturbed character, that is not your fault.

      If you have had some unhealthy interactions, that’s a completely different thing, maybe you just didn’t react “properly” at times, but that is not what caused or causes his problems, nor does it justify his behaviors either.

      (Anyway, this is just my point of view.)

  2. Very interesting post!

    I was reflecting on the part that says “They would rather carry the burden of abuse than see themselves as an abuser,” and it came to my mind some people who are unable to tell their romantic partner “I don’t love you” or “I want to leave you” because of the feeling they experience. Some victims simply think it’s “wrong” to be honest about their feelings because that would “hurt” the real abusers, which seems to be exactly what the abuser is counting on, that “guilty” feeling on the victim’s part for standing for their rights.

    I’ve noticed there’s quite a bit of misconception regarding what is a healthy choice to make regarding an unhealthy relationship, and it appears that mostly is due to this confusing feelings that victims usually experience. They just can’t stand the idea of hurting someone else, and would rather endure the suffering themselves. Or they might think that if they set a limit, they will not be “loved” anymore by their partners…

    It’s like when parents are unable to say NO or set a limit/boundary to their child because they fear that might be counterproductive for the child. Sometimes, saying NO means love. It means drawing a line between a healthy interaction and unhealthy one.

    1. Hi Mariana,
      Your comment really hit me close. I have been in an unhealthy relationship for almost 12 yrs and I have said those words many times -” I dont love you anymore…I want to leave” and every time, I felt a liberating honesty and peace. But it is not until later when my partner starts manipulating with the -” the childrens sake” that I feel disarmed. My days are passing by and I feel very sacare of his reaction againt me and the children. It is not whether if I hurt him or not. At this point I dont care if I hurt him.
      Anyways, great article!

    2. Hi Lunna,

      Sorry to hear about your situation. It sounds like you need a safe exit plan. In my personal opinion, I think it’s precisely because of your children’s sake that you (all) would be better off without your partner, but I don’t know all the details. If you fear his reaction, it would be good to have a support network and a safe exit plan for you and your children to be able to put an end to that unhealthy relationship and start a new and healthier life. Just my two cents here.

    3. Hello Mariana,

      Thank you for this… and for your comments below. It’s very true that I don’t like to set boundaries with partners, as I feel I won’t be loved. And I think when I get involved with disturbed characters they pick-up on this and act accordingly e.g become aggressive/manipulate/walk out.

      The articles on here and comments are definitely getting me thinking about what I do and the behaviour of those I’ve been involved with. Very useful.


    4. Thank you, Ellie.

      You got me thinking about that. When I was young I used to think it was rude on my part to say “no,” but later on I realised there was an important difference between being assertive and being rude or aggressive.

      I used to feel that people might “reject” me if I set boundaries, and some did, but it turned out to be for the better since those who turned their back on me were manipulators who would rather look for an “easier victim.”

      Anyhow, we can be assertive and say “no” and set boundaries without offending anyone, and without fearing that we will not be loved. And perhaps, if someone stops loving us after we say “no,” maybe it wasn’t someone “good” for us, in the end.

      We are all entitled to set healthy boundaries and expect to be respected and loved for who we are.

  3. I came across this article because my mother had various links up to help me with my current situation.
    It was just Sunday that I was snuck out of my ex-fiancè and his family’s home where I was emotionally, mentally, and physically abused. I’ve spent the past few hours reading many of your articles, and I must say they have really helped me with understanding what happened to me there over the past year. With every article that I have read, I see examples that bear an uncanny resemblance to both him and his mother, and the tactics they used to keep me there. I’ve often been told that I am very naive, and now that I have gone through all this for the past year, I can now finally see it. What I don’t understand is how they can feel justified with harming another living being. For me, the most pleasure I get out of life is in helping people and making people happy.

    I am quite thankful to have stumbled across this site with my mother’s help, and I hope it helps others that are and have been in the same situation as I.

  4. Over the last couple of years I have noticed a troubling trend, but thanks to this article I have a better understanding of how the dynamics work. Basically the trend I have noticed is that some people tend to vilify or “unfriend” an other when they themselves have behaved poorly.

    Recently a friend and I went out to supper and she had wine with her meal. Normally this would be ok, but in this case, the person was taking meds that enhanced the affect of alcohol. It was a mess, but I helped her out and really, thought nothing of it as I knew it was a reaction to the medicine. Since then, her contact with me has dwindled to nothing. It’s almost as if she was so ashamed of her behavior that she could not face me because of the memories it brought up for her. She has always been a bit “upety” and critical of others, and I am sure what happened really bothered her.

    Anyway, I thought I handled it well, and was sensitive to her feelings but nonetheless her behavior after the event reminded me of other instances where people vilify others when the light is unfavorably shone on them… just wanted to share.

  5. It was 2 decades before my husbands mask began to slip. When I started finding out about his secret life and his pathological lying he tried to make everyone think I was crazy so they wouldn’t believe anything I said about him. It worked. Even my own children thought I was the villian and he was the victim. The gas lighting was so bad I thought I was in the beginning stages of Alzheimers. You cannot win against these people. They are to evil and we do not think like they do. I ended up spending 9 days in a mental health facility. He convinved all my family that I was crazy. And I probably looked crazy trying to convince everyone what he was doing. Stealing from me, having affairs with women and men, the lying even when I had proof. I was very emotional and he was always very calm and cool. He was pure evil. I’m still repairing my relationships with my children after 4 years of learning the truth. My life as I had believed it to be was over. It had all been a lie. I was his victim but one day soon I hope to be a survivor.

  6. I am offended by the author’s use of the term “neurotic” to identify victims involved in abusive relationships. Victims become neurotic after suffering from the manipulations of the disordered personality. I feel blamed for causing my abuse even though I had no idea it was happening for 20 years. If he had not acted then I would not have reacted. My reactions are valid and not “neurotic”.

  7. I got a letter recently using this very tactic, so this was a very applicable and helpful article. I had repeatedly tried to bring up an issue to resolve it with a “friend”. She ignored it every time and finally denied that the discussions even took place! Since the emails were right there in front of me, that was pretty brazen. At that point I didn’t respond any more, because I knew this could never be resolved, and neither could anything else. How can you discuss and resolve an issue that never happened? Finally she sent me an angry, hostile letter saying she has no idea what she did, and I was accused of throwing her aside and destroying the friendship.

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