There is a very big lie that abusers tell their targets. It is the biggest lie of all. It is so big, it deserves capitalization. The Big Lie is that if only the target would try harder, behave better, or in some other way improve themselves, the abuse would stop.
There are very many smaller lies, but that is the underpinning Big Lie.
This lie tells the target: this is all your fault!
The Big Lie is the reason why so many targets stay. They feel they have the power to fix the abuser. If only they try hard enough. Of course they can’t. The reality is that the abuse is never about the target, but only ever about the abuser.
That is not what it feels like to the target though. Abuse feels personal (because it is skillfully personalized) and it feels like something you deserve. The Big Lie is carefully planted in your head, and it makes you feel both responsible for and powerless against the abuse. Because however hard you try, it is never enough.
You feel like you have the key to stop the abuse,
but you continuously fail to actually turn it in its lock.
When I eventually left my family behind, I felt very guilty. I felt like I had failed them, not like they failed me. If only I had tried another conversation, maybe I could make them understand how awful they made me feel. Maybe once they understood, they would try to make things better.
And then I remembered that I told them. Word for word: I don’t feel like you love me.
My mother never even blinked.
For a long time, I believed the Big Lie. I thought there was something inherently wrong with me. Something so very bad, that it made me unlovable, even to my parents.