“Over the last years I realize more and more that the constant feedback of me being lazy, undisciplined, self-centered and fat (as the main themes) prevented me from being a confident person, and for a long time stopped me from being a successfully independent adult.”
So often we are made to feel guilty for laying blame for our lives with other people. How can it be John’s fault that you are in an underpaid job, how did Violet cause you to have health issues? Well, however confusing and unbelievable this may be, if John and Violet were in fact emotionally and mentally abusive there is a good possibility that their behavior has influenced their victims so much that they lack the confidence to orchestrate a successful career or the drive to properly care for their bodies.
It is a difficult process to understand how non-physical abuse can affect a person in the long run. Every survivor in the world will be able to tell you that their experiences influence choices they make. Whether a lack of self-confidence, enormous distrust or a lack of life skills, the past resonates in the present. And those are the semi-conscious effects. We often forget the exposure to non-physical abuse can have so many physical ramification, if not only for the experience of constant stress wearing a target out.
Laying Blame With the Abuser
Even the target themselves can have trouble identifying all the little ways in which they were influenced, and then when they do are often made to feel guilty about assigning blame to those who hurt them. In general terms I think our society does far too much victim-blaming, but when it comes to non-physical abuse it seems we are not even allowed to acknowledge the indiscretion.
Asking someone who has been mentally abused not to behave like they were abused
is like stabbing someone and asking them not to bleed.
That statement is even more true than most think, as we are becoming increasingly aware that emotional pain is much more similar to physical pain than previously thought (more on that on Psychology Today). So if we know that non-physical abuse has such far reaching effects, should we then not be able to assign the same level of responsibility to the culprits?
Assigning Blame Without Loosing Responsibility
“I continuously find that I feel guilty about giving them some responsibility over how I have struggled with certain aspects in my life. Am I after all not responsible for how my life turns out? When I try to step back and look at certain incidents I see their influence now. I need to allow myself to assign that “blame” without that meaning that – now that I have figured that out – I use them as an excuse”.
Maybe that is the key to it all, you can assign blame to someone about their indiscretions against you, without giving up your own responsibility of dealing and healing. Figuring out where behaviors originated is not the same as trying to find a scapegoat for whatever is wrong in your life. In fact looking for the origins can be an important step in learning from your past.