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Author Topic: Harmful Misconceptions About Abuse
Sans
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Have you personally experienced, heard of, or been the target of harmful misconceptions about abusive situations and abuse survivors?

This is a support thread for those of us who have.

Being personally a childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence survivor, I can testify to the fact that these misconceptions are extremely hurtful and can make it much more difficult for the survivor to recover.

Even if you know that such statements are not true at all, it still doesn't take away the stinging pain, especially if the statement came from someone you love or respect (ie. a family member, a religious leader, etc.).


Here are some of the ones that had been directed at me:

"Why can't you and your mother just get out of the abusive situation? Why do you guys still stay with him? I don't get it."

(Because it's not that simple)

"If you don't want to get raped/sexually abused, don't dress like a slut in the first place."

(How I choose to dress is NO excuse for the horrible decisions/actions of someone else. Victim-blaming in order to justify the actions of the offender is NOT OKAY AT ALL. In fact, victim-blaming in general is NOT OKAY AT ALL.)

"He wouldn't have abused you if he didn't have a reason to. You must've done something to deserve this."

(NO, I DIDN'T.)


I didn't even realize that some of the above thing said to me were wrong at the time. They stayed in my mind for years and fueled my guilt and self-loathing. I didn't deserve this. You don't deserve this. Society in general needs to be better educated so that abuse survivors can get the support they need.

Misconceptions are extremely harmful. I know that from personal experience.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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techie
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"In fairness, you did -act- like you were going to put out."

"Men have these urges, and women don't, so sometimes men have to find ways to satisfy them, and the women don't always agree with these ways."

"I hate to say I told you so..."

"I don't mean that its your fault, apart from in the very basic sense of the word in that, y'know, if you didn't invite him round to your house, it wouldn't have happened."

"He's such a lovely guy! Are you sure you weren't just being frigid about it?"

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Sans
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The following quote is one of the most hurtful and outrageous victim-blaming statements directed at my mother and I (the abuser referenced being my stepfather who is not the speaker here):

"You know, from my personal experience, men have such a high sex drive. You women just can't understand that. And when husbands and wives have an argument, the woman typically gets back at the man in some indirect way. For example, when my wife and I had a verbal fight once and got mad at each other, she put my white shirt in the laundry with her red socks. Naturally, my shirt got dyed in there.

What I'm trying to say is that your mother must've gotten back at your stepfather for one of those arguments by denying him sex. Since she didn't meet his needs as a wife should, he had to find a way to get those needs met. And you, as a kid, you were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. He had needs, you were there, so therefore he met his sexual needs through you. You know, being a man, I can understand that."

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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jazzberry
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As a child abuse/domestic violence survivor, one thing I kept hearing when I tried to speak up about my father's constant discounting and manipulation was "You know, deep down, he really loves you." I still see red thinking about that statement--love isn't supposed to tear people to shreds.

"You need to stop playing the victim." The psychic scars have left me pretty damn isolated because of that.

When I was assaulted by my ex, the on-campus psychologist (that the student services official referred me to) warned me against reporting it to the police because of how the assault transpired. I'm paraphrasing what she said; it was longer and more aggravated because I was arguing that her points weren't making sense. "You held on to him when he tried to throw you to the ground. It doesn't matter whether it was to keep your balance or not; because you 'initiated' some physical contact, he could press charges against you." Long story short, the college did nothing about it; I've seen him a few times around the campus since then. As another "security" measure, I've cut off ties with the people who knew him even vaguely because I don't want to have to explain the assault and I'm afraid that he'd twist the story against me if he were confronted about it.

I often don't talk about the abuses I've been through because it makes people uncomfortable, and/or I fear they will say something that makes me feel worse for it.

[ 02-29-2012, 10:10 PM: Message edited by: jazzberry ]

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Sans
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Hey, techie.

Hey, jazzberry.

I could totally relate to what you said in the first paragraph of your post. I had been told similiar things regarding my abusive stepfather: "He loves you, but he just doesn't know how to show it. Forgive him." It angers me so much when people pressure me to forgive, as if it is just that easy, especially since almost all of them did not give a second thought even when they saw my stepfather publicly abusing me. And now, after everything's over, they come over and pretend to be my intrisic support system? I despise actions like these almost more than I do my stepfather himself.

And then, if I have trouble doing so, they immediately conclude that something's wrong with ME. I feel that they see my pain as nothing more than entertainment that they quickly grow tired of.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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jazzberry
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Adding another few on the "playing the victim" aspect:
"It couldn't have been that bad."
"It's over and in the past now, you need to move forward beyond it."
"You just have to (learn to) love yourself and everything will work out." That's not even the issue here.

And finally, one I heard at an audition. Someone I knew said she wanted to play an abused woman because "I'm a pretty strong person--I'd never let a guy do that to me." I wanted to yell at her, or just speak up against it, but then I'd get dirty looks and complaints about why I'm "so angry" with no "apparent" reason.

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Sans
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Another one that someone said to me over the phone:

(Also on the "playing the victim" aspect")

Him:

"Okay, fine, you were a child, but you could've done SOMETHING. You could've physically picked up the phone, and called the police. Then you wouldn't have had so many problems."

Me:

"But you don't understand. My stepfather threatened to kill me if I told anyone."

Him:

"Yeah, but the thing here is, he THREATENED. There's a difference between a threat and an action. You know that. You could've called the police and you didn't. That's how you are responsible for what happened."

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

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fiveanddime
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Some people don't realize that emotional or psychological manipulation counts as abuse, too. They look for bruises or scars instead. Several of my friends have been in emotionally dangerous situations but haven't wanted to report it because they think that no one will take them seriously if they don't have physical wounds to prove it.
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Sans
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To fiveanddime:

I totally agree. In fact, that is the misconception that kept me from reporting for years. I thought that my abuser's actions did not constitute abuse since he did not physically hit me. It wasn't until later that I realized that abuse takes many different forms, and that emotional and psychological manipulation can be just as damaging as physical violence but on a whole different level.

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"Sneak away, sneak away / If the fate is too sad / You are not a flower of hell / That kind of place... / Don't become lost, don't become lost... / Or you won't be able to grasp the entangled hand / The cry also has a limit...." - Naraku no Hana

Posts: 537 | From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Dec 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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