What Not to say to Abuse Victims Trying to Leave — Week 1.
How three simple words can maximise pain and minimise love.
Many reasons were given for my behaviour, getting myself in a violent relationship, having more children, and being at an age when I should have known better.
“It was love,” was the most common reason.
It was love feels like an excuse for shitty behaviour, not the abusers, but the survivors. It’s a bit like saying it's ok you weren't stupid, weak, lame, or fooled; you were just in love.
Instead, your common sense was hijacked by that stupid, weak, lame, easily fooled emotion we call love.
What else can you say to someone who is in a constant circular argument with themselves about the whys and hows of the abuse?
A quick sharp loaded phrase like “It was love” saves feeling their self-blame, shame, and guilt, especially when it's hidden behind veils of sunshine and lollipops.
Nothing about abuse is love; not even the person staying “out of love” is about love.
Abuse creates a bond, not anything akin to love.
I’d become accustomed to taking the blame for everything and was still in family court, so the blame game was in full swing. I’d not yet forgiven myself. Those three words, “It was love”, confirmed that the shame and guilt I felt was deserved.
Love as a justification for remaining in abuse diminishes the power love has for ending abuse.
I couldn’t even hear the word love or think from the perspective of love when I finally left. Any love I had was drained right out of me.
I did have a new baby and a wonderfully supportive family. I’ve even found a deeper connection with my children, family, friends, and mostly myself in time.
In the beginning, though, I needed to believe in the power love had to protect myself and my children.
I needed to know that I was making the right moves while my perceptions were blinded by trauma, not love.
Love is used loosely and as a weapon from many angles during and after abuse.
“Your abusing our children by keeping them from me” — turns out this is the number one tactic used against victims in family court.
There’s a whole movement dedicated to allowing abusers access to children in the guise of protecting children and the parent from parental alienation syndrome. Parental alienation syndrome or PAS is a subject for another article.
I still don’t know what the right words would have been; there were many right words. The best support came from people who listened without judgement and didn’t try to justify my choices or the actions of the abuser.
There are many right and wrong things to say to someone trying to leave an abuser, so I’ve added “Week 1” to the title in the hope to cover some of the most common phrases over the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading.❤