Chains of Victimization

Over the past few months, I’ve blogged about relationships, both healthy and unhealthy, and on being a victim of abuse. Victimization itself is a fine line. On one hand, victims of abuse must acknowledge that they were indeed victims; i.e. what happened to them was not their fault, not their shame.

On the other hand, victims of abuse must be very careful not to internalize victimization; i.e. make it part of one’s identity, as in “I am a victim of abuse.”

See what I mean by a fine line?

Victimization is something that was done to you, it is not who you are, and we must never lose sight of this very fine, but important, line. Acknowledging victimization by another person can be paramount in healing oneself, knowing that what happened to you was not your fault. You did not choose to be assaulted, deceived, abandoned, etc. These actions were, for the most part (if not completely), beyond your control. However, moving forward is very much within your control, especially as you get further along in the grieving process. Because, as I learned from Tony Robbins when I was all of 25, if you are not in control of your life, then who is?

Don’t allow your abuser to continue the abuse by proxy. Take control. Find your power and take it back. When the images resurface, and they will, let them go. And then let them go again.

For me, the most disturbing images come back right before I go to sleep every night and then just a few moments after I awake each morning. The memories. The what-ifs. The self-blame. The what could’ve been. The fear of the future.

At first, when these would come at night, I had no defense. The images and memories would run their course until I said, “No.” Reset. Repeat. I tried to think of something else, but the next thing I knew I was playing through it again, and I’d say, “No!” Reset. Repeat. Ad nauseam.

Then I discovered that I needed to have a plan, something to occupy my mind while I relaxed enough to fall asleep. Something that would actively keep my mind busy and keep the offensive and painful memories at bay. That’s when I started drawing the room. Sounds silly, but it works. I draw a picture of the room in my head, every angle and plane. Every picture. Every trinket on every surface. I remember the room until I sleep.

As for the mornings, not even a cup of coffee can get me going faster than wanting to avoid another round of “what could’ve been.” A few moments after I wake, there they are. Getting up and getting on with the day–making coffee, checking email, writing, working, walking, reading, whatever–keeps them away most of the day. If they sneak in, they never stay for long anymore.

In the immortal words of the Eagles:

So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.

You cannot rush yourself through the grieving process, but just ensure you aren’t lingering there either. There will be relapses, no doubt. Sometimes for years, but once it’s over, find your power again. Then find your power again. Then, find your power again.

As a dear friend told me: “Be present and open to love and goodness. Let the rest fall away.” By holding onto pain and past hurts makes you miss out on the goodness and love of today.

These songs help:

These links all take you to YouTube, but you can get them on Amazon MP3 here, too. Or, of course, on iTunes. xo
What are some other songs that help you regain your power?

~ by omgrey on May 25, 2011.

12 Responses to “Chains of Victimization”

  1. I will start with making it clear that I am not disputing your process, nor am I telling you that you are wrong. As different people, we all approach challenges and set-backs differently, though. I was in a very abusive (on many levels) relationship for almost 7 years through my early and mid twenties. It got to the point I and my children were isolated and trapped with no way out if some one hadn’t finally helped us. It is true, I never asked for it… it is true I had to eventually let it all go. Where I took a different approach was in my view of myself.

    I was a victim. The thing is, I saw the train coming and I never moved out of the way. I indulged my weaknesses and needy fantasies that somehow and someday, he would realize what he was doing and we could be happy and normal. I continually let him run me down and break important parts of myself and my life outside of him… thinking if I just gave enough, it would change… knowing deep down that was a lie I told myself because I was scared. Scared that all there was out there was worse than this, that without him I would not be able to go on, that acknowledging his behavior toward me meant saying I had failed and I wasn’t “good enough” to make him treat me better. The thing is… I am not stupid, lazy, or mentally impaired. As I said, I knew… from day 1 I knew I should run… but my need and desperation over-ruled my logic. In this sense, I invited my abuse. I was an accessory to my own downfall.

    When it was all over, I had to face my own part in what had happened. It was not like I had been kidnapped at gunpoint and locked in a basement. I had many chances to end it, I just never did. Some sick part of me enjoyed the attention, the high strung emmotions… even if they were all negative and destructive. I LET myself be a victim; “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” would apply here. It was partially my own fault. I had to own that truth to move on and fix that flaw in me. It was hard, I didn’t want to do it. It paid off though.

    When you hold yourself accountable, and examine your own role and motives in a situation like that it really helps you avoid a relapse with a different abuser… or even the same one. I worked on it a year or more before I even dated again. It sounds cliche, but I had to find and love myself first. After that I was able to date casually, and walk away quickly from bad boys (no matter how appealing). I eventually met my husband. We have been together 5 years, and have never had a fight, never felt like we need to “get away” from one another… it’s wonderful. I don’t think I would have ever gotten here without taking responsibility for my part in my abuse. If I had only blamed the guy, I would never have squashed the 5 year old in my heart that had abandonment/attention issues… and I would have let the next asshole treat me bad, too.

    Anywho… sorry I wrote so much. It’s an issue I am passionate about. Again, I do understand not all situations and people are the same, nor can they all fit into a tidy box to be dealt with. I just thought I would share my own two cents. Take it as you will.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. There are two parts. The abuser and the victim who allows the abuse. Or, he treated me just as badly as I let him. Exactly. However, there are types of abuse where the victim has no choice in the matter, more severe cases of abuse. And, as you pointed out the “hurt me once shame on you; hurt me twice shame on me” thing, and I agree there, too. Still the first hurt, even if you do walk away, is abuse that one did not choose or allow.

  2. There are so many things I want to say here but my emotions are running high and I will have to wait for a better time to elaborate. I will however say this….I take no responsibility for the way I’ve been made to feel about myself and when there is a constant voice and hand telling you that you are never good enough for anyone, you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you should be glad at least I’ll have you, it leads your heart AND your brain to see these things as fact. And just when someone has given you a compliment or has taken an interest in something you’ve written or made, you let just an ounce of a notion that you really may be fine enter your world….but it is soon squashed and you see it….you really are useless….

    • You are most certainly not useless. Although I completely understand what you’re talking about. I could have 100 positive reviews, but just one negative cuts me deep. I think it’s because it reflects what we think about ourselves, deep down.

      But this I know: you are not worthless. you are not useless.

      You are beautiful and amazing. Anytime you need to hear that, you just ping me. I’m serious.

  3. […] If you have been a victim of abuse or suffered through an abusive relationship, it is important to acknowledge the abuse, whether it neglect, verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual, was not your fault. It was not your shame. But, now that it’s over, it is your responsibility to regain your power and redefine your sense of self. Don’t allow the abuser to continue hurting you by proxy. For links to the songs mentioned, please visit the original blog post. […]

  4. Thanks. I needed to read this.

    • Thank you for your comment. I’m pleased to see that it helped in some way. Hearing this from readers always helps me heal just a little bit more. So, thank you again.

  5. I have suffered all forms, verbal, physical, sexual. Nothing has made it dissipate. I don’t dwell on it, but it pops up, triggered by a film, a walk, a word. Iti s getting to the point that I have suffered so many years, it seems there’s no help. Leaving the abusers did not end the scars.

    • Certainly not. Unfortunately, they can do extensive damage, but they never take responsibility for that damage or for the healing. That is all up to us.

  6. If a woman does not have financial independence, what does she have??? This question was posted to me recently. I mean REAL financial independence, your own money sufficient enough to live on comfortably and not in a shelter or on the street. Twenty college degrees is not a guarantee of decent wages for women!!! For me, financial reasons have and are the cause of the abuse.

    • A woman may not have financial independence, but at least she’s safe. I would rather live in a shelter until I got back on my feet than in a fancy house where I was abused.

  7. […] year I also wrote about shame, victimization, and betrayal bonds. All well worth another read. No doubt. Gaslighting and Projected Abuse are […]

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