victim blaming

Even if they say “they didn’t mean it”, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they say “they don’t remember it”, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they say “you’re delusional, I would never do that, you made it up”, they’re still responsible for what they did, and for trying to gaslight and invalidate your memories.

Even if they say “I didn’t do it, and even if I did, I would be right to do it”, they’re still guilty for what they did.

Even if they have excuses, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they act like it would have been crazy to expect from them to act any different way, they’re still responsible for what they did to you.

Even if they come at you with an entire agenda of how you should perceive what they did so it actually “benefits you”, even if they insist they did it for your own good, they’re still responsible for what they did to you, and for lying about it.

Even if they cry about how much it pains them to be accused of hurting you, they’re still responsible for what they did to you.

Even if they cry about how much they love you and how they did it all out of love and never meant to hurt you, it’s still their responsibility for what they did to you.

Even if they act like what they did shouldn’t have hurt you and you’re the one responsible for taking damage, for being sensitive to being abused, it’s still their responsibility for what they did to you.

Even if they blame you for what they did to you, they’re still responsible for what they did.

Even if they insist someone else did it to them too, even if they insist they had it worse than you, even if they say it’s a cultural thing, they’re still responsible for what they did to you.

Even if it was long ago, and they act like you’re wrong for remembering such old wrong doing, it’s still something they did, and they’re still responsible for doing it.

They can lie and deny and accuse and blame and invalidate and gaslight. It doesn’t absolve them of responsibility for what they did. It doesn’t absolve them from guilt.

Nothing can absolve abusers from responsibility for their own actions. Nothing.

You can’t “provoke” abuse. You can’t make someone hurt you if they weren’t just waiting for an excuse to hurt you already. You can’t cause abuse. Your behaviuor cannot affect someone’s abusive behaviour. You did not ask for it. Nobody asked for it.
—  they would have found an excuse to hurt you no matter what you did
Watch on caitielou-askew.tumblr.com

In addition to the @starbotdubssituation, I have a few words to say about Ultima’s response here (sorry Steph if you’d rather not get tagged in this). I looked up his channel out of pure curiosity and found this video.

This is exactly the kind of non-apology that people in bad relationships need to look out for. In fact people in any relationship, because often when someone’s in a bad relationship it doesn’t FEEL bad to them, at least not for a while. I want to break down what he’s doing here because it’s almost brilliant in its structure, and so true to form for people who are emotionally abusive.

1. He comes out the gate with a ton of unqualified absolutes. “What’s going on in the here and now.” “100% real, honest, and transparent (”anyone who has been subscribed to me…knows this)” “I’ve kept it real with the fans since day one” “This is nothing but the unclouded truth.” “I will not make excuses for my actions.” We have no reason to believe these are true, he’s said and done nothing to back them up. It sounds really upfront and honest, but there’s really nothing substantial here. It’s all fluff to appeal to the emotions (also phrases like “if you cannot find it within your heart to forgive me as a human being” serve the same purpose).

2. His first apology is to those whose respect he has lost (which he highlights himself by saying he wants to “apologize in advance to them”). NOT to the people who he has hurt. This is an important distinction because the respect of his fans is an asset with material value. I couldn’t say whether he did this consciously or not, but at the very least it seems a rather bizarre choice for a first apology given all that’s been alleged against him.

3. Two minutes into all this fluff he finally says he’s going to keep it short and concise because “time is a very precious matter.” Aside from being a contradiction, I’m pretty sure the most important matter in the video should be adequately addressing the issue at hand. Brevity has nothing to do with that. If it takes a longer video to properly explain what happened, then so be it. I can only chalk this up to showmanship, kind of like those people in the mall kiosks who pull you aside so you can sample their product, and several minutes into their spiel are still saying “in just 2 minutes I can show you why you need this product!” Maybe it’s just because I’ve worked a lot in marketing, but this whole video sounds very much like a sales pitch to me. Especially with how fast he’s talking (unless that’s how he always talks? again I don’t watch his channel).

4. He says he will explain WHY he did what he did, not WHAT happened. Here’s where the real problem with this video starts to show itself: his rationale has absolutely NO bearing on the situation at hand. What he owes his fans and Steph and everyone else he’s hurt is a summary of the events and an apology. Bringing in his reasons for doing what he did sounds a lot like those “excuses” he said he was not going to give in the beginning.

5. IMMEDIATELY after he begins that objective summary he gives completely unnecessary “opinions” about how he feels about Stephanie. And this is where the emotionally abusive language kicks in. Remember when Steph said in her post how her psychology bells started ringing? This is what she was talking about. “I literally honored and treasured our relationship to the fullest and never took it for granted.” There is so much to unpack in that sentence. It’s one-sided, it’s absolute, it’s possessive, and it’s blatantly untrue. Because if he hadn’t taken what they had for granted, he wouldn’t have hurt her in the first place. To take something for granted is to fail to appreciate it. If he believes that is true IN SPITE of what he did, then it’s clear his definition of appreciating someone in a relationship has nothing to do with the other person’s feelings about the relationship.

6. The summary continues and is peppered with his emotional reactions (”I was like oh no, did I do something wrong”). Again unnecessary, and only meant to illicit sympathy for him as opposed to communicating the story in an “unclouded” manner.

7. Next is a HUGE RED FLAG: he implies that how he treated Stephanie (or rather how the thinks he has treated her) has ANYTHING to do with whether or not she should be in a relationship with him. Do you remember all those “friendzoned” memes from a while back, and how one meme that responded to them went something like “women are not vending machines that you put kindness coins into until sex comes out?” THIS IS WHAT THOSE MEMES WERE TALKING ABOUT.

I cannot stress this enough. HOW YOU TREAT SOMEONE IN A RELATIONSHIP DOES NOT PUT THEM UNDER ANY OBLIGATION TO CONTINUE THAT RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU. PERIOD.

It doesn’t matter how nice you are. It doesn’t matter if you treat them like a “queen,” or a “king,” or whatever. You have no right to them. They are free to end the relationship on any terms they see fit, and if you are any kind of a decent human being with even an OUNCE of respect for them you will let them go and not pursue them any further. FULL. STOP.

8. He says twice that Steph “came out of nowhere” and said this to him. At this point he’s done a full 180 and framed HIMSELF as the victim here. That’s right–not even halfway into the video and now HE’S the one who had this sudden breakup INFLICTED upon him. Steph is now the instigator who brought these events upon HIM. This couldn’t be a more perfect example of victim-blaming.

9. He glosses over the later parts of the story, summarizing the events only by saying he “became greedy” and “began talking to other women.” This is the part of the story where he himself says he did wrong, yet he offers no detail into what specifically he did and said. Before when he was the victim, we got a play-by-play for how the breakup went down. But he spends as little time as possible actually explaining what he did wrong.

10. More appeals to emotion. “When you want something so bad so as to be able to have that completeness, to be able to have that love with someone, you’d do just about anything to get it.” He completely fails to see how his “love” was one-sided and, after the termination of the relationship, totally unwelcome. Even now he does not understand how it is possible for someone he wants to be in a relationship with to not want to be with him. In his mind if he likes the person and treats them right, they should by default feel the same way about him. He does not understand autonomy in relationships.

11. More appeals for the audience’s forgiveness.

Never once in the video does he apologize directly to anyone he hurt. Never once does he ask for their forgiveness, or express any regret for hurting them or losing their respect. The only forgiveness he asks for is that of his subscribers’.

I know not everybody appreciates a wall-o-text in their feed, but if you got this far thank you for reading. This is a textbook case of emotional abuse. If you or someone you love has a partner who talks like this about them, or apologizes like this when they do wrong, please step back and analyze the situation. When you’re in the middle of this it can be so hard to see the signs, but they’re there and crystal clear if you know what to look for. Much love to Stephanie and everyone else affected by him.

your pain is not a burden to anyone ok? i know people act like you being in pain is somehow burdening them or you are “making them feel bad” or “pushing them away” well that is bullshit my friend, you’re not obliged to give them the happy painless version of yourself, you are not obliged to be a concept that requires no empathy or consideration from others, you’re not obliged to make anyone feel good or provide them a cheerful company, you are the one carrying 100% of the burden of your pain and you’re the one suffering from it, and if people refuse to offer compassion for that and demand you to “feel differently” to convenience them, they are shit people and dirty dirty liars who refuse to acknowledge that your pain matters more than their convenience

abusers don’t want to carry the guilt for their own abuse you know? they wont do it. they let you know it hurts them and they don’t want to experience any of it, they don’t let you hold them guilty, they say the guilt is on you, they force you to take it, they drown you in the guilt and say it’s all your fault.

so you are the one who feels like a monster. you are the one feeling like you’re toxic and somehow a danger to the others, you are the one carrying the shame and the guilt as if you abused someone that badly, as if you caused for someone to abuse you. you are the one who gets self conscious over all of your actions and words, you feel like you’re the worst human alive, you feel like you deserve to be punished and abused for your crimes, you feel like you’ve done something wrong, like you need to be forgiven but nobody will give you forgiveness, you feel like there’s something inherently wrong and evil inside of you, like it can’t be helped because you are you. you end up feeling like the world would be a better place without you in it. you end up hiding and scared that you’ll be revealed for how horrible you really are. you end up feeling like you don’t deserve to exist.

that is what abuser should have been feeling. that is what they should have been carrying. that was forced on you. you haven’t done anything wrong. you’ve been forced to carry their emotional burden. that is what they should have been going through. forcing the victim to feel the guilt and shame of the abuser, forcing them to carry this burden on themselves, together with the burden of being betrayed and abused, that is actual torture.

and it’s devastating because you never got to be in love with yourself, you never got to experience how it feels to be human, free of guilt, free of thinking about yourself as a monster, free of burden and shame, free of self hatred, free of self consciousness and anxiety, free of fear and paranoia that you’re doing something wrong, free of feeling like you deserve to be punished, free of suicidal feelings, free to feel like you deserve being loved! because that’s what you deserved! you have done nothing wrong! you have done nothing to deserve the burden you’re carrying! it’s abuser who should be carrying it. it’s time for it to be returned to where it truly belongs. and that is not on your shoulders.

It’s really messed up that whenever a kid doesn’t conform to what’s considered normal, they are told to hide themselves to prevent bullying.

Not only are you putting the burden of preventing bullying on the victim, you’re justifying bullying of people who don’t fit into the mold of what’s normal.

The blame is bringing put on the victim’s personality and identity rather than on the bully’s intolerance.

Stop Blaming Yourself for Being Abused Once and for All.

One of the most helpful and startling things a therapist has said to me was, “In a way, in spite of having low self esteem you’re a narcissist. Narcissism says that you’re so special that you live by a different set of rules than anyone else. You judge yourself by standards you would never judge others by. Do you really think you’re so special and unique that you and only you should have individual standards no one else shares?”

I remember being offended and annoyed by the assertion that applying unique standards to myself was a narcissistic behavior. (the therapist was by no means diagnosing me, only pointing out that specific behavior’s unhealthy nature). As bothered as I was, I went home and thought about their words. At dinner when I judged myself for how much I ate I knew I would not judge anyone else by the same standards and wondered why I thought I was different. I had flashbacks and judged myself for not being over my past yet. I judged myself for how many triggers I still had reminding me of the abuse. I realized I was applying my own standards to many areas of my life and wondered when I had decided I was such a unique human I should have standards I did not think anyone else on earth should have applied to them. 

1. Identify the topics where you have standards you only judge yourself by. Write each one down and add, as close as you can remember, when that standard started and what was happening in your life and mind at the time. Figure out what the areas have in common. Ask yourself what their original purposes were. Some might have been meant to motivate you to work harder on recovery or toughen up. What were you hoping to gain from them?

2. Think of other abuse survivors and identify what you admire about them. Do you aspire to be able to openly discuss your past like they do? Do you admire that they do not judge themselves, that they have found self love again? 

3. Create emotional goals for yourself. Do you dream of being able to honestly say you did not deserve to be abused? Do you want to truly feel you deserve happiness? Do you want to allow yourself better self care? Imagine you won the emotional lottery and write everything that would entail in relation to deal with having been abused. Then ask yourself if your current self blame is getting you closer to that goal. 

4. Break down the rationality of your self-blame. I think every person blaming themselves for being abused truly believes that it is a rational conclusion to come to, and can even feel frustrated when other people refuse to acknowledge that they deserved it. Imagine you are in the jury and your abuse case is being presented. Picture it being presented by someone the age you were when it happened to you. Imagine the events are exactly the same- the only difference is it happened to another person. What conclusion would you come to?

5. Imagine any of your abuse happening to a child you love. Imagine your own child, a niece, nephew, cousin, little sibling, someone else you care for experiencing even a small part of what you did. Does it make your blood boil or are you harsh towards that child like you are towards yourself? Can you imagine ever being alright with an adult doing that to someone who is not you?

6. When you speak against victim blaming remember that includes you. You are not the exception to every act of kindness and compassion. 

7. Remember that when you are blaming yourself you are defending your abuser and defending their actions. Saying that someone can do something to deserve or bring on abuse is saying that abusers sometimes have a legitimate reason for hurting others. You being the victim does not make defending an abuser any more acceptable. 

8. Know that if you would not apply your harsh standards to anyone else you do not have a single rational reason to apply them to yourself. You did not do something in the course of being abused that only you have done and made only you deserving of mistreatment. You were not born any different or worth any less than other humans. 

9. You cannot progress when after your abuser gone you made sure the abuse continued by adopting the abuse into your own mind. You get to control when this abuse ends. It can stop once you decide to try gentleness and kindness instead of harshness and judgment to heal yourself. 

10. You give your abuser victory if you let yourself have an abusive relationship with yourself forever. Your harsh standards for your coping and reactions to abuse are thoughts you learned from your abuser. The idea that you do not deserve happiness, self love, forgiveness, kindness, recovery, etc sounds like something an abuser would say. Pull those thoughts out of your head by refuting them and acting the opposite when they come up. 

Resisting your abusers is not abuse. Talking back to your abusers is not abuse. Screaming and fighting back to save yourself is not abuse. Trying to escape from them is not abuse. Calling them out is not abuse. Hurting them is not abuse.
—  only if you had tremendous amount of power over them, it could be called abuse, but in that case, they would never dare to abuse you in the first place because their life would depend on you, and not the reverse. You do not have the power to trap or abuse them, and if they pretend otherwise, they’re lying.
Demanding that you feel differently, making you feel guilty for the way you feel, making you feel ashamed of your feelings, telling you that your emotions are irrational and over sensitive, forcing you to pretend a feeling that is more convenient for them, demanding that you consider their feelings before your own, punishing you for the way you feel, forbidding you to express yourself, forcing you to bottle up the injustice, the pain, the fear, the anger, all of that is abuse.
—  all of this is psychologically destroying you for someone else’s benefit.

Shit people siding with abusers and abuse apologists say:

  • You can’t blame them for everything (watch me)
  • I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way (oh are u. are u sure. are u su)
  • I’m sure if you talk to them… (mate)
  • You just need to try harder! (MATE)
  • It can’t all be their fault (um)
  • They’re a HUMAN BEING (debatable)
  • You can’t blame them, they’ve had a rough childhood/life (so did I thanks to them)
  • It takes two to tango (do you think tango is on the list of child abuse)
  • You’re abusing them too. (i fucking wish)
  • Think of all the good things they’ve done for you! (yeah why don’t you fight their battles allison)
  • They only want the best for you! (ooh do they. do they really. do the)
  • It’s godly to forgive. (aren’t you being a deity lately jackson)
  • You need to stop thinking about this, it’s unhealthy for you (i bet you said that bc you’re worried about my health and not bc you don’t wanna help me get out of abuse or hear me out at all)
  • They really love you. (get out of my face with your equating abuse with love and confront your own abuse already)
  • They’re just worried about you. (yea about me outing their abuse)
  • They seem like a good person tho! (yea thats whats so terrifying about them I wish they walked around with a scythe and shouted obscenities)
  • You took all of this too seriously. (thanks for not taking my life seriously)
  • You took all of this too personally. (it fucking happened to me personally)
  • It’s time to stop holding on to past grudges (wow i am glad I let you make all my decisions for me surely you have my well being in mind)
  • Think about why this is all your fault. (wow are you trying to woo my abuser to marry you)
  • It couldn’t have been that bad. (u know what i wish i could transfer my symptoms directly to you lets see how bad is it then)
  • They aren’t that bad, give them a chance. (yeah why not give the person who shot at me another bullet what could possibly go wrong)
  • They can change. (yea they’re definitely changing to worse continually)
  • They’ve changed. (buddy i am glad you are not the target of their abuse but could you for a second consider that I am also a human being)
  • It’s because you did “x”! (oh no you got me people deserve to be abused if they do “x”! How did I not consider that before, abuse is totes justified!)
  • It’s because you overreacted. (goodbye i’m not talking to u)
  • You think everything is abuse. (you think its bc i live in abusive environment? nah it can’t be that can it)
  • Think about how they feel! (oh so you too think i exist to cater to their feelings great I’m so happy how I feel is never gonna come up)
  • If you would consider their side for a second. (what do you think i wasted half of my life on jane)
  • They would never do that. (did you not just hear the words out of my mouth telling you they did that)
  • I’m sure they would be nicer if “x” (keep deluding yourself)
  • They’re just having it tough. (and everyone who has it tough gets to have a go at me! I forgot my place is to be a punching bag of the world)
  • You have to love your (family member) abuser. (I did love them.)

Stop telling trauma survivors what to do! Stop blaming them for the state they’re in! Survivors haven’t done anything to deserve this! Survivors struggling with depression, anxiety, panic, paranoia, cptsd, toxic guilt, shame, insecurity, self doubt, feeling weak and pathetic and worthless and wrong and unworthy and blaming themselves - they haven’t done anything wrong! They haven’t done it to themselves! They didn’t choose this! They aren’t the ones destroying themselves, they aren’t the ones causing this or perpetuating it nor is it in their interests for it to continue! Use common sense, nobody does this to themselves, nobody deserves to go through it, nobody has “made a mistake” and ended up that way, they didn’t fail at anything, this shit is non controllable and it could happen to each and every one of you so please find some basic respect for trauma survivors!

When abuse/incest survivors think their parents are/were good.

One of the hardest things for non-survivors to understand is the way that survivors of abuse defend their abusers. A common question I get asked is “How could you possibly think your parents were GOOD?”

To non-survivors, my situation looks simple. A father who plays pornographic video games with his seven-year-old daughter is a bad father. A mother who isolates her daughter from social support and starts physically punishing her and grooming her toward heterosexuality after she comes out as gay is an abusive mother. Parents who let cult members into the house and create cover stories to excuse ritual abuse don’t deserve sympathy when their adult children go no-contact.

Here’s the problem. People aren’t just born with an innate understanding of what love, intimacy, trust, goodness, and understanding are. Those things are supposed to be learned during infancy when a child is helpless but learns to trust that an adult will take care of them. Children who are abused by their primary caregivers have what is supposed to be their very first loving relationship marred with abuse. If the “care” a child received at their most vulnerable was infrequent, unreliable, or affected by shaming (ie: parents being disgusted with their baby/constantly angry at their baby for crying), then the baby never has anything positive to measure future relationships against or even to measure the parents’ behavior against. If the parents say “we love you more than anyone else in the world,” the child is going to believe that is true. If the parents say “other children get more love than you do because you’re worse than other children/more annoying than other children/less attractive than other children/less lovable than other children/etc.” then the child will believe that as well.

Unlearning that kind of message, especially when the child started learning it in infancy, is not as simple as hearing “you didn’t deserve it” and then going “oh wow, that’s such a revelation! My life is fixed now, thank you so much!” Sure, survivors need to be reminded that they deserved more love and care than they got, but asking a survivor to implicitly understand that on a deep, core level just because you say it to them sometimes is asking a bit much.

Infants actually need to emotionally attach to someone in their lives in a secure manner. This means that even if a parent is rejecting, sadistic, or otherwise abusive, the infant will still try to attach to this person. The child *needs* love from that person to avoid being left with literally nothing.

This is part of why abuse survivors often date abusers when they get older. They desperately need someone they can connect with, and abusers are more likely to offer instant relief than good partners. Good partners will want to gradually get to know the survivor and let intimacy develop naturally. Abusers will push for immediate trust and intimacy, which initially feels like fresh air to a survivor who lacks it from other sources. Beyond that, stigma against people with mental health issues and traumatic backgrounds can make good partners reluctant to give abuse survivors a chance. This can mean that abusers are much easier to form bonds with than “good people” are.

In addition to manipulating attachment needs (deliberately or unintentionally), abusive parents are rarely abusive 100% of the time. Some abusers financially support their survivors to keep them dependent, and other abusers will buy expensive “just because” gifts for their children, which leaves their children feeling indebted. Some abusers say “I love you; you’re wonderful” on odd numbered days or exhibit “good” behavior just some of the time, leaving survivors thinking that the abuse is just their parent reacting to stress or some passing problem that can be eventually overcome. Many survivors think they can figure out a rhyme or reason behind the “good days” and “bad days” to ensure that only good days happen from now on. That’s rarely actually possible, so survivors suffer.

Survivors aren’t dumb for believing their abusers are good or right. Those are common beliefs that can take a lot of work to overcome.