Sanctuary for the Abused
Friday, March 08, 2013
Reactive Abuse - What Is It?
“…stop making out people to be evil if they fight back. Or run away. As in divorce.
You cannot force people to submit to abuse. That is the Sin of Sodom, otherwise known as making someone bend over for it. It violates the Laws of Nature. And common sense.” - Kathy Krajco
If you’ve ever been in an abusive relationship like I have, it’s likely your abuser tried to convince you that YOU are the abusive one: that YOU have PMS (a favorite accusation of male partners), YOU are over-reacting, YOU are making it all up, YOU are the crazy one, that YOU are responsible for all the issues in the relationship, that YOU are the “time-bomb” that explodes on a regular basis. My ex-abuser even called me “Time Bomb” and mocked me about my reactions and responses to his constant abuse during the last 3-3.5 years of our relationship.
It’s a pretty safe assumption that if you’re getting this type of constant blame, mockery, and guilting from a partner in response to any and all issues that arise, you’re in an abusive relationship.
As for your partner’s assertion, yes - you may have sent angry emails or yelled or slammed doors or called names. So your abuser claims YOU were abusing him/her.
But it’s more likely you were REACTING to being abused by your partner. What can make it even more difficult for you to see and understand at this point is that some of their abuse may be subtle and covert rather than obvious and overt. This causes further difficulty for you in identifying the abuse - and makes it easier for your abuser to convince you that it’s all your fault, or the problem is really with YOU - that you’re “crazy”, or “imagining things”.
They’ll abuse you, and when you react to that abuse, they accuse YOU of abusing THEM and they play the victim role. They don’t call it “crazymaking” for nothing!
This is the stage at which an abused partner often describes as being in the “fog” of abuse. Their abusive partner has guilted them in to accepting ALL blame for the issues in the relationship, and caused them to doubt their own perceptions of the mistreatment they’re receiving.
It’s not at all unusual for a person in an abusive relationship to REACT abusively. This does not mean YOU are the abuser, that you are crazy, have PMS etc. etc. — though the abusive partner will try to convince you that YOU are THE problem and will often succeed in guilting you into believing it. I believed it for a LONG time before I began to recognize and question the pattern of abuse and the subsequent constant blame for the abuse, and worse, the ensuing mockery because I dared respond at all to having been hurt by it.
An interesting thing to note is that an abusive partner will often be very calm when you are upset and angry. This is because when they have finally succeeded in causing your reaction of hurt, upset or anger, then THEY are in power and control over you. THIS is what abuse is about: POWER and CONTROL. And like a drug addict, they get a lot of satisfaction out of that feeling of power and control. Abusers are very disordered people in this way.
The important thing for you to know is that this relationship and this person is toxic, unhealthy, and you need to get out of it and away from this person ASAP. They are emotional vampires, sucking away from you every iota of self-esteem and spirit you ever had. (then they will complain when you have none!)
If someone can drive you to be so upset on a regular basis (and abusers are experts at this - it gives them the sense of superiority, power and control they absolutely LIVE for) then the best thing to do is GET OUT and have NO FURTHER contact with that toxic person, if it is possible for you to do so.
The thing with abusers is that they are pathologically backwards people.
Lundy Bancroft touches on this in his book. Abusive, toxic people only consider and notice THEIR own feelings and their partner’s behavior. They never, EVER consider or notice their PARTNER’S FEELINGS and their own behavior.
When they’re abusive, (verbally, emotionally, sexually, physically, financially - covertly or overtly) it is always someone else’s fault. When their partner/victim finally reacts to that abuse with anger or upset at having been abused - then that is their partner/victim’s fault too.
In their minds, it never gets down to their OWN behavior and how it affects their partner’s feelings. They like to pretend that isn’t relevant, or anything they should ever be responsible for. They ALWAYS lack empathy for their partners (beyond the early “romance” stages when they’re trying to pull you in). This lack of empathy is the mark of the beast of abuse - more than anything else.
Here’s some information that may also help explain this “reactive abuse” concept a little more:
How do you know that you are not the one who is crazy or PMS’ing and that he is really emotionally abusive?
Answer:You may well be abusing him - but that does not mean that he is not being abusive towards you. Both parties are sometimes abusive towards each other.
You are being abused if:
(1) He repeats a certain bad behavior (ie: pattern of behavior).
(2) You asked him to stop (for whatever reason) and...
(3) He refuses and continues to behave the way he has.
People who are abusers rarely consider that they might be abusive. Even if the stresses of the relationship lead into what might be considered reactive abuse, anyone who honestly tries to adjust to the other person’s actual needs, actively listens to the other person, and makes every attempt to stop such behavior, probably is not an abuser.
Abusers do not take responsibility for their own actions, and in fact often blame the abused. When the abused person reacts to the abuse, the abuser calls that reaction abuse, and will use guilt to try to get the abused to feel responsible for the arguments or difficulties, as well as for the abuser’s actions.
This is one of the reasons getting away from an abuser is so important. Everything clarifies then.
While this article is written with the male as an abuser, your abuser may well be female!