Are You Just Imagining and Over-Reacting?
Recently we were asked about the possibility that a victim is overreacting and exaggerating, and in fact her husband isn’t an abuser after all. I suspect that just about every abuse victim spends some time going back and forth with thoughts like these. Doubts. What if she is wrong? These are the kinds of things that go through her mind.
Well, once again let me draw on Steven Tracy’s book, Mending the Soul [*affiliate link]. Here is one, pervasive, marker of the abuser that is virtually always present:
“Pervasive Denial of Responsibility. In the twelve years my wife, Celestia, and I have worked with abusers and abuse victims, the single most consistent characteristic we’ve seen in abusers is their utter unwillingness to accept full responsibility for their behavior. I have rarely seen abusers confess to abuse unless there was crystal-clear, overwhelming evidence of their behavior—and even then they’d typically minimize what they had done and shift the blame. Over and over Adolf Eichmann declared he was not criminally responsible for the murder of millions of Jews in Nazi death camps, for he was simply “following orders.” Rapists sometimes blame victims for dressing seductively. Date rapists invariably say the sex was consensual. Physical abusers blame family members for making them mad. Several times I’ve heard child molesters say the child seduced them into having sex. One time I heard a molester, who was later convicted for raping two children, tell the jury that the children held him down and forced him to have sex with them. What made this denial even more outrageous was the fact that the children he molested were five and seven years old, and the man was a full-grown adult who weighed over three hundred pounds. Needless to say, the jury didn’t buy his repulsive blame shifting, but it does demonstrate how extravagantly abusers deny responsibility. Similarly, spiritual abusers customarily offer biblical justification for their abuse. When caught red-handed, they will (if pressed to the wall) admit to some inappropriate behavior but will fixate on the sins (real or imagined) of the other person. In short, most abusers have an utter inability to fully own their sin.”
Tracy, Steven R. (2009-05-19). Mending the Soul: Understanding and Healing Abuse (Kindle Locations 691-704). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
There it is. Is he always right? When you point something out to him, does it ricochet right off of him and come back and hit you in the form of a verbal denial and blaming on his part? Is it always your fault by the time the conversation is over? If so, be assured, you aren’t imagining and you aren’t overreacting. This is absolutely abnormal and wrong. There is no way that in any relationship one person is always right and the other always wrong. Think about it. It is impossible.
* Amazon affiliate link — ACFJ gets a small percentage if you purchase via this link