Monday, April 27, 2009

Trusting Yourself Fallacy

Trusting Yourself Fallacy

Trusting in yourself is not always beneficial. An abuser destroys a person's sense of self worth and robs his/her victim of decision-making power. So, although others mean well when they tell a victim to trust herself--they are not comprehending what a difficult task they are assigning. It is like asking someone to meet you 5 miles north, not realizing that her compass is broken and is pointing south when it indicates "North.”

It is important to remember this broken compass when we try to help someone else who is still living in abuse. After we've spent some time healing and operating in a non-abusive environment, it is easy to forget just how broken a victim is.

When I lived in abuse daily, I thought I had very little value, so when I made decisions I was oriented in that direction. I made many decisions on the assumption that I had little value. So when my boyfriend grabbed me and shoved me into his car right after I told him "No! I don't want to come with you right now, " I did not flee and I did not break up with him. I trusted myself, following my inner guidance system accurately--but it led straight into more abuse, rather than away from trouble.

In those days of abuse, I believed I somehow deserved abuse. I didn't know what I had done, but I firmly believed it must be my fault. So, my faulty compass gave confirmation that there was nothing wrong with me being abused. With that information guiding me, I didn't specifically ask for help from God or people. Who asks for rescue when they merely face "normal" life?

Before ending abuse in my life, non-abusive men seemed kind of boring. I was used to a more intense life. I didn't know how to have fun, not really. My broken compass was turning me around, back toward abusers.

So let's be careful how much we encourage abuse victims to trust themselves. Some victims will steer themselves straight to an early death.

There is an important part of healing that restores our ability to trust ourselves in healthy ways. I'll write about that in the next post.


Cynthia said...

This was an immensely important post! Part of your ministry will be to help others to gain an accurate picture of an abuse surivor. You got it exactly right.

Although I grew up in a loving family and had only wonderful dating experiences, when I married I did so because I was not even aware that men like him would pretend to be Christians (or in my case a pastor)

You are doing a great thing...keep your heart tuned always!

Tracy said...

You are so right about this. Being in the middle of an abusive relationship is a VERY confusing place. I don't think I knew up from down as far as what was best for me. I gave ALL my trust to my boyfriend/husband, and kept none for myself. He was able to tell me anything, and if he said it enough times (which he did), I believed it. My entire self-concept was based on what he thought, so anything he said MUST be true. That is a very scary place to be, in retrospect. At the time, though, I didn't even realize I was there, if that makes sense.

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Twofinches, what a shock it must have been to go from a healthier environment into an abusive marriage! I am so glad that you are now on the recovery side of abuse.

Your former plight shows the truth of the statistics that say that domestic violence crosses every sociological line: financial status, gender, race, country, etc. It isn't just those who are raised in abuse who end up being abused.

Thank you for your encouragement, twofinches.

Abusers are extremely successful con men, who strip people of their dignity and power.

Tanya T. Warrington said...

Your comments are so real, Tracy. It makes complete sense to me that you were in a frightening place having fully entrusted your abuser and reserving no trust for yourself. You said it beautifully.

I so appreciate what you point out about how denial and survival of trauma is like saying, "At the time, I didn't even realize I was there." This is so true! After I left, I realized I was afraid of my abuser, and then with shock I had been frighted of him for many years. I had been there, but I didn't even realize it at the time.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft