The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
We often talk about how victims of abuse have given their power away, and how it is necessary to reclaim that power if we want to become survivors, but it's important to talk about the fact that victims of abuse are not the only people who give their power away. Abusers actually give their power away, too. That is why they are abusive: they feel that others are controlling their lives, creating their feelings and/or are responsible for their decisions. They either cannot or will not take accountability for their behavior or choices, and they either cannot or do not take responsibility for their feelings and meeting their own needs. Because of their failure to do these things, they blame others for their behavior or their needs not being met, and then they feel weak and powerless. This causes them to strike out at the people they insist actually are responsible and accountable for these things.
This is why abusive behavior is not a sign of strength. It is a very blatant and obvious sign of weakness. When someone is abusive, when they blame others for their actions or their choices or for not doing for them what they should do for themselves, they are saying "I have no power over my life or myself at all." Ironically, this is exactly the opposite of the image many abusive people are trying to project. However, the truth of this cannot be hidden. It is apparent in the way they treat other people. Abusing other people is not strong. It's cowardly. It's what happens when someone is too afraid to look at themselves for the solutions.
One of the reasons these kinds of relationships are so toxic and hard to get out of is because many times, both parties have given their power away completely, and both are relying on the other person to do things for them that they can really only do for themselves, such as fix them, convince them of their worth or make them happy. Neither person is coming from a healthy place or functioning in a healthy way. No one is caring for themselves the way they need to in order to have a healthy relationship.
If victims of abuse can learn to take their power back, they can stop the cycle of abuse in their lives. If abusers could learn to take their power back, they could stop the cycle of abuse in their lives, too. The problem is that the abuser is often unwilling or unable to face the reality of the situation. They are unwilling or unable to admit that they have made all of these choices for their own reasons and are therefore completely accountable for their own behavior and responsible for their own feelings. They often insist they are reacting in self-defense, or to some horrible offense or insult. They believe this relieves them of the responsibility for their actions. It doesn't, but there is often no way to make them understand that - or to make them care that it's not OK. As far as the abuser is concerned, the victim is responsible for the abuser's behavior and they deserve what they get.
This is why an abuser frames the story the way they do to other people. They want to make the victim sound crazy, or unstable, or abusive, or evil. That way, not only do they get sympathy for dealing with that and not only do they make themselves look better by comparison, but if their own actions are brought to light, they believe their actions will be understood by others and possibly even condoned. This can backfire on them though, because in their quest to present themselves as a victim or as a beleaguered saint just trying to do the right thing, they can make themselves look so powerless and helpless in their own lives that it turns people off.
The truth is that abusers are not powerful people. They still see themselves as helpless, powerless bystanders in their own lives, like children. They are generally unhealed, scared, fragile people who are unable to cope with their own inability to meet their own needs and unable to recognize their own true power over their lives. They seek to control other people or the situation in general because this is perceived to be the thing that holds all the power over them. They believe other people hold the keys to their lives and spend their time trying to force others to perform according to their expectations, rather than simply taking control over their lives, their needs, their behavior and their emotions themselves. They believe others owe them for the things they cannot do for themselves.
Well, you don't. They are responsible for their own lives, their own needs, their own actions, their own decisions and their own emotions. If they can't take care of these things on their own, there isn't anything anyone can ever do for them because nothing will ever be enough. Not only is it a totally unfair expectation, but it is not possible to do these things for another person. Everyone will always fail them and let them down because they are expecting things from other people that are impossible for other people to do.
No one can fix somebody. No one can convince someone of their worth. No one can make someone happy. No one can make someone else whole. We all have to do these things for ourselves. We start by taking the power back that we have given to others and use it to do these things for ourselves. Because remember: if your value is based on what others think you are worth, you have literally given other people the power to decide for you what you think of yourself. Maybe if abusers could take their power back, they wouldn't need to abuse others just to get through their lives.
Louise Elcross from Preston on October 02, 2019:
I had a dreadful experience with my niece that I loved like a daughter. I was always supportive of her and everything she did and truly wanted the best for her. Over the last couple of years I heard her say a couple of remarks that made me feel like I had been kicked in the stomach. One minute she was praising me telling what an inspiration I was to her and how much I have made her life so much better and the next coming out with cutting remarks. In the end I confronted her and her verbal assault was shocking. The betrayal I felt was unbelievable. I was ill and in a vulnerable position in my life when the final realisation of the betrayal hit. I think I must have been dealing with a Narcissist.