In my last post, I didn’t address the often asked question, “Why doesn’t she leave just leave him?”
People usually ask it in the context of a wife not leaving her abusive husband, but it happens just as often the other way around. Or it could be a person not cutting off ties with an abusive family or a family that serves as a proxy for a narcissist within it. Whatever – why doesn’t the target of the abuse leave?
Every abused person asks themselves the same question! Truth is stranger than fiction, but here is the controlling fact of the matter: That’s what “normal” people do when subjected to abuse, but the abused partner or family target IS THE NORMAL one. Only they have been so abused and so manipulated they feel powerless to change the situation.
Truth be told, people who say “Why doesn’t she leave him?” wouldn’t leave themselves if they were in her shoes.
People do vary in how much abuse it takes to get them to leave. That is, some will leave sooner than others. But they all take far more abuse than anyone would think a human being could. Why? It’s counter intuitive.
Clinging to your abuser is an ancient art. It’s the art of the Inquisitor and the torturer. A black art that works like magic. The Inquisition and the KGB had this down to an art form.
The crucial point is that this is what NORMAL people do. The abuser creates an upside-down world in which all normal human reactions work backwards.
How long? how much abuse does it take to make you face facts and see that he or she is just evil – this person you love with all your heart… is evil. An unthinkable thought, no? Even knowing that he returns your love about as much as a snake would return your love, you still think he’ll change. Has he just been playing you for a fool? Another unthinkable thought. Denial.
Yet in the cases I know about, the victim always does eventually face facts and leave, only to return time and again. They didn’t enter into the relationship “seeking” abuse, and people who say this are just ignorant or narcissistic themselves. Volunteering or willfully agreeing to be abused is contrary to the laws of nature. It makes my blood boil every time I hear someone say this about an abused person.
The victim hates the abuse and tries to avoid it. The problem is that narcissists are deliberately impossible people, so the only way to avoid narcissistic abuse is to avoid the narcissist himself. Even though the abused partner or family victim wants to get away, it takes more than just the want to, it takes knowledge and skills to finally make a clean break. Depending on the amount of control the abuser has, the victim may believe that you providing them information is some sort of test engineered by their abuser, so they don’t accept or worse, they volunteer the information to the abuser. This leads to more abuse and more isolation.
Look at the situation you’re in now. Love is an attraction. You love this person with all your heart – an irresistible attraction to him. But he responds to your love with a barrage of abusive tactics, and you develop an irresistible repulsion from him, that you try desperately to hide, but he senses it and resents you for it, subjecting you to even more abuse.
Here she is on her knees before her abuser, clinging to him for dear life in the naïve belief that she can exorcise the demon inside him. The more violently he rejects her, the tighter she clings. Something’s gotta give.
I have asked “Why doesn’t he leave her?” about my son. I understood all that was going on very well, and after doing much research had her pegged as a narcopath, but still I asked the question. It seemed to me that he was being exceedingly dense. But he wasn’t really. The abusive tactics used against all innocent partners is devastating and how someone reacts to it is personal and person. We are wrong to say what we would do if that was us, simply because it will never be us. You may be the victim of an abusive partner or family member, but the dynamics will never be same in every situation.
However, no abused partner or target should ever be made to feel guilty for the abuse itself, despite being told this by their abuser. For her to share in the guilt for abuse, she would have to be a CAUSE of it, and just being with an abuser isn’t a cause of the abuse. If you believe that it is, then am I to assume you blame a murdered bank teller for her death simply because she took a job at the bank that was then robbed?
All victims do suffer the guilt and shame for believing the lies, not seeing the manipulation, for failing to be honest with themselves, not knowing the truth, and for putting up with abuse far too long. But, this is guilt that is manufactured by the abuse endured. It’s these very “guilt trips” that keep many abused people in abusive relationships. Sooner or later the victim realizes that she is slowly becoming just as cold and unfeeling as her abuser, and that the abuse will really drive her out of her mind if she doesn’t come out of denial and face facts.
It’s absurd to view her feelings of regret and remorse as somehow partly JUSTIFYING what the abuser did. Just being with someone doesn’t justify being abused. Loving someone doesn’t make you guilty of ALLOWING your abuser to kick you around. Being vulnerable and empathic doesn’t give your abuser the right to eviscerate you. The target’s failure to leave doesn’t take one bit of the guilt and blame away from the abuser. This is what the abuser wants us all to think. I have never seen a victim of a narcopath intentionally provoke their abuser. In fact, it’s the other way around. The abuser always provokes their target into conflict, then turns around and lays the blame at her feet. Whenever I find myself asking myself “Why doesn’t he leave her?” I withhold judgment. I do this on the basis of the concept of competence to judge. It’s a judicial concept that holds true in personal judgement. I am just not competent to judge anyone for staying in an abusive relationship. I will never fully appreciate the depth and magnitude experienced by him/her throughout the relationship. We only know enough when we, too, have been in his/her shoes, and even then we are not competent either. The abuse is 100% the abuser’s sin. He is 100% guilty of it and deserves 100% of the blame.