Was my abuser really being mean to me?

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That was a topic of a recent coaching session, and oddly enough it gives me pause. I say “oddly enough” because in my logical mind, it’s an obvious answer. Was my abuser mean to me? If we’re going to call abuse what it really is, then yes, he was being mean.

Is there possibly anything nice about abuse? Is there any good reason that anyone should ever be abused? Of course not!

For me though, while I know what that kid up the street did to me so long ago wasn’t good, actually saying that he was mean to me, admitting it out loud, isn’t as easy you might think.

The reason this came up was the fact that I had emailed my coach not long ago and I mentioned in that email that my abuser was mean to me. However, when we were talking tonight and it was brought up that “we know” he was mean to me, I minimized it and said, “well he wasn’t really mean to me”.

That sparked further discussion because it contradicted what I said before in the email. It wasn’t intentionally contradictory, but still it necessitated further investigation to try and understand why I am minimizing the intention of those acts.

From my point of view, when I say that he wasn’t really being mean to me, I was talking about in the literal sense. At least in the literal sense as I justifying it to myself at the time.

I wasn’t putting two and two together, so to speak, and really seeing the entire situation for what it was. I was essentially trying to let him off the hook a bit...more on that in a moment. 

He wasn’t hitting me, screaming at me, or demeaning me in the verbal sense. His acts, although terrible, were very manipulative and cunning.  He was skilled, and groomed me enough that I was believing what he was doing was fine, it was normal, it was what the cool kids did.

That devious grooming had such an effect on me that I was able to justify what he did as not really being mean. It’s almost as if I’m saying, “hey it wasn’t all THAT bad”.

That’s how vulnerable and how easily, as a child,  I bought into this manipulation.

He knew that verbal abuse or physical violence would be more apt to cause me to run, never come back, or tell someone.  Plus, it would be easier for people to notice physical wounds, than if he used my own emotional insecurities against me.

He stalked me like a wolf, and preyed on where I was most vulnerable, the inner me.

So here I am, going back time after time, to this teenager who I thought surely wasn’t mean, but instead the coolest guy ever just doing what cool guys do. In my quest to fit in and be cool, I bought in to his manipulation.

Was he really being mean? YES, he was being mean! Abuse is not nice, it’s mean.

Verbal, Physical, Emotional, Ritual, Sexual, it’s all abuse and it’s all mean. There should be no justifying it at all, not for us or for others. No excuses to let our abuser off the hook at all or place the blame on us. It’s squarely on the person(s) who did it.

I gotta say, it feels good to admit that YES, he was being mean to me. At the same time, it still feels a bit unsettling. It’s going against everything he told me, showed me, and ingrained into my head. It almost makes me feel guilty to admit it.

It takes time to process these types of revelations; simply saying it is one thing but believing it and embracing it takes time.

It’s a combination of trying to feel better, by equating the abuse as something mean that was done to me.  Conversely, that guilty gremlin in my head still wants to try and let my abuser off the hook.

It may seem ridiculous to say that, but hey it’s what I feel right now. Perhaps you’ve felt this way before?

As time goes on and I continue doing all the right things, putting in the work to heal, and being honest with myself, I’m sure I’ll feel differently. I will be able to see this for what it is – a mean act; and not feel guilty about it and want to let him off the hook in any respect.

When you are right smack dab in the middle of a situation, you can’t always envision or accept what the ultimate outcome will be. I just have to be OK with that, and know I’m on the right track. This light bulb moment of sorts, is just another step in the right direction.

I’m on my way, just gotta keep goin’!



image courtesy of wallpaper.zone


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Blogger-Podcaster-Author-Advocate for Mental Health.

Matt is survivor of childhood sexual abuse & narcissistic abuse, living with Dissociation, Anxiety, & PTSD.

This blog exists to inspire all who have survived the trauma of abuse. All posts, podcasts, and videos are my life as a survivor shared openly and honestly to help inspire as many as possible to speak up, speak out, and not be ashamed.

3 Responses to " Was my abuser really being mean to me? "

  1. Hi Matt, I totally agree with you on this. It is not always as easy as it might seem to acknowledge and face the true extent of the abuse and its damaging effects on us. Even after years of healing work, I still sometimes catch myself minimizing harmful things that were are are being done to me. It helps me to honor that minimizing was a coping mechanism during the abuse. It helped keep us sane at the time. But now we have outgrown the need to minimize and we are ready to face the truth, head on, as that is the only way to process the negative emotions that came with the abuse and then let them go and move on. Only way past this stuff is through it. Also know that you don’t have to stay stuck in the crappiness. As we process the truth and the negative emotions, we then can movie forward from a much more powerful, real and stable place.

  2. I have friends whose abusers told them the abuse was a gift not a punishment, I have known women who have been sexually abused by their fathers that it was ‘how daddies say they love you’ and so the child’s mind gets confused with what is damaging (mean) and uplifting, good and bad.

  3. Pippit says:

    I can relate to what you’re saying. My most recent abuse was at the hands of doctors and a few other medical “professionals”, and I just recently found out how systemic it was and that they in a sense ganged up on me while some of them behaved until almost the end as if they were my allies to my face, while charting really mean things in my medical records. I still have a hard time understanding how someone can behave one way to your face and totally be screwing you behind your back.

    This has made it impossible for me to trust doctors because they could so bold-faced lie to me and dupe me, so I cannot even trust my own instincts of when somebody appears to be nice because it might not be genuine and I might not be able to tell the difference. This is very scary, especially when one is actively ill and still has to see doctors to get properly diagnosed and treated.

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