Emotional abuse victims often feel a deep level of self-betrayal. Some are told to practice self-forgiveness. At BTR, we believe that every woman is courageous and powerful, and that victims are never to blame for their partner’s abusive behaviors.
Victims of Emotional Abuse Often Blame Themselves
Victims often find logical reasons to blame themselves. While these may make perfect sense at first, with healing, many women are able to accept that they did what they could to survive the abuse.
Further, understanding that these feelings are universal and that many other women are experiencing them too, can be especially healing and vindicating.
You may feel that you betrayed yourself by:
- Not spotting the abuse sooner in the relationship
- Entering into a relationship with your abuser at all, especially if you felt uncomfortable with him or if you were warned about him
- Not leaving as soon as you realized it was abuse
- Trying to make him more interested in you sexually or intellectually to keep him from hurting you
- Not being able to protect your children from his abusiveness
- Ignoring that nagging feeling that “something’s not quite right” (especially after discovering pornography, affairs, or other lies)
- Lying or covering up his abusiveness to others
Do I Need To Forgive Myself?
“Forgive yourself for being abused” and its variations are buzz-phrases in the self-help community.
This mentality is not helpful. It places blame on victims and excuses abusers. Instead, victims can give themselves compassion.
To show self-compassion, victims can:
- Give themselves permission to set boundaries
- Find healthy support systems
- Become educated about trauma and abuse
- Take “time off” from recovery work and enjoy relaxing hobbies
- Journal and create art
- Process the trauma at their own pace
- Give their bodies extra sleep and nutrition
The First Step of Safety Is Survival
Many women berate themselves for what they perceive as “self-betrayal”, when in fact, they were doing what they had to do to survive. At BTR, we believe that a woman’s safety is the highest priority. Her emotional, sexual, physical, spiritual, and financial safety are essential to not only survival but eventual healing.
How Can I Find Safety?
When victims set and maintain effective boundaries, they are separating themselves and their children from abusive behavior. A boundary is not a statement, request, or ultimatum. It is a courageous action that a woman takes to make sure that her safety is not breached in any way.
BTR.ORG Supports Victims of Emotional Abuse
At BTR, we understand the complex emotions that women feel as they process trauma and abuse. Feelings of self-betrayal are real and can be devastating. But understand that you are not to blame for the abuse that you have endured. In fact, you are a triumphant warrior for just surviving another day through the trauma.