They call it “reactive abuse” when it’s self-defense.
They say the blame lies with you when you’re anything less than happy and supportive about the lies he’s been telling for years.
You’re the problem for being the victim of his abusive behaviors?
These are the ways they victim blame you. Kate is back on the BTR podcast explaining victim blaming modalities with Anne. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.
They Call Self-Defense “Reactive Abuse”
At BTR, we recognize that there is no such thing as “reactive abuse”.
It’s self-defense; it’s protective action.
When the abuser and his enablers call it “reactive abuse” they are putting you and the abuser on the same playing field – which is ridiculous. Abuse is about an unequal dynamic of control. That’s why it’s abuse.
Let’s say a husband is standing in the doorway and a wife wants to get out and she pushes him or she throws stuff. They call that reactive abuse. You were reacting in an abusive way or you were being mutually abusive. So he’s being abusive and you’re being abusive. And that whole thing is completely bogus because, because what is the intent behind it? If an abuser is standing in the doorway blocking you and you push him, it is not the same thing. It’s self-defense; self-defense is not the same thing as abuse. If we were talking about murder, if somebody came into your home and tried to kill you, tried to kill your family, and you shot them, what would they call that? In most cases that is self defense. So how would it feel if people were like, you murdered that man. It wasn’t murder. So why would anybody call it reactive murder? It’s not murder. It is self defense. There is a huge difference because of the intent behind it.Kate, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Community Member
They Call Normal Responses To Abuse “Crazy”
Victims need to know that normal reactions to abuse or disclosures of abuse are anger, sadness. They can be hysterical; if they are not hysterical from just finding out that they’ve been abused for 10 years, emotionally and psychologically and are a victim of sexual coercion, like, are they okay? And so for the Pornography Addiction Recovery Complex to say victims, you need to be really careful about how you respond to him so you don’t hurt him when he admits to abusing – that’s insane. It’s absolutely crazy.Anne Blythe, Founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery
The Pornography Addiction Recovery Complex (PARC) is especially guilty of victim blaming in that they put a stupidly harmful expectation on victims to never, ever behave like victims.
When victims discover abusive behaviors, the PARC tells victims that unless they respond with emotions like patience and understanding and compassion and love – we’re crazy. We’re the abusers.
It’s a gigantic gaslight.
Thanks, CSATs of the world.
The Drama Triangle Doesn’t Apply To Abusive Situations
One common victim blaming modality is The Drama Triangle – wherein victims are the instigators of all relationtional issues. But the interesting thing here is that the concept of the drama triangle was never intended to be applied to actual abuse scenarios.
When you’re being abused, you can never play the victim in the drama triangle, because you’re an actual victim. Which means the drama triangle doesn’t apply at all. Don’t use it. Stay away from, it has nothing to do with you. You were not playing the victim. You’re not being the persecutor. You’re not going to do these different roles. You are an actual victim. This is not you playing the victimKate, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Community Member
Real victims can’t “play” victims. But abusers love to play the victim. Which makes things very confusing when they start using the drama triangle to blame actual victims for the abusive dynamic of the relationship.
Our advice? The moment someone starts using “Drama Triangle” lingo with you, they’re blaming you. Set boundaries to protect yourself from their harmful behavior.
BTR Is Here For You
At BTR, we believe victims. We believe in holding abusers accountable. We believe in ONE victim and ONE perpetrator.
We believe YOU.
Join our BTR Group Sessions today and begin your journey to healing.
Welcome to BTR. This is Anne.
Kate is back on today’s episode. Today we’re gonna talk about victim blaming modalities. Kate has done a ton of research about victim blaming modalities and how they’re all rooted in misogyny. So Kate, of course, we’re all women and we’re all interested combating misogyny. So you really took this to heart and started researching. Can you talk about some of the research that you did?
So I started posting a bunch of victim blaming posts on Facebook, like a whole series of them. My first one was codependency and then I started doing, I think the second one was reactive abuse and they’re all just these different modalities that are entirely victim blaming. They’re bogus. They’re not even real.
When you use the word modalities, what do you mean by modalities? In this context?
What Are Victim Blaming Modalities?
Just different models of treating people or viewing them. That’s all. So you got codependency, you have reactive abuse, you have the drama triangle, which you already know. There’s Stockholm syndrome, learned helplessness, and codependency. All of these are all victim blaming and they’ve been used on victims for a very long time. They’re all bogus. None of them are real – learned helplessness – it’s not actually real if you go back to the, the old research studies of what they did, it’s not real. It’s like they did this research study and they’re like, aha, I figured it out. This is what it means. And then they applied it to abuse victims and it doesn’t work because the information they got from it was not accurate in the first place.
Will you read that list again for listeners who were like, wait, wait, wait, I wanna hear.
You have codependency, reactive abuse, the drama triangle, Stockholm Syndrome, trauma bonding, learned helplessness, and pro dependency.
The Myth of Reactive Abuse
Okay, so I’m gonna do my own rant. I haven’t had one of those for a while where I get on and it’s just me talking about trauma bonding. I did a coffee and convo with Sarah McDugal about this cause I’ve developed my own model that I call Manufactured Relational Tether. Instead of trauma bond, that more accurately describes what is really happening. Let’s start with reactive abuse. So a lot of victims might not have heard this term. Can you describe what that is? And then why it’s victim blaming?
So reactive abuse is like, let’s say a husband is standing in the doorway and a wife wants to get out and she pushes him or she throws stuff. They call that reactive abuse. You were reacting in an abusive way or you were being mutually abusive. So he’s being abusive and you’re being abusive. And that whole thing is completely bogus because, because what is the intent behind it? If an abuser is standing in the doorway blocking you and you push him, it is not the same thing. It’s self-defense; self-defense is not the same thing as abuse. If we were talking about like murder, if somebody came into your home and tried to kill, you tried to kill your family and you shot them. What would they call that? Hopefully in most cases, I know there are some extreme examples. I’m not talking about that. But in most cases that is self defense. So how would it feel if people were like, oh you, so you murdered that man, it wasn’t murder. So why would anybody call it like reactive murder? It’s not murder. It is self defense. There is a huge difference because the intent behind it.
“The Foundation of This is Misogyny and Entitlement”
So the foundation of this is misogyny and entitlement. And this is why abuse is like, she should be treating me a certain way. Right? She should give me certain things and this is how she should act. And this is how she should support me or whatever, do what I want. And if she doesn’t do that, it is quote unquote abusive to me because I am entitled to these things. So if like dinner isn’t on the table or if I don’t have sex or if she doesn’t treat me with respect, meaning do everything I want her to do. If I say I want this room to be blue. And she’s like, well, I don’t like blue. She’s not respecting me. Right. Instead of just, oh, she’s a person equal to me. And so our opinions are equal.
She thinks I’m wrong.
“Abusers Will Always View Themselves As The Victim Who Is Responding To Their Victim’s Abuse”
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So they actually see abusers will always view themselves as the victim who is responding to their victim’s abuse. So they will always claim that their victim is either at fault or that she is abusive or that she had some cause because they genuinely feel like because of their paradigm of entitlement that she is abusing him. And so he is just reacting to the abuse rather than realizing that his entitlements are what is making him abusive in the first place.
Yes. And her reacting in any way is not the same thing as abuse. It’s not, the intent is different. She’s not setting out, oh, I want to hurt him. I’m gonna push him outta the way because I just want to hurt him. I’m in control. Also. There’s a huge power difference. One always has more power than the other. And I’ve heard many, many wives, like, maybe I was abusive. I don’t know. I, I called them a bunch of names. I even threw something at him. Maybe I was abusive too. And it’s like, who has more control in the relationship? Is it you? I don’t know. Or is it probably him? Because he’s the one who’s been lying. Who’s been gaslighting. Who’s been abusing.
He’s also the, the breadwinner. He is also making the money. You have no money.
“You Are Coming From A Place of Self-Defense & He’s Coming From A Place of Abuse & Entitlement & It Matters”
You are coming from a place of self defense and he’s coming from a place of abuse and entitlement and it matters. Some people are like, well, why does it matter? Like if I call it reactive abuse, it still will help me not to react that way. And I’m like, okay. It matters. Because the words we use matter if we call it mutual abuse, it is a guarantee that other people who hear that will think that you’re equally at fault. Even if you don’t believe you are, other people will, even the abuser. So they did this study where they even switched a few words around and it still had a huge impact. For example, they did a study where their participants read, “Lisa was approached by Dan at a party and Dan gave Lisa a drink spiked with a drug. Later that night, Lisa was assaulted by Dan,” and then the participants had to basically rate the level of which they felt it was Lisa’s fault. The researchers then switched the perpetrator to be the subject in a sentence, making it like Dan approached Lisa instead of Lisa approached Dan and they discovered that people were less likely to subconsciously blame the victim when the perpetrator was the subject. So it’s like words matter. Any words that make it sound like the victim is at fault will always make people subconsciously blame the victim. Even if they don’t mean to subconsciously view the victim actually at fault. So we cannot use words like that.
So victims in this scenario should say he was blocking the door; in an effort to get to safety, I pushed him.
It’s Not Reactive Abuse. It’s Self-Defense.
Yeah. It’s self-defense – it is self-defense. Self defense. It is self defense.
Or he lied to me again to my face and in an effort to know the truth, I yelled. You can even say it wasn’t effective. I didn’t get the truth because I yelled. I chose a different method of truth. Seeking after that, we talked in a previous episodes about the pornography addiction recovery complex.There are people out there who say, okay, now when he comes to you with his porn use, you need to react a certain way. Like let’s say he is been lying to you for 10 years and he is been manipulating you and gaslighting you. And finally he comes to you and he says, I’ve been using porn. You, victim of his 10 years of emotional and psychological abuse and sexual coercion. You need to react a certain way in order to help him. And instead of saying, when you tell someone that you have been victimizing them for 10 years, you need to be aware that they’re going to react in a variety of ways that are not going to be about you.
The “Porn Addiction” Recovery Community Is Harming Victims With This Nonsense
It’s about them, right? I’m upset. I’m angry. I don’t wanna talk to you. All of these are natural, normal ways that she should be behaving. If she sat there and said, oh, I love you. I care about you. Thank you for sharing. I’m so glad you’re getting to a healthy place. What can I do to help you? I don’t know. Maybe some women might react that way in trauma because they’re like not sure what to do, but I’m just saying like, they need to know that a normal reaction to abuse or a disclosure of abuse should be anger, sadness. They should be hysterical if they were not hysterical from just finding out that they were abused for 10 years, emotionally and psychologically and a victim of sexual coercion, like, mm are they okay? And so for the pornography addiction recovery complex to say victims, you need to be really careful about how you respond to him. So you don’t hurt him when he admits to abusing you is insane. It’s absolutely crazy.
It is insane. It’s actually promoting dishonesty. And I don’t know why, because dishonesty is like one of the bigger problems going on the marriage anyway from the abuser. So why are we trying to promote it in the wife as well? Like, oh, hold your feelings in.
Trauma Mama Husband Drama
I’m gonna take a break here for just a second to talk about my book, Trauma Mama Husband Drama. You can find it on our books page which has a curated list of all of the books that we recommend. My book Trauma Mama Husband Drama is a picture book for adults. So it is the easiest way for you to explain what’s going on to someone who might not understand it. It’s also just a good reference for yourself because it shows what’s happening with very telling and emotional illustrations, as well as infographics at the back.
Women Are Allowed To Be Concerned About Concerning Behaviors
So anything like that, that if they’re encouraging women who are dating, when a guy that she’s dating talks about is porn use, you know, you need to be kind, that is not true. She has every right to be like, wow, that is kind of alarming. I need some time to think about it. I’m not sure if I wanna date you anymore. I mean, that’s a totally fair thing for them to do. And if they didn’t do that, I would be a little bit concerned about her, right? I’d be like, whoa, she does not know what she’s in for. If she’s not taking this really seriously.
Well, a lot of people don’t realize that you, you can’t give your consent. If you don’t have a full understanding of what’s going on,
Right. It’s like a complete lack of consent and coercion.
The Truth About The Drama Triangle
So I think you already know the Drama Triangle is victim blaming, right?
Absolutely. Yes. In fact, I have a graphic about it.
Yeah. And did you even know that the guy who made it, he even stated, this is not for an actual abuse and perpetrator situation.
In the back of Trauma Mama Husband Drama there’s a graphic that circles the drama triangle and like crosses it out. Like Ghostbusters crossing it out.
Well, I actually have that infographic on my Facebook post. I use the BTR logo.
So let’s talk about the drama triangle for a minute. So what is the drama triangle for people who aren’t familiar with it?
The Drama Triangle Myth Explained
Okay. So drama triangle. It’s also called the cart triangle or the persecuted and rescuer triangle, whatever. They have so many different names. So what it is is where they have three roles. There’s the victim. The woe is me, the persecutor, the bully. And then the rescuer, like, let me fix you. And basically they all come together because they all have psychological unmet needs often developed in childhood. The interesting thing is that the victim in the model is thought to be the start or the catalyst of the entire drama triangle.
Really? That actually is in line with the industrial complex saying, well, it’s her being triggered. That’s the problem. It’s not him triggering her. That’s the problem.
Yes. This is just another example where the victim is made out to be the worst person possible way more than the abuser. So in this whole drama triangle, it’s like, for some reason, I don’t know why, but this got applied to actual abuse situations. I don’t understand it. Because the guy even came out and said, Steven Carman, he even came out and said that these are people playing the role of the victim. They’re not actually the victim. They’re just manipulating. So if you have somebody who is legit being abused, they can never play that victim in the drama triangle, which means that drama triangle should not apply at all. Don’t use it. Stay away from, it has nothing to do with you. You were not playing the victim. You’re not being the persecutor. You’re not going to do these different roles. You are an actual victim. This is not you playing the victim.
“You Cannot Play The Victim When You Are Actually The Victim”
Right? Exactly. I was gonna say that exact same thing. You cannot play the victim when you are actually the victim. In fact, when you are actually the victim, the abuser, he is the perpetrator, but then he plays the role of the victim and he also plays the role of the rescuer. And he does that to manipulate you.
Yes. And so he can play all those different things. But that doesn’t mean you are part of the drama triangle. And I know there’s some people who’ve tried to put it towards these wives and like, oh, here, you need to learn how to get out of the drama triangle. And it’s like, you were never in the first place cuz it didn’t apply to you. So why do you need to work on getting out of something you were never in technically in the first place.
Exactly. So there are not three roles and someone’s playing a part because a lot of times they’ll say that she plays the rescuers. But what that means is there are only two roles in reality, real actual roles, the perpetrator and the victim and the perpetrator can act like a victim. He can act like a rescuer. He can groom, he can Hoover. He can manipulate, but he is always the perpetrator. And she is always the victim in that scenario.
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Yes. It’s not like they go back and forth like, oh, well then she got really, really angry and started yelling and calling him names. So then she became the perpetrator. It’s like, no, no there’s still a power differential. Somebody still has more control,
Stay tuned next week. Kate and I are gonna finish up our conversation about victim blaming. So we’ll see you next week. If this podcast is helpful to you, please support it. And until next week stay safe out there.
My husband has been gaslighting me for years. Last Wednesday we had a “blowup” because he refused to give me the car I owned prior to the marriage (we’ve only been married 14 months). It got heated and he manhandled the keys from me and took off.
He often “abandons me” and retreats and doesn’t tell me where he is for days etc. He told me I owed him an apology. Then, 4 hours later I was in a very serious accident that was not my fault. The airbags went off and broke my nose, teeth, gums, cheekbone and I was scared to death. I’ve had PTSD since childhood and he knows it.
My sisters and family came to the rescue, and took me for treatment
My husband told them he was at work and would be home next day. He never came home and I got increasingly upset. I had 14 stitches in my mouth, a broken nose! He hasn’t been home and said I owe him an apology. I’m beside myself. So anxious and upset I’m going out of my mind. He knows this about me deep down. I have no idea what to do! I’m sick. And I think he’s counting on it.
Tonya! I’m so sorry. Have you considered going to live with your family or friends? They sound supportive? In the meantime, our coaches are here for you it you’d like to talk:).
I am so happy I found your podcast. The goddess in me thanks the goddess in you.