Minimising abusive behaviour is something abusers and
narcissists are adept at. The people who
abused me, wouldn’t deny their actions, but would give their reasons for the
abuse as if any of it was justifiable. I
even started to believe their behaviours were justifiable. I believed I deserved what was happening.
According to researchers: “Minimisation is a type of deception
involving denial coupled with rationalisation in situations where complete
denial is implausible. It is the opposite of exaggeration.
Minimisation—downplaying the significance of an event or emotion—is a common
strategy in dealing with feelings of guilt.” (Source: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minimisation_(psychology))
For example; there was an occasion where my ex-abuser
strangled me. In the process of
strangling me he managed to trail me from the living room in which we were
standing, through the hall and into the spare room. He pushed me on top of the bed with his hands
around my neck before collapsing on top of me, and hurriedly left the room,
looking visibly upset.
This was the first occasion of physical abuse in this
relationship. Filled with the naïve
bravery that alcohol can bring, and triggered, I confronted him, flailing my
arms, screaming and shouting: “What is happening? Why have you done this? How
dare you put your hands on me! I swore
this would never happen to me again, not you, never you… Why have you done
He appeared broken, was crying and exclaimed: “I don’t know. This always happens. I always end up hurting
people”. At that moment, I should have
taken those words for what they truly were – a foretelling of future attacks to
come, an admission of a dangerous character flaw and one of my biggest sign
posts alerting me to get out of the relationship.
Despite how broken he appeared at that point, the night once
again descended into madness not long after his tears. I do not wish to recall every detail, just
simply that I managed to escape and made the long journey back to my hometown
to stay at a friend’s house for the night, for my safety. This sort of thing had happened to me previously
by someone else, and I promised myself I would run if it happened again. So, I ran. I ran to my friend’s house. This friend just happened to be male. He treated me like a gentleman by allowing me
to stay there, letting me rant and cry and shake and be vulnerable. He listened.
He was there for me. For that, I
am forever thankful. And for the
unrelenting jokes that were later made at his expense, I still feel solely
When I explained that I stayed at a mutual male friends’
house, my ex became furious. He started
screaming and shouting about how I had abandoned him in his time of need, that
I should have known he didn’t mean it, and how could I stay at another boy’s
house, how could I possibly have done
that to him? I knew what my ex had been
through. I shouldn’t have abandoned
him. I should not have left to stay at
my friend’s house. Today, I agree I should not have stayed there. Not because I
have stern jealousy-based gender-role beliefs about friendships but because I
should have run home to my mum and dad.
Even then I knew I wasn’t going to leave him, just yet. I was deep within the web he had spun for me
at that point. I thought I could help
him. I couldn’t let anyone too close to me find out what had happened, they
wouldn’t understand, and perhaps I would never see him again. Little did I realise at this point, never
seeing him again would have been the best thing to happen to my life.
In his fury, he alerted all his friends to my rebellious act of leaving and sleeping at this friend’s house. Nirvana once did a cover of a song called “Where did you sleep last night?”, which since has been a trigger song that causes great anger and pain anytime I hear it. The reason for this, is my abuser’s friends would often play this song – sometimes even picking up the guitar and singing “my girl, my girl, don’t lie to me. Tell me where did you sleep, last night?”, solely to make fun of the situation. To minimise it. To make a joke out of it. I was devastated. I was a laughing stock. I had been strangled, screamed at and spat on. The police had even been out at the house. I was physically moved by the force of his hand through the flat – and all his friends knew this but decided to ignore it and focus on making a joke out of the whole situation. So, me being strangled was quickly forgotten about, and Nirvana’s song cover quickly became the soundtrack to my pain. It didn’t matter what happened to me. It didn’t matter that I was abused. All that mattered was that when I escaped and made the journey miles back to my hometown – I stayed at a male friend’s house. That was all that remained. Everything that my ex done and said was swept under a large carpet, jokes were made at my expense and my ex held it against me for months. When I pleaded my case with him and his jury of friends, he mockingly said: “It wasn’t even that bad, I mean, you didn’t have any bruises on your neck”. No bruises on my neck but I did have a black eye… And my heart had been shattered. It didn’t matter.
This is just one example of minimising. It didn’t matter what happened to me, all
that mattered was how my abusive ex felt.
I had embarrassed him by leaving, I had abandoned him, I should have known not to leave him, how DARE I sleep safely at the house of a
male occupant. This is how it always goes with narcissistic abuse; how you
feel, what has happened to you, what is said to you – it doesn’t matter. All
that matters, is the narcissist. I never
mattered – only what I could do for him and bring to him was what
mattered. I was his possession, he was
in control and I should never step
out of line. I had to be obedient, never
speak up, out or against my abuser. I
must never defend myself. I must never
say that it was abuse to have strangled me – because he refused to see it that
way. He said it was my fault. He said that I deserved it.
And “my girl, my girl” echoed throughout the rest of our
relationship, haunting me as an ever-present reminder that I was not safe. I was not protected. I was not listened
to. I was not cared about. I did not matter. His friends never made any
of it easier. Often finding the
explosive happenings in our relationship amusing. They often added fuel to the fire. I was a
laughing stock. The whole situation was
toxic. You often find that the abuser and their “circle” are just as toxic as
You cannot win in an abusive relationship. You cannot break through their distorted
perception of the world, their defensive mechanisms which are dangerous to your
well-being; you are simply just a pawn in their game, and they will do and say
whatever it takes to convince you that what they are doing, isn’t abuse. They will minimise everything they do and
maximise what your response or reactions to their abuse are. My reaction to being strangled, chased about
the flat, having things thrown at me and broken around me, having my mobile
phone ripped out of my hands and the house phone ripped out of the wall so that
I couldn’t phone my friends for help – my reaction to go and stay at my
friend’s house, was the most offensive thing I could have done. It didn’t matter what my ex had done to
me. It didn’t matter that I was scared
of him. I should have stayed. I should
have withstood his abuse. HE was all
powerful. Within abusive relationships,
you end up a ghost of the person you once were. Except… You are not. You are a human being. You are powerful. You deserve more.
If you have found yourself in an abusive relationship; it is
likely that you have a light and warmth and a power inside of you that is
beyond imaginable. The abuser notices
this in you, and they want to take it from you.
They will suck all your positive energy and take it for themselves. You are not worthless, you are not nobody,
you are SOMEONE and you are powerful.
You have a voice.
If you are being abused, bullied, targeted, put down…. Or
simply, if people are making you feel like shit – It’s probably because you
have something deep within that they want. You have light and warmth, and they
are cold and dark. Do not allow hurtful
behaviour to be swept underneath a carpet.
Do not allow your pain to be ignored.
Do not lose yourself to these people.
Do not let them drain you of everything you are. Run from these people. Keep them far away from you. Love yourself, nurture yourself, cultivate a
life for yourself that makes you happy
and protect yourself. You are precious.
Never forget this. Escape. Free
yourself. You deserve more. You deserve to be happy. You are more than someone else’s emotional,
verbal or physical punching bag.
YOU are power.