His mom was so mean to him. She hated boys and hated him. She blamed him for everything. She would yell at him one day and completely ignore him the next. He retreated within himself. You are the only one who has loved him unconditionally.
His dad was always gone. His sister was too busy to spend time with him. He was a hurting child and nobody cared. Nobody cares about him and everyone leaves him. You are the only one who stays.
He was abused. He was hit, called names and locked in a closet when he was naughty. He couldn’t to do anything right. Everyone blamed him for everything. You love him and make him a better man.
He was in the military and he saw horrible things! The only thing that helps him is to be hugged and looked after. He can’t make it without you.
All of these stories are true. Many abusers were abused as children. Many of them do have a terrible childhood or a terrible time in the military. Many of these stories are used as leverage to guilt you, the victim, into staying longer and into accepting abuse.
As humans, we have an automatic reaction to others who are in pain. We want to help them. We want to love them. We long to make things better for them. We work hard to help them be happy and stable. We accept the message that we are the only ones who can help them. We love them so much that we take on the role of caretaker.
Caretakers are people who accept the emotional responsibility of a relationship. They support the other person physically, emotionally and relationally. They are scared to hurt the abuser more by setting boundaries or by leaving them. It’s interesting to note that, with all the care and attention a caretaker gives to the abuser, they never receive the same amount of care and attention back.
The abuser isn’t concerned about hurting the victims feelings or about ensuring her emotional safety. They may show remorse, but usually that is just to ‘honeymoon’ the victim back into the relationship. They may say the right things, do the right things and use all the right emotional words, however, it’s short lived. Those words and deeds are done for a specific reason, to manipulate you into caretaking them some more.
The truth is, each person makes choices regardless of their history. Each adult has to choose to grow up, accept responsibility for their actions and choices. We all have the chance to learn, to grow and to change. Every one of us should learn to accept responsibility for our lives. There are many people in this world who were abused but choose not to become abusers themselves.
Abusers don’t typically like to grow up. They don’t want to be responsible. They much prefer to keep the people around them feeling like they are responsible. Others are forced to walk on egg shells, doing everything possible to keep the abuser happy. The focus, then stays on the abuser. Their ‘sob story’ ensures that he has the leverage to induce guilty feelings in the heart of victim. When she feels guilty for hurting him more, for abandoning him or for giving up on him, then she is more likely to stay put and keep caretaking.
As a caretaker, you care! You love! You don’t want to be the cause of more hurt and harm. Love, care and kindness are wonderful attributes to have. These attributes can be manipulated and used against you though so it is very wise to be aware. As an abuser, he cares; about himself! He loves; himself! He’s kind; to himself! He doesn’t care about causing you harm as long as his needs are looked after. Your story doesn’t matter and wouldn’t make a difference to him but his story makes you feel guilty and so you stay.
If you find yourself in a caretaking role there are things you can do to help yourself. It is vitally important that you begin to pay attention to you. Notice your internal feelings, your thoughts, your opinions and honor what happens inside your head by acknowledging yourself.
You can also:
- Begin to learn how to healthily set up boundaries for yourself.
- Speak kinds words to you. Stop allowing the mean words to define who you are, counter each mean word you hear with kindness toward yourself.
- Learn to practice self care. Find things that you enjoy and do them!
- Read! Educate yourself regarding abuse.
- Reach out! Break your isolation and make some friends who can support you and love you for who you are.
Abusive behavior is a choice. Expecting someone else to be responsible for your life while you are free to do or say whatever you want is the sign of an emotionally immature person who only cares for themselves. They are not capable of participating in a healthy, connected relationship. Love, for them drives one direction, straight to fulfillment of their needs only. You don’t matter, as a person, to them but you do matter to others. You can break free from the cycle of manipulation. You can refuse to be held responsible for their story and for their future. You are strong enough to begin to see through their lies and deception. You have the opportunity to make them own their story and stop allowing it to be used against you.
You can choose you and its the right thing to do.