This topic is near and dear to my heart. It has probably caused me more inner turmoil and pain than any other sort of abuse only because of the way it twisted my mind into believing that I was at fault for everything that happened to me. It made me believe that I deserved all I got and that I should be grateful for anything I still had or was ever given to me no matter how damaging.
Abusive people bait their victims. They play their cards close to their chests so that the victim is unable to see the fact that they are not being cared for or loved but rather, they are being baited. Abusers are great at this. The more years they practice it? The better they get. They spend their time getting you in to their web and when it is far too late for you to escape, they have made you fall in love with them, trust them or they have made you dependent upon them for your survival (particularly if you are their child). They let you in so far and make you think you are loved only to turn around and bash you.
Abusers enjoy this “framing” game. They provoke a reaction from their chosen target and then claim that reaction is proof of your instability, rudeness, evil-mindedness or that you as the victim are really at fault. They do this to take all the attention away from their own behavior and then this abuser turns around and seeks support from others which ends up turning people against the target/victim. Oh what a tangled web they weave.
This can devastate an individual who is already suffering the effects of the abuse or maltreatment. Now they are being blamed, rejected and often isolated as well.
The abuser gets to enjoy that sense of power and control that he or she gets with impunity and then gets positive attention from playing the victim and fishing for sympathy.
This is also the perfect plan to ensure his/her victim feels too intimidated to even attempt to speak up or expose the truth.
My mother has a black belt in this baiting game. She is able to not only bait her target but she can actually get other people to do the baiting for her unknowingly. Recently she managed to get her real estate agent (who’s never even met me) send me a nasty email asking about my “imaginary friends”.
Here is a professional real estate agent being sucked in to her game and ending up looking really badly. The real estate agent no doubt got spoken to and made to see the error of her ways but the target (me) had to once again deal with a venomous attack courtesy of my mother where she got no blame at all. The real estate agent looked unprofessional and mean, I looked like a nutcase thanks to my very traumatically re-enacted response (I freaked out and totally over-reacted). My mother just sat back and watched it all unfold. Talented eh?
This sort of thing happens all the time. If I say nothing, she continues to spin webs until I walk in to one unknowingly but then when I try to get out of her way or out of a web? I look paranoid, vindictive, or just plain old batsh*t crazy. Somehow she walks away smelling like a rose and no one even sees her thorns.
So what on earth do we do with the feelings of shame, being at fault when we really know we are not, the fear of speaking out, the isolation, and if your situation is at all like mine? Having people who you really loved or cared about turn against you based on incorrect information?
I think the only really good piece of advice I can offer here really has nothing to do with this subject at all. Weird right? 😉
I used to think that finding good people who believe you and support you was the key but somehow that doesn’t stop the attacks. It sure helps to have good friends but it doesn’t stop the onslaught.
I think the answer lays in our perception of ourselves. Get to know yourself. Get to know what sort of person you are. If you are a kind, loving, thoughtful, caring person who does their best each day? Stick with those thoughts and try to allow the words of your baiter to matter just a little less. If you know who you are, their words can’t affect you as much. You will eventually not feel the need to defend yourself as often because the people around you will know who you really are too. Actions do speak louder than words. It just takes way too long at times.
Sadly this will never take away the sting of each attack nor will it make the manipulator go away but you will begin to recover more quickly and in time you will find ways to prevent more harm to your psyche.
I like to visually picture hateful words coming at me like a group of arrows but then they hit my body sized shield and get ricocheted right back where they came from. I like to imagine the person who spoke those hateful words running away with those arrows following them. It is a silly visualization but shockingly, it works most times.
When it works? I remain calm. When it doesn’t? I flip sh*t. I am a work in progress. 🙂
If you are dealing with this issue as well? It is not your fault! These people who have made you feel badly about yourself are not at all right in the head. “Normal” people don’t go around making other people feel like crap. You are worthy of so much better. Please try to remember that.