Sunday, November 6, 2016

"You brought this upon yourself!", why abusers use this phrase

name of illustration: "You Did Not Bring Abuse Upon Yourself"
image is © Lise Winne

Alternative phrases:
You had it coming.
You brought this on yourself.
You are responsible for this.
You deserved to be hit, bruised, insulted, raped, vilified, ostracized, etc.

According to Daryl Campbell the basic premise is this:
The abuser does wrong and expertly lays one hundred percent of the blame and responsibility for their actions on your shoulders ... Unfortunately many victims fall for it.

But assuming that some of us don't fall for it, why do abusers still keep trying to use it on us? When we still don't buy it, why do they try to get their flying monkey people to convince us?
And then when we still don't fall for the flying monkeys' pressures, guilt trips and insults, why do they still attempt to keep using it to "play the victim" and slandering us? Why won't they just give up on this crazy-making?

The reason why is because this phrase and the "You're ungrateful" phrase are some of the most used phrases by abusers (often referred to as blame-shifting). Most abusers have personality disorders (either Borderline, Narcissism, or Anti-Social Personality Disorder, and they are acting the script of their disorder -- see my post about what abuse is and who it is perpetrated by). 

At the heart of the "You brought this upon yourself" phrasing is that the abuser thinks you deserve to be hurt by them and/or rejected by them. It is a sign that the abuser does not want to care about you, your feelings, how he impacts you, what he does to your self esteem, or what he does to your life. Justice means nothing to him.

What I mean by "the discard phase" is that it is one of three steps that abusers typically use on their victims: idealize, devalue, discard (in that order). The devaluation phase comes when the victim of abuse is no longer giving the borderline, narcissist or sociopath the narcissistic supply they so desperately crave. Once the target shows that he will not stroke the ego of the abuser, the abuser will lash out (and usually abuse) his target. Then the "discard phase" usually follows (i.e. that you, and your issues, feelings and concerns no longer matter to him).

After these three steps is when you will hear the "You brought this upon yourself" phrase.

This wording particularly comes out when you are not stroking his ego, when you have found out that he is lying, stealing or cheating (or some other nefarious activity), when you show that you refuse to be his marionette, when you think of him as "less than perfect", when you show you want to do something for yourself for a change rather than what the abuser wants from you, for not sacrificing yourself for him. Sometimes it is simply because he is sick of you (personality disordered abusers do get tired of their relationships; indeed they get rid of important people in their lives, and sometimes even love to watch the destruction). They get rid of people primarily through a discard (silent treatment), usually accompanied by an uncaring attitude, but they can also be dangerous too. Expect them to talk in a haughty manner while twisting the truth about how they got rid of you when they attempt to retell what happened with others. During their discard, they are known for saying that they love someone else more who they feel will fulfill more of their needs. The discard could be over anything, but it is usually over one of these things, or something equally as unreasonable or petty.

Using "You brought this upon yourself" phrase achieves several things for them. They use it to excuse abuse as though the target "provoked them" to abuse. They use it to try to get control of their victims, as they count on their victims "kissing their ring" despite the abuse. They use it to acquire an uncaring attitude (if they can adopt an unsympathetic point of view, then they won't feel anything about what they have done, and can thereby justify it). They use it to shift the blame from themselves to someone else (blame-shifting is a tell-tale sign of a personality disordered abuser). They use it in hopes that they can use their target for continual blame (especially if it never gets challenged). They use it as an attempt to lower or change the target's self esteem, hoping the target will feel that he deserves abuse. They use it in hopes that the target will self reflect: "Did I, in any way, cause this to happen?"

In the end, "You brought this upon yourself" is a shocking, blame-shifting, brainwashing, horrendous, potent phrase. It is transformed to "He made me do it" or "She made me do it" when they explain away their abuse to authorities or pretend to be a victim (it is often the number one phrase that domestic violence counselors hear from batterers and abusers).

The point of this post is to:
1. make you realize that this is a typical phrase used by all abusers
2. make you realize that you did not bring abuse upon yourself (abuse is an aberrant, unjustified reaction to an interpersonal problem)

In another post I'll cover empaths and why so many of them believe in karma. The short of it is that empaths sometimes "worry" that they are as bad as abusers when they say "Karma will get them" (i.e. get my abuser).

But be assured that this is not the same kind of phrasing or the same kind of meaning as when abusers say "You brought this upon yourself." For one, if you are an empath, you did not abuse anyone. And if you did abuse someone without meaning to, you would apologize right away. You would be concerned about them and the relationship between you. This is in stark contrast to abusers who try to convince you that you are somehow bad, and deserve to be hurt by them, destroyed by them, lied about by them. Saying that "Karma will get them" is in response to their being abusive.

"You brought this upon yourself" is usually in response to their having "narcissistic injury", which they believe is your fault (i.e. them sensing you are finding fault with them about something, them not feeling admired or praised enough, you not kissing their ring, you not doing what you are told to do by them, you refusing to let them control you, you having an autonomous thought or action which is self-driven rather than looking for their approval).

There is a huge difference between the two. And yes, karma does "get" most abusers. I will also talk about that in another post.

If it is your parent who is abusive and rejecting, remember this. Even though you may have been told that you deserved abuse or rejection because you acted unloving towards them, or ungrateful towards them, or weren't trusting towards them, these phrases are most likely projection and they are all signs of a narcissistic disordered parent. Most reputable therapists and psychologists tell parents that their job is to love their children, period, and when they love and validate their children, their children will almost always love them back, and validate them as good parents. When parents are cruel, slandering, rejecting and punishing, children will not love them back, or think of them as good parents, plain and simple.

Also, children will not come out of the womb admiring and loving the parent. That is not their job even though a narcissist will insist that it is. The parent's job is to love the child, not the other way around. It is up to parents to teach their child what love and acceptance feels like by loving and accepting the child. When the child feels loved and accepted, the reciprocity of those feelings will come out as the child matures.

Edit on March 1, 2017: the above 2 paragraphs have to do with "abusive parents", not kind parents who live a life of integrity. I thought this edit was necessary to explain because of the comments I received on this post. -- thanks!

further reading:

definition -- from Free Dictionary

In an Abusive Relationship? Help Yourself Today -- from the Uncommon Help website


Avoiding Victim Blaming -- from the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness

Am I Bad? Recovering from Abuse (New Horizons in Therapy) -- by  Heyward Bruce Ewart III

“Is this abuse?”: A Guide For Aces -- from The Ace Theist blog