Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

3 Things Domestic Abuse Survivors Know That Victims Don’t

Domestic abuse survivors know what abuse is, are willing to change bad habits, and learn to react differently to abuse. Learn more at Verbal Abuse Journals.

Only Domestic Abuse Survivors Will Read This

Only domestic abuse survivors will read this post. If you’re an abuse victim, you’re somewhere else online researching what you can do about fixing your relationship or marriage, not searching for information about abuse.

You see, abuse victims don’t know they’re victims. Abuse victims don’t recognize abuse, so they don’t know what to search for. But once you know your partner abuses you, you’re no longer a victim. You’re a survivor. Only domestic abuse survivors will read this post.

Domestic Abuse Survivors Know These Three Things

So, what do we domestic abuse survivors know that an abuse victim doesn’t?

I am not the Problem

Domestic abuse survivors know they are not solely responsible for a horrible relationship. I don’t believe my abuser when he says, “This is all your fault!” I know that I can’t make my abuser feel or do anything (and if I could, I’d make him be nice).

As domestic abuse survivors we no longer look at ourselves to find ‘the problem’ because we know the problem is outside of us.

Now, survivors are not perfect. We have issues. We may be codependent. We could be acting out due to an undiagnosed mental illness caused by abuse (like depression, PTSD, or anxiety). We might have taken on bad habits that mimic the abuser’s behavior.

However, these are issues that we can correct. We want to change. We want to be better people. We don’t have to feel the way we felt during abusive episodes, and we don’t have to react to abuse in the same way. We can heal ourselves. We are not victims anymore.

I Control My Actions and Reactions

Abuse victims react to abuse but don’t see how their reactions feed the abuser. For example, when I was a victim I reacted to my husband’s abuse as he expected me to react. I reacted in his way to avoid more pain.

I knew when he expected me to fight, if he wanted to lecture me, or if he needed me to cry. So I did those things instead of acting like a sane person with her own mind. It was all about avoiding pain, not about being who I am. And that’s what the abuser wants–for us to not be who we are.

Not anymore. Now when I feel hurt, angry, or any other emotion, I ask myself “What do I want to do with this emotion? Is the urgency of this emotion worth acting in a way I’ll be embarrassed to admit to tomorrow?”

Asking myself those questions helps me stay in control of my emotion. It lets me sit with the emotion for a minute instead of reacting habitually or without self-control. Thinking about what I feel before reacting to it is what a survivor does.

I Don’t Need My Abuser for Me to Feel Happy

The abuser convinces the victim of abuse that we will never be happy without him, and we come to believe it. So, the victim tries to find happiness within the confines of the abusive relationship. The victim’s attempt to be happy includes standing up to the abuser, submitting to the abuser, and manipulating the abuser. But anytime trying to create happiness fails, the abuse victim views it as a failure on her part for not being enough of something. Not smart enough, not funny enough, not good enough.

As a domestic abuse survivor, I know that I can be happy on my own. My happiness does not depend on another person’s thoughts or emotions. I may want to be with another person, but I can be alone or on my own and still find joy.

What do you know as a domestic abuse survivor that you didn’t understand as a victim?

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Featured photo by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho

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