Healing From Complex Trauma & PTSD/CPTSD

A journey to healing from complex trauma.


Victim Shaming Throughout Society Is More Abuse ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

stop victim shaming

 

Throughout my work as an advocate and writer about abuse and trauma, it has become very clear and very concerning to me, as to the depths of victim shaming and victim blaming I see throughout society.

Just the simple and widely used phrase ‘don’t be a victim’ – is victim shaming and those with insight will understand why.

“There is no more shame in being a victim of abuse,

as there is a victim of any other crime.”

~ Lilly Hope Lucario

I have become an ‘anti-victim shaming warrior’ as a result of my life experiences, research and insight and I know the depths of harm it causes and how toxic it is. My aim is always to support survivors and to help them work out why different forms of abuse cause harm, with victim shaming being one of them.

Some will argue that victim shaming is not always meant with malice and I agree – but that doesn’t make it okay, or any less harmful and education is required to reduce it and support the victims/survivors.

This is a list of some of the types of victim shaming, victim blaming, shame shifting and psychological abuse I see as a result.


When Perpetrators Of The Abuse Are Family

There is a lot of shaming of abuse survivors, where the perpetrator is a family member, or collective dysfunctional/abusive family. Sayings like “but they’re family”, “she’s your mother, she did the best she could” and suggestions that family are exempt from being accountable for the abuse, are all ways survivors of abuse face being shamed for their needed emotions about being abused by family, and shamed for wanting healthy and needed boundaries from abusive family.

No-one has to tolerate ongoing abuse and harm – just because it’s from family members.

Survivors have a right to a full range of emotions about abusive family and every right to have safe boundaries to stop ongoing abuse.

“The amount of distance required away from

abusive family, is directly ‘relative’

to amount of harm they are choosing to

inflict and their unwillingness to stop”

~ Lilly Hope Lucario


About Forgiving Abusers

This is common one I see throughout society, and within the abuse survivor community. Society has been so brainwashed by religious and spiritual abuse and the belief that you must forgive your abuser in order to heal and in order to be a ‘good person’. Neither of these are correct. A survivor of abuse can make a personal choice about forgiveness, but it is not okay to project that onto others. Survivors can heal and move on from the abuse, without forgiving the abuser. Some survivors of abuse find it empowering to forgive and some find it empowering not to. It is not an act of aggression to close the door to the past abuse and not look back.

Some survivors of abuse decide after considerable contemplation and soul searching, that it is simply not their responsibility or burden to forgive an unrepentant and unremorseful abuser. That is an educated and insightful decision. Not forgiving does not mean you hold onto anger. It does not mean you are a ‘bad/unkind person’. And it certainly is not weakness, or an act of spite or a character flaw. I see considerable shaming about this issue – even from other survivors. I also see how forced forgiveness, premature forgiveness and forgiving non-remorseful abusers, can actually be damaging to the survivor’s healing and can also allow abuse to continue.

I am thankful to see mental health professionals taking a stand on this and expressing their concern about the shaming issue of forgiveness.

For more info see:

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/why-i-dont-use-the-word-forgiveness-in-trauma-therapy-0120164

https://evergreencounseling.com/why-you-dont-need-or-have-to-forgive-anyone-if-you-dont-want-or-feel-ready-to/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/when-forgiveness-isnt-a-v_b_8870524


Not Being ‘Compassionate Enough’ For Their Abusers

Often people want to jump straight to assuming an abuser must have reasons why they became abusive and this somehow leads to being an ‘excuse’. Yes, there are reasons that may have led to someone becoming an abusive person, but they are not excuses. Abuse is a choice and that needs to be very clearly understood. Someone’s trauma and abuse history, is not an excuse to abuse someone. Many survivors of abuse and trauma do not go on to become abusive themselves, and this is a choice anyone can make.

In suggesting that an abuse survivor is not ‘compassionate enough’ about the abuser’s possible reasons for being abusive, this is inappropriate and victim shaming. An abuse survivor does not ‘have’ to feel compassion for someone who caused terrible pain and suffering and to say otherwise, is psychological abuse.


When Abuse Victims React Back To The Abuser

This is a very clear issue I see occurring, where after ongoing and relentless abuse – the victim reacts backs to the perpetrator e.g. in anger, calls the abuser names, even hitting them back. This is not abuse – when it is a reaction to ongoing abuse and provocation. But, these actions are wrongly deemed by some to be abuse.

It is very unreasonable to assume a victim of ongoing abuse, should have perfect reactions and always remain calm. It is victim shaming to suggest that reactions that are out of the normal character for that victim’s behaviour, and only occurred due to ongoing and relentless abuse, are wrong. Even the most patient, loving, kind, empathic people can be pushed to react in ways they would never normally behave, under extreme provocation and after enduring ongoing abuse.

It’s also further psychological abuse when the abuser then claims to be ‘the victim’, due to these reactions to the abuse inflicted. This occurs very often with abusers and is part of their ongoing manipulation and gaslighting abuse.

It is very normal to be angry at being abused. It is healthy to feel anger at the injustices suffered and it is shows the victim loves themselves enough to be upset at the mistreatment and harm they have endured.

For more info see:

https://www.breakthesilencedv.org/reactive-abuse-what-it-is-and-why-abusers-rely-on-it/


Not Leaving An Abusive Relationship ‘Soon Enough’

There are many very valid reasons why abuse victims don’t leave abusive relationships quickly. To suggest the abuse is their ‘own fault’ because they didn’t leave, is victim shaming and abusive. To suggest they are ‘asking for it’ if they stay or go back, is victim blaming and abusive.

The focus should not be “why didn’t he/she leave?” – it should be “why didn’t the perpetrator stop abusing?”.

For further info see:

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We Need To Stop Shaming Severe Abuse Survivors, For Not Being ‘Strong Enough’ ~ Lilly Hope Lucario

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Throughout my work as an advocate for abuse survivors, I have seen a considerable amount of victim shaming, victim blaming and shame shifting. And I see the bigger picture of how much harm this causes.

Many abuse survivors are not ‘stronger’ after the abuse they have suffered. And for those who claim they are – that’s great, but it is very narcissistic to then look down on those who are struggling and mock, belittle and/or shame those who are deemed to not be ‘as strong’.

Many abuse survivors already feel considerable shame, due to the abuse they have suffered and when they are treated in this victim shaming way, that shame increases, and often leads to increased mental health issues, and can lead to suicide. When shamed for not being ‘strong enough’ – survivors can feel a burden, useless and weak. For those who have spiralled down to suicidal thoughts – this added shame can push them over the edge.

If you think about it – it doesn’t even make sense that every survivor of heinous, severe abuse – would be stronger as a result. Would anyone expect a person who has severe life impacting physical health issues, to be stronger? Of course not. Many abuse survivors have debilitating mental health issues, and many also endure physical health issues, which are life impacting and very difficult to manage. And that is not through any fault of the survivor, it is entirely the responsibility of the perpetrator(s) of the abuse.

It truly is a lack of empathy to insinuate any abuse survivor is ‘acting like a victim’ or ‘choosing to dwell in victimhood’ – when the fact is – no-one else knows the extent to which the abuse has affected the survivor. There are many factors that are beyond the survivors control, that affect coping and healing. And true empathy knows that.

Yet, I see these shaming terms perpetuated around social media and the internet. Far too many mental health professionals also choose to victim shame, and each one of those is blocked by me, as I will not tolerate it, condone it, or enable it.

As a highly insightful abuse survivor and therapist Pete Walker stated about complex trauma survivors….

For many such clients, we are their first legitimate shot at a safe and nurturing relationship. If we are not skilled enough to create the degree of safety they need to begin the long journey towards developing good enough trust, we may be their last.

Empathy is vital for severe abuse survivors, and shaming complex trauma survivors – creates considerable fear and a huge lack of safety. This causing the survivor to withdraw and possibly never reach out again for help. And the therapy offered, will require considerable effort to develop and maintain the degree of trust required for any therapeutic benefit. Shame should have no place in a complex trauma survivor’s therapy relationship.

See here for more info for therapists treating complex trauma. Continue reading