This post was written together with Marie Williams whose remarks are in italics. Marie blogs at Come Fly with Me, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com.
Sometimes it can seem that the world is against us. Wherever we turn, doors are shut to us. We can never catch a break; are never cut any slack; keep running into walls. We cannot find any support.
Sound familiar? Rejection rules the lives of abuse victims…or does it?
Certainly, rejection played a major role in our childhood. Let’s, however, turn that experience on its ear. Let’s instead ask ourselves the unthinkable, whether abuse victims are trained to seek out rejection.
Cruelty v. Kindness
“A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself” (Prov. 11: 17).
Treated cruelly in the past, abuse victims may tolerate cruelty from others, presuming it to be the norm or believing we deserve no better.
That is what we have experienced for much of our lives. In childhood, we don’t know any different. We cannot reason objectively because we do not have the mindset and the maturity to differentiate between good behaviour and bad behaviour from an abuser. We willingly accept the crumbs we are given because for us that is better than nothing at all.
But an older person may, also, settle for abusive behaviour. Once your will is broken, you lose your sense of self. Instead, you are continually looking for validation from your abuser. Abuse and rejection can be mistaken for approval by someone whose view has become skewed.
Victims long for kindness, but may mistake it for weakness.
Though searching for love and approval, abuse victims don’t really know what those look like. Being treated badly is what they have been conditioned to expect. Kindness to them is something they are not worthy of. Having for their formative years experienced abuse, that is what “feels right” to them.
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven…” (Eccl. 3: 1).
We miss the deadline for school applications; fail to supply the required documentation for scholarships. And are rejected.
We hand class papers in late, losing points despite having agonized over content. We take make-up exams, having missed the scheduled test date; and drop out, rather than risk receiving less than an outstanding grade .
We ask favors from acquaintances and strangers; recommendations from people we barely know. And are ignored or rebuffed.
We show up late for our driver’s test, then are upset at the DMV policy not to reschedule for another 30 days. Yet, we choose not to pursue litigation to enforce our rights, when legal representation is available and cost free .
I was the other way. Too eager to please. Too early for everything, and panicked if a few minutes late or even on time!
Chaotic Home Life
“Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind…” (Prov. 11: 29).
Often, these issues can stem from a chaotic home life. As children, we had far greater concerns than the due date of a paper. Perhaps a parent was chronically intoxicated, an “uncle” a little too interested in our development. Perhaps there was no food in the house, and another beating just a few hours away.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2: 13).
The thing is, missed deadlines – when they are overlooked – produce a terrific high. We are extraordinary, special, the exception to the rule. We have been forgiven, reprieved.
The foundation of love, acceptance and tolerance of behaviour that we deserved in childhood were not part of our experience. The small infractions that are part of all children’s behaviour were seen as bad and wicked by an abuser. We continue to go around and around in circles, short-circuiting and never fully realising that we are the wonderful, special and valuable people we really are.
With missed deadlines, we have found a way to manufacture kindness…until the next time. Unfortunately, repeating in adulthood the traumas we experienced as children does little, except inflict more damage.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid” (Ps. 56: 3-4).
Abuse victims tend to have what are mildly called “trust issues”. We keep others at arm’s length, in self-defense. Experience has taught us to be fearful. Perhaps outsiders will uncover our secrets. Worse still, perhaps they will cause us more pain.
I did not have any real boundaries: I did not know when to share really personal information or when to keep quiet.
But having kept others at a distance, we have nowhere to turn when support is badly needed.
“As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious…” (1 Peter 2: 4).
When abuse victims encounter rejection, we tend to personalize it. Hurt and angry, we suspect the rejection was justified by some defect on our part.
Yes, we blame ourselves for every bad thing that happens to us. Every situation is personalised and centered on us. If someone walks past us in the street and doesn’t acknowledge us, it is because we have brought it on ourselves. It could not possibly be that the other person, absorbed with their own thoughts, has just not seen us.
As children we are the centre of abuse. Abuse is thrown at us relentlessly, almost as if we are being stoned on a regular basis. We can only see that our part in rejection has got to be something that we have done wrong.
As adults, we are not able to tear ourselves away from those childhood experiences of rejection. It becomes difficult for us to think logically about situations that can be interpreted as rejection.
God knows what we endured. He suffered for us on the cross, and with us during the abuse. We are, after all, His precious children. Our value is grounded in Him.
That gives us a whole new perspective on rejection. When someone we approach with a request is unable or unwilling to comply, we are not worth any less. There may be hundreds of reasons for a rejection which have nothing to do with us at all.
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34: 18).
Our authentic self has been ravaged by abuse and it is only through healing that the parts can be examined, cleaned, united and allowed to move forward with the knowledge that we are whole, renewed and deserving of love just as we are.
It is only then that “rejection” can be viewed as something which is part and parcel of life, and is to be expected. Our response to rejection can then be adjusted to fit the situation .
God does not see us as useless or worthless. He does not see us as beyond repair. God’s love is capable not only of healing, but transforming us.
We do not have to miss any more deadlines, in an effort to get what we need.
 There can, of course, be multiple reasons for our behavior. Perfectionism (not uncommon with abuse victims) can, also, contribute to missed deadlines.
 The avoidance of conflict can be a factor in the failure to pursue litigation, for instance, for an auto accident. We don’t believe we deserve justice. Placing blame on the wrong person is an outcome of abuse. We see conflict as a version of abuse. With our faulty thinking, it is we who are to blame, not our opponents (just as we blamed ourselves for the abuse). We are the ones who have done something wrong. Conditioning again, rearing its ugly head! We do not even recognise that to pursue justice is to validate ourselves.
 None of this is to suggest that abuse victims want to be rejected.