While battered women are not responsible for their abuse, certain behaviors can signal the vulnerability of victims to potential abusers. Among these are verbal cues.
This is not meant to imply that victims ask to be abused. There are, however, patterns of speech which can alert abusers before a relationship is ever established that the women with such verbal tendencies are likely to settle for what others would not tolerate.
And the cycle of abuse resumes with a new partner.
Abuse victims will routinely demean themselves, constantly using phrases like “How stupid of me” or “I’m such an idiot”  . They will often speak in a low voice or halting manner, swallowing their words or the tail-end of their sentences.
Victims will hesitate to offer an opinion; withdraw or undermine the few opinions they do express; and describe themselves as unqualified to comment, when this is clearly untrue.
Abuse victims will frequently apologize, even for events outside their control. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” The words are repeated in an endless refrain…sorry the train is late, sorry the traffic is snarled, sorry the taxes are due, sorry the weather has changed, sorry the sun has set.
After a lifetime of abuse, victims may find it difficult to make choices based on their own preferences. After all, chocolate ice cream is as good as vanilla, isn’t it? Continue reading
Do a search on variations of the title to this piece, and you will be directed to instructions on how to breach the defenses of various video games, and a few posts on breach of contract. Those are not what concern abuse survivors.
Oh, our defenses were most definitely breached. Whatever meager defenses we had as children – whatever protests we made or attempted to make or wanted to make but were too confused and frightened or too young to make – were ignored and overridden as if our bodies, our souls, were the property of someone else.
That is, in fact, how our voices were silenced. Protest was so clearly useless, what would have been the point?
But breach is one of those wounds that keep on giving. Years later, we may tolerate the unexpected groping by an older boy at the beach, the fumblings of a middle-aged optician in a darkened exam room, and despise ourselves for it, when the fault is not ours. Was never ours.
Boundaries are meant to protect us. When they have been violated physically, sexually or emotionally, we become vulnerable to further violation.
This is not an indictment against us, not a sign of weakness on our part. The fact that wounds leave scars is simply proof that we are human. And we were, after all, children. We never had a real choice; were forced to submit to violation of the most profound kind. Continue reading