It Ain’t Victim Blaming When I Choose To Be The Victim

I’m gonna share with you a video that was really, really hard for me to watch when I first found it.

It isn’t the most dramatically narrated video; far from it. But its message was a bombshell.

I was not just the victim.

I’d heard that before. By people who loved me, and I fought with them over it. My abuser’s [1] behavior wasn’t my fault – that was the gaslighting argument she used on me! I didn’t listen to them.

Maybe it was the slow cadence of the narrator. Maybe it was disbelief at the title card. Maybe it was because I wanted to prove it wrong. I was the victim, dammit!

So I watched the video.

Then, with growing horror, I realized the truth.

Yes. I had been a victim.

But even after I was no longer forced to be a victim, I kept choosing to be.

In my case – and in the worst cases – it’s children that are used as the lever. Some “crisis” would happen, and suddenly I was needed, because otherwise my child might suffer somehow.

The crisises varied in intensity. I’m sure that some times they were real. And I’m sure that some times they were exaggerated, or completely made up. Problems with the house, homework issues, making sure he got proper healthcare. Anything could be twisted so that his welfare seemed to be at stake. She weaseled her way into my family’s functions because it might “upset him” if she wasn’t there. She guilted me into not telling him the truth about what she’d done to me – and him! – because it would hurt him and make him hate himself.

This video helped me later – far too much later – realize the truth:

First, that none of these crisises required me. They were all things that everyone has to deal with on thier own. The “crisis” would not actually hurt my son. They were threats of what my abuser would allow to happen to my son.

My abuser was threatening the welfare of my son to blackmail me into doing what the abuser wanted.

I sort of knew that part already.

What I (somehow) didn’t realize was that I allowed it to happen.

I had a choice, every time my abuser claimed my son would suffer some harm if I did nothing.

Over and over again, I chose the abuser.

If a situation had arisen that was truly life-threatening through my inaction (not being able to pay the bills, for example), then that isn’t about me. That shows that the abuser is not fit to be a parent. In the situations that were not life-threatening, I was not needed to “save” or “fix” anything. That also shows the abuser’s inability to be an effective parent.

Instead, my choices showed my willingness to have the abuser in my life. To let the abuser continue to dictate when I had time for my own life. To cast a pall over the relationships I had as I recovered, making them wonder how long I’d keep jumping at my abuser’s call.

When I called out my abuser – by explicitly saying I’d do whatever they told me to so I could see my son – that was when it stopped. I guess I was lucky that way.

It’s a hard line to walk in yourself – knowing the difference between being the victim and allowing yourself to be the victim.

It can be both.

But I had a choice. To continue being a victim – or to choose something different.

We all have an obligation to ourselves first.
We have an obligation to put the oxygen mask on our own face first.
We have an obligation to consciously decide how to spend our time and energy.
We have an obligation to enforce our own boundaries.
Featured Photo by Ashley Jurius on Unsplash

[1] See my artistic license policy if you think I’m talking about you. I can tell you now that I’m not just talking about one person’s actions toward me and I’m talking about events more than 7 years ago.

Also, I’m using the term abuser because I can’t know their motivations for certain, but I definitely know their actions toward me.

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