Here lies the dilemma of anyone who has been psychologically abused. When we pointed out what was not normal, we were told that we were wrong. When we got upset about not being believed, we were told we were overreacting. When we told the truth, we were told we were making it all up. When we tried to reason, we were told we were the unstable ones. Many of us were willing to be wrong if it meant keeping the peace, but, unfortunately, we were right all along.
Some of us were children, and therefore even less likely to escape the gaslighting and manipulation our abusers applied to keep the status quo. Some of us grew up extremely confused in spite of our own impeccable integrity. Our abusers, always and purposefully a step ahead of us, went to our friends and family and whispered things in their ears to discredit us. Because we were so used to having our words twisted and our intentions misinterpreted, we expected to be misunderstood. Because it was often easier to absorb the blame than correct it, we often shouldered the misplaced guilt and responsibility for being treated this way.
There is no sense of justice in being right. There is no victory. Being right about abuse means having to fully face just how deep-rooted and insidious it really was. Some of us believe our abuser’s lies that “it wasn’t that bad,” because it is so much harder to accept the painful reality that it really was.
Some of us have escaped the cycle of abuse, and some of us haven’t. For those who have, there is always more work ahead. We now have to deprogram and reprogram every thought, memory, experience, and belief about ourselves and our abusers. Most of it is embedded in our subconscious minds and old traumas are stuck in our physical bodies. It is wholly exhausting and often all-consuming work. We are left to clean up the mess our abusers made, our own existence packed to the brim with all the misplaced guilt and blame that ought to reside elsewhere. In sorting through the mess, we have to examine each piece to identify what’s truly ours, and what’s truly worth keeping.
There are some days where it might seem easier to believe the lie that we were wrong, but we know we’ve come too far to deceive ourselves ever again. But there is hope. For one, we are not alone. There are many of us, and together, we can affirm the truth that had been denied us so long.