Why doesn't the victim leave the abuser?
In my last post, I didn't address the often asked question, "Why doesn't she leave him?"
People usually ask it in the context of a wife not leaving her abusive husband, but it could be the other way around. Or it could be a person not cutting off ties with an abusive family or a family that serves as a proxy for a narcissist within it. Whatever - why doesn't the victim leave?
Every victim asks him- or her-self the same question! Truth is stranger than fiction, but here is the controlling fact of the matter: That's what normal people do when subjected to abuse.
In other words, people who say "Why doesn't she leave him?" wouldn't leave him themselves if they were in her shoes.
Well, that isn't exactly right. People do vary in how much abuse it takes to get them to leave. That is, some will leave sooner than others. But they all take far more abuse than anyone would think a human being could. Why? It's counter intuitive.
The well documented Stockholm syndrome partly explains why. But making the victim cling to the victimizer is an ancient art. It's the art of the Inquisitor and the torturer. A black art that works like magic. The Inquisition and KGB had it down to an fine art form.
The crucial point is that this is what NORMAL people do. The abuser creates an upside-down world in which all normal human reactions work backwards.
Denial is the chief culprit.
How long? how much abuse does it take to make you face facts and see that he or she is just evil - this person you love with all your heart ... is evil. An unthinkable thought, no?
AND he or she loves you back about as much as you love a cockroach. Has just been playing you for a fool. Another unthinkable thought, no?
Yet in the cases I know about, the victim always does eventually face facts and leave. None came into the relationship "seeking" abuse either. In fact, that is so contrary to the Law of Nature that I won't believe anybody does THAT till I see it.
The victim hates the abuse and tries to avoid it. The problem is that narcissists are deliberately impossible people, so the only way to avoid narcissistic abuse is to avoid the narcissist himself = get away from him.
Look at the situation you've got. Love is an attraction. You love this person with all your heart - an irresistible attraction to him or her. But he or she emits a blast of antigravity in the abuse they respond to your love with. An irresistible repulsion from him or her.
Something's gotta give in this bizarre situation. Sooner or later the victim realizes that it will be her mind if she doesn't come out of denial and face facts.
Here she is on her knees before her abuser, clinging to him for dear life in the naive belief that she can exorcise the demon inside him. The more violently he rejects her, the tighter she clings. Something's gotta give.
I myself have asked "Why doesn't she leave him?" about a neighbor. I understood all this very well already and had him pegged as a narcissist, but still I asked the question. It seemed to me that she was being exceedingly dense.
But she wasn't really. (She only lasted a year or two.)
All victims deservedly do suffer guilt and shame for eating lies and putting up with abuse longer than we should, especially if it was in a marriage (rather than a birth family) and there were children affected.
But that guilt isn't guilt for the abuse. To share in the guilt for abuse, you would have to be a CAUSE of it. And just being within range of it isn't causing it. One might as well blame a murdered bank teller for taking a job at a bank.
The victim's guilt is a failure of integrity. A failure to protect, a failure to have a backbone, a failure to be honest with ourselves and KNOW THE TRUTH.
But it's absurd to view that guilt as partly JUSTIFYING what the abuser did. Nor does it TEMPT the abuser. Just being there doesn't TEMPT anyone to abuse you. Loving someone doesn't TEMPT them to kick you around. Being vulnerable and defenseless doesn't TEMPT them to eviscerate you.
Yes, you should have run away. But the victim's failure to doesn't take one whittle of the guilt and blame FOR THE ABUSE off the victimizer and place it on the victim.
As it is often said, though a woman walks down the street naked, no man has the right to rape her. And in that case, she is tempting the abuser.
But I have never seen a victim of a narcissist tempt their abuser. In fact, it's quite the other way around.
Whenever I find myself asking "Why doesn't she leave him?" I withhold judgement. I do this on the basis of the concept of competence to judge. It's a judicial concept that holds true in personal judgement. I am just not competent to judge her for that, because I don't know the whole story. What's more, there are sometimes compelling practical reasons for why she cannot leave him and just draws battle lines within the household to keep him at bay.
We know enough only when the victim is ourselves, and then we are not competent either, because we will be either too easy on ourselves or too hard on ourselves.
But one thing is for certain: THAT guilt, is for a different sin. It doesn't matter that she hasn't run away from him. Her being there is no CAUSE of a predator attacking her.
The abuse is 100% the abuser's sin. He is 100% guilty of it and deserves 100% of the blame.
Ironic, isn't it? Blame is the only thing narcissists share.
See also Why Do You Put Up With Abuse on the main website.
narcissistic personality disorder narcissism