Support not Shame
The other day I was scrolling Instagram and stopped at a post that was talking about why has our society normalized the encouragement of a victim to reconcile with their abuser. It stopped me in my tracks and it has made me do a lot of thinking. The page is focused on emotional and mental abuse so was geared towards victims of that type of abuse. One of the first things I thought of, besides how true this post was, was that you don't see victims of physical or sexual abuse being encouraged to reconcile with their abusers. So why do people basically shame the victims of emotional and mental abuse?
When the victim of such abuse finally gets up the courage to leave the relationship, the last thing they need is to be shamed for their strength. Physical wounds are often easy to see so victims typically get support and help quicker than victims of abuse that isn't as visible. Plus, the abusers that invoke emotional and mental abuse usually have a perfect public facade to discount their victim's abuse claims. Their facade is so believable that people often side with the abuser thus leaving the victim more alone with a lower sense of self worth and value. Then, the victim's closest friends and family shame them for not reconciling!
It's no wonder that healing from emotional and mental abuse is a traumatic path. The courage to leave is actually one of the smallest steps because society has the out of sight out of mind approach with supporting victims of abuse that they can not see. Victims often receive support from only a handful of people while being ostracized by many and shamed by others. Meanwhile, the abuser continues their fake perfect facade and actually plays the victim. They pretend the relationship ended because of something the actual victim did to them, often going to great lengths to prevent the abuser from being heard.
If you know someone in this situation, even if you don't know the depth of the abuse, stop encouraging them to reconcile and instead support them in their healing. Ask questions and learn the depth of what they endured. Be an advocate for them, especially if their abuser has created a smear campaign against them. Treat them the same way you would if they told you they were being physically or sexually abused. Extreme emotional and mental abuse is not just a disagreement or a spat. For many it has been a lifetime of manipulation, control, fear, degradation, and gaslighting. All while the abuser was seen by others as a wonderful person. The behavior of the abuser is intentional and calculated and those that believe the abuser are just being played as a fool by the abuser.
If you are looking for social media pages that support recovery from emotional and mental abuse, these are a few of my favorite on Instagram: