Archive for September, 2012

The Insidious Power of Blame

Friday, September 7th, 2012

It often takes time for the partners of verbal abusers to realize that the abuser is the one with the problem. Most women who are verbally abused spend time focused inward, soul-searching, taking inventory, trying to identify their “sins,” trying to find out what they did wrong. Because they have been blamed for their pain, they look inside for solutions. With no place even to turn their anger, unless against themselves, they have nowhere to go and no one who would understand. So they believe the lie. “There must be something I can do.”

Looking back on their lives, survivors have wondered why they spent any time at all in the situations they were in. Was it just low self-esteem? I don’t think so. I believe that never knowing quite what was wrong because they were always being blamed did much more than erode their self-esteem. It so totally denied their experience and invalidated them that eventually there was nothing they felt they could know for certain, nothing on which to base action. Being blamed is one of the most common experiences of the partner of an abuser and may do more than any other abuse to disempower the partner….

Sadly, many women go through their lives in pain and confusion trying to find out what is wrong while their culture tells them “nothing is wrong.” Women who went to many sources looking for help were told to try harder, as if the abuse was their fault and their suffering the norm. For them the whole world was crazymaking.

Once a woman is aware of the ways she is blamed by her culture (“What did you do to provoke him?”), she finds it easier to look outside herself. In a verbally abusive relationship, this is essential. She must come to realize that the abuse has nothing to do with her. It is very difficult for anyone, including the partner of the abuser, to grasp that a person who seems to get along quite well in the world, as many verbal abusers do, could suddenly lash out unprovoked at his partner for no apparent reason. Yet this is exactly what happens.

— Patricia Evans, Verbal Abuse Survivors Speak Out, p. 77-78


Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

People’s stories are the most personal thing they have, and paying attention to those stories is just about the most important thing you can do for them.

— William Deresiewicz, A Jane Austen Education, p. 163


Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Letting a friend or family member experience the consequences of his or her actions is not an easy decision to make. But it’s the right decision. If we try to lighten their consequences or assume them ourselves, we are interfering with the growth our companion is scheduled to experience. If we could only think of it in that way, we’d be better able to let go. We are scheduled for certain experiences as we journey along this path, every one of us.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 80

The Scandal of the Particular

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Jesus had no trouble with the exceptions, whether they were prostitutes, drunkards, Samaritans, lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors, or wayward sheep. He ate with outsiders regularly, to the chagrin of the church stalwarts, who always love their version of order over any compassion toward the exceptions. Just the existence of a single mentally challenged or mentally ill person should make us change any of our theories about the necessity of correct thinking as the definition of “salvation.” . . .

Jesus did not seem to teach that one size fits all, but instead that his God adjusts to the vagaries and failures of the moment. This ability to adjust to human disorder and failure is named God’s providence or compassion. Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to have with us. Just the Biblical notion of absolute forgiveness, once experienced, should be enough to make us trust and seek and love God.

But we humans have a hard time with the specific, the concrete, the individual, the anecdotal story, which hardly ever fits the universal mold. So we pretend. Maybe that is why we like and need humor, which invariably reveals these inconsistencies. In Franciscan thinking, this specific, individual, concrete thing is always God’s work and God’s continuing choice, precisely in its uniqueness, not in its uniformity. Duns Scotus called it “thisness.” Christians believe that “incarnation” showed itself in one unique specific person, Jesus. It becomes his pattern too, as he leaves the ninety-nine for the one lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14). Some theologians have called this divine pattern of incarnation “the scandal of the particular.” Our mind, it seems, is more pleased with universals: never-broken, always-applicable rules and patterns that allow us to predict and control things. This is good for science, but lousy for religion.

— Richard Rohr, Falling Upward, p. 56-57

Wiser and Stronger Each Day

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

As you choose your path and how you will use your time in the present, you are actively creating an increasingly more satisfying future. You are also dissolving the imprint and impact of any verbal abuse you’ve heard. Any negative definition of who you are by anyone in any time or place has no meaning or reality. While you may have been the target, like a drive-by shooting, the comments were not your fault.

You are infinitely more deserving of love and care than any negative comments would say. They are simply little synapses that flew out of someone’s mind. They are less meaningful than the chirping of a bird. Knowing this you are wiser and stronger each day. Knowing this you can choose to do what is best and right for your highest self this week and in the weeks to come.

— Patricia Evans, Victory Over Verbal Abuse, p. 176

Civility, Dignity, and Respect

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

Each of us has a different story. Not everyone needs to leave her partner. We don’t want to abandon people who need help. Your answer might not be to get out — only you know what’s right in your situation. And my purpose isn’t to demonize people who are abusive. They’re wounded and hurting in their own way. But please hear this: until someone is healthy enough to treat you with civility, dignity, and respect, that person isn’t healthy enough to be in your life.

— Christi Paul, Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt, p. 255