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#479785 - 03/26/15 06:07 AM When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person?
lostc Offline

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 76
A large part of why I think I've found it hard to accept/understand my first period of abuse is because the abuser has always outwardly been so "good", like the last person anyone would ever suspect because nowadays especially they act like this totally innocent Christian "good girl" stereotype almost like a virtual "mother theresa". My psychologist says thats her way of trying to block out or forget about what she did by acting like this. It makes it very hard to understand that she abused me because she has otherwise always generally been kind and loving. I unfortunately have had to see her (my sibling) all the time until now too.

I wasn't sure whether to post this in the main forum or the female abuse forum, but it seems like a lot of people were abused by traditionally "good" figures like priests for example too. like I've talked a lot about with my psychologist it makes it so hard to blame her or accept that she abused me when i've always constantly been confronted by what a "good innocent person" she is. Its such a huge clash that this "good innocent person" abused me, which has always made me so unsure if it was abuse in the first place. but my psychologist is convinced and that it contributed to my PTSD etc. If anyone else has any input or advice it would be much appreciated.

#479805 - 03/26/15 09:02 PM Re: When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person? [Re: lostc]
focusedbody Offline

Registered: 02/03/13
Posts: 401
Loc: NY

Not only can an abuser be "outwardly" good, but they might also have some "good" qualities. They might be protective, paternal, and caring in some ways.

While this can be a stumbling block towards getting through what happened, it can also be helpful in seeing how human they were and had their own flaws and difficulties. Somehow I have found that part of the reality check helpful. It makes me realize that I was not so gullible as I thought.

And it helps me to get in touch with the vulnerable, human part of me too, the part that was drawn to them. When I do that, I feel much closer to what was abusive about it. I also see more clearly how to protect myself in the future, because I understand the perpetrator more.

Lose the drama; life is a poem.

#479824 - 03/27/15 11:03 AM Re: When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person? [Re: lostc]
lostc Offline

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 76
Thank you focusedbody, I find this hard to get my head around but I'll keep thinking about what you said, I think I'm starting to understand what you mean.

#479890 - 03/28/15 09:47 PM Re: When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person? [Re: lostc]
don64 Offline

Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 909
Loc: St. Croix, USVI
Hi Lostc,

It's taken me a very long time to get out of the blaming game, and I still process through lumps of blaming regularly. Blaming others and blaming myself obscures my ability to see reality and to learn.

Being human, for me, involves having good intentions without always having the ability to carry out those intentions. But, having good intentions does keep me pointed in the direction I want to go and seems to keep me growing. Specifically for me, it involves my parents having carried out horrific actions on me when I was an infant and young child, and living a life sufficiently shut down emotionally that I eventually severed all ties with them. They were unable to address abuse issues consciously with me, and maintained a position that not only did it not happen but that I was betraying them.

My parents do a lot of extremely good and healing things in the community, and spend a lot of time and energy doing all they can to help others.

The reality aspect of my abuse is not about saying someone else is bad or good, but being able to make a realistic assessment of whether of not any situation is part of being balance and harmony in my life or not. For me, the damage my parents sustained from their own journeys precluded me from continuing a connection with them--not because they are bad people, not because they don't have good intentions, but because their journey did not contribute to my own healing and in fact undermined it.

I'm doing my best to learn to simply see the truth without judging others, without needing them or myself to be deficient, but simply seeing them as human. I really like FB's notion of seeing the humanness and vulnerability in others, and learning to see and respect the humanness and vulnerability in my self.

Divine Law is not judgment or denial of self truths. Divine Law is honoring harmony that comes from a peaceful mind, an open heart, a true tongue, a light step, a forgiving nature, and a love of all living creatures. Jamie Sams & David Carson, Medicine Cards

#479959 - 03/30/15 06:38 AM Re: When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person? [Re: lostc]
lostc Offline

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 76
thanks for your detailed reply Don. I find it very hard to see someone who has abused as not bad, for me its like if they have abused then somehow the "good" things they have done is like a lie or not genuine. though I understand that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I am still quite confused about it all a lot of the time, maybe you and FB are a lot further down the path of coming to terms with the past i'm not sure. or could also have very different views generally. im not sure, everyone has their own way of seeing the world. I know i have a habit of getting into this all or nothing/black and white thinking sometimes, but I don't see it as something so hugely negative. maybe I'm totally confused I don't know.

I hope its not too personal to make this observation but like for me the horrible things your parents did to me mean that they are in that 'bad people' category for me permanently. but I understand that you see things differently as just consisting of bad or good. but for me its one thing or the other, if I truly admit/accept that these two people abused me, then it would feel like i'm excusing or forgiving them partly by saying things along the lines of "they are not specifically bad or good, just people." if you get what I mean.

#480110 - Today at 02:36 AM Re: When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person? [Re: lostc]
learning2remember Offline

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 295
Loc: Europe
This has been a question for me, too. My mother was a great person in many ways, and especially since she died people sometimes talk about her like she was a saint.

Because of her goodness, I had a really hard time admitting to myself that she abused me. I just couldn't believe it, even though I couldn't really deny it, either.

The same was somewhat true of my brother. It's not quite as hard to find his faults, but he does have some goodness in him. He also has some problems that could make you want to feel sorry for him.

I remember once I was talking to my T about my brother, listing good things about him, and she said, "I'm sure there are many good things you could say about your brother, but this isn't one of them."

I've always remembered that. She allowed me to say good things about him, but didn't accept that any of these things minimised the abuse.

For me the risk in all or nothing/black and white thinking is that I knew my abusers had some virtues, and even if I tried to forget those good characteristics, other people would be ready to remind me. So if things people are either all good or all bad, and if I am regularly reminded of these people's goodness, then it would make it harder to believe they had done bad to me.

If people are all good or bad, and I KNOW the goodness in someone, then they must not have abused me, right? WRONG

The other way around doesn't work well, either. If someone abused me, they must be all evil, right? Well, it doesn't look that way.

So if we try to eliminate the goodness we see in abusers, then it makes it much harder or even impossible to believe I was abused. Another risk is that, in terms of general awareness and prevention, kids might believe that the good coach/teacher/parent must be safe because he or she helps the communitc, etc. To simplify things that much leads us to avoid strangers in trench coats, but abusers are seldom like that.

So, I'm sorry, but the sad truth for me is that there are people with good features who abuse kids. Their goodness does not earn them forgiveness or lighter punishment or anything like that, but when they've done good, they've done good.

Let me qualify this, though: community involvment done with the aim of finding victims is not a good deed. As far as I know, my mother abused only me, and maybe my brothers. She was a teacher and a church volunteer, but I don't think she every touched any of those kids she helped. She also helped people with mental disabilities, visiting them at Christmas and bringing small gifts. All of this was good. If she had done it as a way to scout victims, it would not have been.

With my brother it's harder for me. But I know a lot of people like him and look up to him. He basically bullied me.

Sorry, I'm rambling.

For my own personal journey, I've just had to admit that abusers are capable of doing good things for others. Because if that can't happen, my abusers were not abusers. But it did happen. They abused me. Sometimes. They also played with me, fed me, helped me with homework, etc. But none of that cancels out that they abused me.
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

#480121 - Today at 07:49 AM Re: When the abuser has mostly been a "good" person? [Re: lostc]
lostc Offline

Registered: 08/12/14
Posts: 76
Thank you very much for your reply l2r, it helped a lot. what you said is true and maybe there's different ways of thinking about all this that I haven't considered or realized is possible. A lot of the ambivalence you mention feeling about your mother and brother is a lot or exactly like how I've been feeling regarding my sister. My therapist has said too how this is what makes it so hard for me because i'm constantly confronted with how "good" she is that it makes it very hard admitting or accepting what happened was abuse. You didn't ramble at all reading that really helped and I'm glad to have gotten your perspective on it. I guess this is why so many abuse victims get so confused or unsure about what happened was abuse, because often the abuser has done "good things" which makes them doubt if it was abuse and "that bad" etc. I suppose your last sentence/paragraph is what I need to think about. because until now I've had this kind of thought that if I admit that they did good things then its half excusing or forgiving them or something like that. thanks a lot.


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