Originally posted by EGL:
I still believe that a lot of what your boyfriend may be going through is struggling to like himself, let alone someone else. I know it seems like the ultimate oxymoron, that a victim hates themself more than their abuser, but I've lived it and I know many others have as well.
Eddie - I have discussed this phenomenon at length with my fiance - a SA survivor and me being a psychologivcal and verbal abuse survivor. I have mulled it over many times and didnt get it until far along in my recovery, and my fiance came to the same discovery a few years back too.
Our current theory (of course, totally unproven by psychologists/researchers) is that the self hate is indeed another "protective" mechanism that we set up in order to endure, psychologically, the abuse we are expeirenceing in a time in our lives when we are truly helpless. In my case, I had to believe that I truly was a shitty kid, that I really WAS the source of all my dad's problems, for me to acknowledge anything different and stand up for myself and say HEY DAD STOP TREATING ME LIKE CRAP would have risked me being thrown out OR abused WORSE and then where would I be? A six year old street kid? Would the abuse have escalated to physical abuse? Would my dad have indeed succeeded in taking his own life and left us destitute? I see the self hate that I learned as nothing more than yet another protective mechanism that allowed me to literally SURVIVE.
And that self hate gets etched in there so deep that it takes a long time to go "hey wait a minute!!! I"m the phucking VICTIM here and what that guy did to me was NOT OK!!!!!! That my dad would freak out and throw things at a little kid and scream at her and scare her half to death and try to kill himself and abandon her and her family at such a young age is NOT OK BEHAVIOUR BY ANY MEANS for a father and husband!!" ooh.. and then at some point.. in recovery the EXTERNAL rage starts.. once that acknowledgement is made the rage comes... its blinding and powerful and frightening and terrifying and every fiber in your body says DONT DO THIS DONT FEEL THIS ITS NOT SAFE!! But I think that this shift is THE MAJOR turning point in going from victim to survivor.
A lot of abuse recovery is addressing the fact that we (and I include myself because of my own psychological and verbal abuse history) learned to adapt to a very unsafe, unhealthy and scary place by using a variety of mechanisms (spacing out, depersonalization, split personalities, isolation, self-hate and shame, anger, fighting, alcohol and drug abuse, sex addiction) to literally SURVIVE a terrifying and dangerous situation.
And unfortunately, these are the life and relationship skills that we learn and bring to a world that is likely NOT as scary, not as painful and not as insane as the one we left. We as abuse survivors are ill-adapted and ill equipped to deal with a world where we need to form bonds, partnerships, to trust, to have faith and to have real joy in order to have successful lives, careers and relationships. Where the hell would we have learned those skills?? But I tell ya if we had to fend off attackers, keep people at bay, and find ways to keep oneself emotionally isolated to be successful, man we'd be the kings and queens of the world by now!!!! Perhaps if we were all in Jackie Chan movies eh??
So therapy teaches us that a) what happened to us was NOT OK AND NOT OUR FAULT and b) we need to go and learn a new way of looking at the world through cognitive therapy (to learn the world is not as scary as we might think) and our place in it (we have more control than we think over our lives) and we then have to learn a new way of acting (behavioural therapy) in order to have more successful outcomes in this not-so-scary-and-abusive place.
Hope this helps.