Survivors of Therapeutic Abuse Who Become Abusers
If the problem of therapeutic abuse is not fully understood or is covered up by the various therapeutic professions, what chance does a survivor have who has been abused by another survivor? Where do they turn to for help?
First of all, I think it is important to define abuse. Therapeutic abuse is love or sex by appointment - that is the biggest control factor that an abuser has over a victim. Their needs and their needs alone are met in this way.
Remove the time or appointment factor and you more or less have a conventional relationship. With one person seeing or speaking to another person when they can and when they want to. Yes, there may be a certain amount of secrecy involved, but most relationships start off like this and evolve into something more honest and open.
When it comes to a relationship between survivors, trust is the most important factor. Trust levels are that much higher. A survivor will never believe that they could be hurt by another survivor - they know that the person they care for or love has been treated so badly that they could not hurt someone who has been treated the same way.
And yet they do. The reasons for this are varied. Like abusive Therapists, abusive survivors, are either opportunistic lashing out at a survivor who is down. Putting a survivor in his or her place. Or sadistic, a planner who can spend months or years abusing another survivor with all kinds of mind games. One of the most common reasons for abuse seems to be resentment. Seeing someone go from being very down and then slowly put their life back together again can result in all sorts of negative feelings being projected towards a survivor. Disempowerment - knocking the survivor back by cutting back or removing support can have a devastating effect. Like therapists, a survivor who is abusive will often reach for a label to justify their actions - usually along the lines of the person becoming "overdependent" or too "needy".
Another big problem is when one survivor becomes jealous of a relationship between two other survivors. This can be a close working relationship or a romantic relationship.
Either way, with survivors being very insecure, it does not take much effort to cause a tremendous amount of trouble. Usually, the troublemaker will go out of their way to plead their innocence to the person they want to be close to, while turning totally against the other person. All to prove their loyalty to first person and often claiming to others that they are trying to resolve a situation.
More manipulative still is the survivor who will say anything to control another survivor. Including making promises that they have no intention of keeping. Or stringing or leading another survivor along with a love interest. The reasoning behind this is a great need to be loved. Being loved by a great deal of people does not provide that special feeling of being loved by one person.
From time to time the abusive survivor will test the other survivor by picking arguments and if someone else is around, that survivor will be dropped in favour of someone new. That new person could be a new survivor, or someone very vulnerable. A person who is very easy to control. If it isn't, it probably means that the survivor no longer sees himself or herself as a Survivor - and without the moral base of a survivor - will abuse. Justification of this will be centred on feelings that they have done enough. They have risen above it all and become superior.
The question of who to trust then comes into play. A survivor feeling the deep pain of being abused by another survivor will often turn to a professional for help. Just as in therapeutic abuse, professionals do not understand the issues. People who are continually changing their minds about everything often deride issues like consistency or trust. It is good to have an open mind, but to be continually changing your mind is inconsistency - which is abusive. And leaves survivors or anyone who is vulnerable in a more stressed out state than they started off in. This sort of person can make a bad situation a lot worse.
So a survivor will turn back to other survivors for help. The effect on other survivors within a group to all of the above behaviours is as complicated as the abuse itself. Some will be outraged that a survivor can abuse another survivor. Others will be indifferent, especially if they have no great interest in either of the people concerned. Another group will feel the pain of this kind of emotional abuse very deeply and will back away.
Possible solutions to survivors abusing survivors revolve around the truth. A survivor who is further victimised does NOT want to hear gossip or second hand explanations for the abuse. The only person with the explanation is the abuser - and they must be totally honest. They have no right to expect support from other survivors until that happens. They should NOT under any circumstances still be giving support. Perhaps they should seek professional help; the only problem is that leaves them open to abuse themselves, which is something I would not wish on anyone.
This article is dedicated to those survivors who do understand the pain of survivor abuse, and who have given their time to help a survivor recover from its terrible effects.
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