Having grown up in an abusive family and now in a relationship with an abusive person, Bailey believed the lame excuses constantly dished out to her. Beaten down, confused, hazy, and exhausted, she sought out help from a therapist. At first, she could not comprehend that she was the victim of abuse. She thought abuse was only physical but then learned it could also be verbal, emotional, mental, sexual, spiritual, and financial.
One of the steps in healing from the abuse was to not accept the excuses her abusers used to justify their behavior. So she made a list, evaluated each individually, changed her perspective, and refused to absorb the tossed responsibly. Here is her list.
- “I’m sorry but…” Any apology that ends with “but” is not a real apology. Rather it is an attempt to pass the blame onto the other person while not fully accepting responsibility. A true apology is expressed with remorse and doesn’t point the finger.
- “It’s all your fault…” Blame shifting is a common tactic abusive people use to deflect their behavior. By pointing out some minor infraction done by the other person, they justify their abusiveness.
- “You are so much like…” This statement is typically followed by the name of a person that either the abuser or the abused despises. The idea is that by saying the victim is acting similar to a distasteful person, the abuser is absolved for their behavior.
- “You triggered me…” While the statement could be truthful, using past trauma as vindication for future abuse is not acceptable. Victims who want to heal, use their triggers to identify potential negative reactions so they can get better, not so they can continue to harm others.
- “You make me so angry…” Here’s a thought, “Why do you want to be around someone who makes you angry?” No one can “make” another person angry, at some point the choice to emote is a decision. But if someone is constantly antagonistic, why be with them?
- “If you treated me with more respect…” Respect is earned over time, it cannot be commanded instantly. People who demand respect often don’t deserve it. Respect should be given in the same measure it is received.
- “If you didn’t react that way…” This is another form of blame-shifting where the victim’s responses are used to acquit the abuser. Most victims find that even when they modify their reactions, the abuser still does the same thing.
- “Because you don’t listen to me, I had to…” Instead of trying to find calmer ways of addressing an issue, the abuser uses this as an opportunity to escalate. There are any number of reasons why a person might not be listening and trying to force the matter does not make things better.
- “If you hadn’t done…” This is another combination of shifting the blame by highlighting a flaw in the other person. The underlying manipulation is to impose a parent/child-like relationship where the abuser is the authoritarian and the victim is needing correction.
- “Your words hurt me so…” There is an old saying, “Hurt people hurt people”. But even if a person is hurt by a statement, they are still responsible for how they react afterward. Being hurt is not an excuse.
- “My whole family is this way…” By assigning blame to their family of origin, the abuser minimizes their actions as collective behavior. Because everyone in the family does in, then it is OK to continue abusing.
- “It’s in the blood…” Instead of using abusive behavior as a means for deciding to change, the abuser says it’s part of their personality or someone in their family is the same way. This allows the abuser to escape responsibility.
- “You won’t take me seriously so I had to…” Abusers are generally dichotomous thinkers; things are either one extreme way or another. There is no middle ground. So when the victim minimizes a statement, they are forced to overreact instead of finding an alternative solution.
- “You brought this on yourself…” This is another version of blame-shifting with an added twist of fortune-telling responsibility. By saying the victim should have predicted the abuse and avoided the subject, once again, the abuser is absolving themselves.
- “You know what sets me off…” Everyone can be set off by something. Anger is a normal and healthy response during grieving when a person feels violated or taken advantage of, or even when someone they love is being harmed. Abusers, however, use anger to abuse.
- “If you weren’t such a *#@^%…” Name-calling is abusive behavior by itself. It demoralizes a person while elevating the abuser to superior status. Using it instead of apologizing widens the gap further.
- “You’re just being sensitive…” For the record, being sensitive is a gift, not a curse. This statement takes the positive traits of the victim and turns it into a negative. It is a reflection of an abuser not valuing their victim.
This exercise helped Bailey to set new boundaries with her family and leave her current abusive relationship. These lame excuses are just that: lame. They are not coming from a place of honesty, love, care, or concern for the other person.