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The Recovery Expert
with Sharie Stines, Psy.D.

Lies Victims Tell Themselves When in an Abusive/Narcissistic Relationship

Victims of abuse stay in abusive relationships because their minds have convinced them of many justifiable reasons; these include:

  1. Fantasy thinking. This occurs when victims of abuse live in an altered reality, believing that they are in a loving relationship as they tell themselves that their loved one “has problems,” “doesn’t mean what he/she says,” “really loves me.” This is a form of rationalization, where the abuser’s abuse is explained away.
  2. Convincing themselves of a better tomorrow. This is also known as “future faking.” Many people associate future faking with manipulators. However, victims of abuse fake their own futures by telling themselves about how awesome things will be after “such and such” or “thus and so…” The point to realize is, they are not focusing on what is in the now. This is not living in reality, but rather, an unrealized, make-believe tomorrow.
  3. “The kids will suffer if I leave.” Many victims of abuse have convinced themselves that the children need their parents to stay together no matter how destructive their relationship is. They fail to realize that divorce is not the only thing damaging to children; toxic relationships also cause lasting harm to children.
  4. “He/she loves me; they just have a problem.” This is the lie victims of abuse believe because it’s hard to accept that the person they love doesn’t really love them back. Others reinforce this idea as well. “Even though he cusses at me and throws things, I know he really loves me deep down.” “Even though she flirts with other men, I know she always comes home to me.”Love is a verb. When someone loves you, he/she does not hurt you – at least as a matter of course. Unintentional hurts exist in most relationships. Abusive relationships have patterns of abuse. Believing someone loves you while simultaneously not caring about your feelings is a lie easily believed by victims of abuse.
  5. “I can handle it.” This is the story victims tell themselves to minimize the effects of being hurt by someone they love. If they convince themselves that they can handle it then they can stay in an unacceptable situation by making themselves believe it is acceptable. But, even if the person can handle a situation, should they? This is a form of self-delusion. Being able to tolerate a difficult situation does not mean one ought to.
  6. “He/she can’t help themselves.” This is the lie victims tell themselves by completely excusing any poor behavior their loved one demonstrates in the relationship. They have persuaded themselves to believe that the abusive person is not responsible for his/her poor behaviors.Abusers like their victims to believe this lie. Sometimes abusers blame their poor behavior on alcohol, mental illness, or stress. None of these are reasons for abuse, but victims choose to believe they are good reasons. This is so they can stay in the relationship because leaving is believed to be worse.
  7. “He/she can change.” How many times have I been asked by victims of abuse if I can help their loved one change if he/she goes to therapy? Too many to count. The answer is, “no.” The abuser will not change. The only person who can change is the person who wants change. And the person who wants change is usually not the abuser.
  8. “I can change this.” Victims either believe they are causing the abuse, so if they can figure out how to change themselves then the abuser will change as a result. Or, victims of abuse believe the abuser is at fault, but if the victim can figure out the formula, then he/she can change the abuser.One formula victims believe is the “He/she needs to be loved better,” This concept keeps victims convinced that they just need to hang in there until they get it right. One problem, if not the main problem with this type of thinking is that it causes victims to eliminate any negative consequences from the relationship, which further emboldens an abuser’s sense of entitlement to a fantasy partner, where he/she can do whatever he/she wants and there are no consequences to the abuser’s poor behavior.
  9. “The sacrifice is worth it.” Many victims of abuse sacrifice their own self worth for the sake of the other person and the relationship. In the end, the victim of abuse is not better off, but instead, has lost him/herself in the process. Believing that living with abuse is worth it is an idea to be challenged.
  10. Abuse Amnesia. While this isn’t necessarily a lie victims of abuse tell themselves, it’s more of an omission of what victims should be telling themselves. Abuse amnesia is the process of forgetting about any abusive interactions, and only remembering the “good times.” This is a form of idealization and dissociation. The relationship is idealized because the negative truth is not remembered, and the victim is dissociating him/herself from the pain of negative encounters with his/her loved one.

The truth:  Abusers are consciously aware of their choice to hurt their targets. The reason they abuse is not because they are helpless victims of their own actions. They abuse because they benefit from the behavior somehow. They might feel powerful, in control, a sense of satisfaction from hurting others, justified, vindictive, or some other nefarious emotion when they hurt their victims.

If you are in an abusive/narcissistic relationship and would like to heal, my advice for you is to challenge your own beliefs about your relationship. Try to think through your patterns and look at how you respond objectively. Make a commitment to living in truth and stop deluding yourself into staying with someone who is unkind to you. Know your worth and live accordingly.

 

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Reference:

The Little Shaman (Oct. 11, 2019). Narcissistic Relationships: “I Can Fix This” & Other Stories We Tell Ourselves. Retrieved from: https://hubpages.com/health/Narcissistic-Relationships-I-Can-Fix-This-Other-Stories-We-Tell-Ourselves

Lies Victims Tell Themselves When in an Abusive/Narcissistic Relationship


Sharie Stines, Psy.D

Sharie Stines, Psy.D. is a recovery expert specializing in personality disorders, complex trauma and helping people overcome damage caused to their lives by addictions, abuse, trauma and dysfunctional relationships. Sharie is a counselor at LIfeline Counseling & Education Inc., in Southern California (www.lifelinecounselingservices.org). Lifeline Counseling is a non-profit organization 501(c)(3) corporation. Sharie is also an abusive relationship recovery coach - therecoveryexpert.com

 


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APA Reference
Stines, S. (2019). Lies Victims Tell Themselves When in an Abusive/Narcissistic Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 9, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2019/11/lies-victims-tell-themselves-when-in-an-abusive-narcissistic-relationship/