Please be aware this post does contain profanity and may trigger anxiety in abuse survivors. This is also mostly focused on emotional, verbal and psychological abuse.
It usually begins with an argument. Usually instigated by the abuser when trying to exert control over his victim. It can be sparked by the victim having a difference of opinion. The abuser will scold and shame the victim, how dare they not agree with them? It can be sparked by what should be a normal disagreement, a disagreement over parenting decisions, finances or topics of control such as who the victim talks to, where the victim goes…the victim could be targeted just for wanting space or alone time or the victim not fulfilling the abusers wishes. The abuser will then escalate these arguments. This is when the victim is sucked in to their psychological and sometimes physical torture. The victim will say they are done with this insanity and the abuse escalates even more. Unless they fully lie down to the control of the abuser, the abuser will not stop, that or when it escalates to the point where the victim is truly trying to leave or break away by staying with family or a friend and the abuser truly feels like they are losing the control over their victim, the abuser will suddenly “apologize.” They will put on a show, crying, asking for forgiveness, relaying their history and why they are the way they are in attempts to prey on their victims compassion and forgiveness. The victim then forgives and for a while the abuser will act “normal” even extra nice and accommodating to keep their victim in their grasps. If the victim doesn’t stay and does finally leave, the abuser will instantly revert back to his abusive rage and the feigned apology will be revoked. Leaving the abuser is the most dangerous time and the abuser will go to extreme measures to make their victim pay. This is the cycle of abuse.
Amidst these abusive episodes, the victim will often fight back. They will retaliate verbally, sometimes physically out of desperation to regain their independence and to defend their well being and sanity. Often times the victims will look “crazy” because they are going crazy. Who could act sane when they have a person treating them less than human because they are not satisfying the abusers need for control? If a stranger locked you in a room and refused to let you sleep, would you respond lovingly, kindly? Of course not. But this is how the abuser expects their victims to act. The second a victim retaliates they are suddenly the abuser. All of the abusers actions are made to be imagined by the victim and the abuser actually disregards their behavior entirely. They store away all the reactions to their abuse, which they do not address at all whatsoever, and use it to accuse their victim of abuse.
Here is a scenario explaining an instance of blame shifting by an abuser:
An argument erupts over the victim wanting to be alone in her room. The abuser keeps going back into the room and asking the victim what her problem is aggressively. She says she just wants space. This angers the abuser. He becomes demanding and tells her to talk to him. She doesn’t say anything. She can feel the familiar stomach ache of an impending rage from her partner approaching. He continues to harass her. She tells him to leave her alone. The abuser then rips the blankets off her and pulls her off the bed. The victim tries to leave the room. He follows her. The victim now tells him she is done with the relationship. The abuser is now enraged because his control is being threatened. She is tired of the fighting and tells him it is unhealthy. She tells him she doesn’t feel like she deserves the treatment and that she can find someone who would never yell at her or do those horrible things to her. The abuser follows her around the house and does not leave her alone, basically cornering her and forcing her to participate in the argument. The episode then may go something like this;
Abuser: “Fuck you bitch, how dare you compare me to other men and make me expendable.”
Victim: “You ARE expendable when you’re abusing me! The way you are acting is not ok! This is not normal. I should be able to have space.”
Abuser: “You don’t love me, you treat me like shit, you ignore me.”
Victim: “I should be able to have alone time! I was ignoring you because you were being hostile. I can’t stand you anymore, I’m done!”
Abuser: “You’re a stupid whore and I wish you would die. You are disgusting and deserve nothing.”
Victim: “I wish you would die! I hate you. Leave me alone!”
Abuser: “Why are you such a whore, you’re gross, you should just go be a stripper and suck dick.”
Victim: “Well why are you so fat? Just stop! Leave me alone!!”
Abuser: “Yeah I know you think I’m fat. You think I’m disgusting. You hate me and want me to die. I do everything for you and you don’t appreciate anything. You’re a user.”
While these arguments are occurring abusers will intimidate the victim with snarling facial expressions while getting in the victims face. They will put their hands on what could be a weapon such as heavy objects and sometimes even actual weapons. They will throw things, pick things up and break them and slam their fists into walls and furniture.
Everything the abuser did and said is non existent to them at this point. The abuser will now tell his victim and anyone who will listen that she abuses him by calling him fat and that she wishes he would die, even though he was clearly abusing her, saying horrible things first while she was reacting to the abuse out of desperation. He will also play the victim and try to obtain sympathy by telling people that she compares him to other men.
The things the victim said, which would normally be abusive had it not been out of defense, are out of character for her. The victim will often times react defensively, saying things they would never say if they weren’t being psychologically and emotionally tortured. The victim reacted this way not only because of the things the abuser was saying, but because the abuser actually traps the victim and forces her to participate in his act of rage.
An abuser says and does horrible things to control and exert power over his victim, the victim may say and do things seemingly mean and aggressive to an outsider listening to an abusers story, but it is out of character and solely out of defense towards the abuse.
This only barely scratches the surface of what abusers do to their victims. This is to raise awareness on abuse tactics and give just one example of the psychological torture abuse victims are subjected to.