It’s Narcissist Friday!   

Is it okay to blame the abuser?

Christians who are abused are often hit with a triple whammy. We were raised to feel guilty for almost anything that happens in life. Abusers regularly make their victims feel like the abuse is the victim’s fault. But then the church comes along to tell the victim that their emotions and pain are somehow their own fault.

You may remember times when you were told not to blame someone else. You rode the bus to school and the bully took your homework and threw it out the window. You got in trouble for not handing in your homework. But when you tried to explain to the teacher or your parents, you were told not to blame someone else for your problems. You shouldn’t have sat by the bully, or you shouldn’t have put your homework where he could get it. Somehow, it was your fault. Eventually, you got the message. You began to look for your fault in every negative that came into your life.

Even as adults, we are often told that we are in charge of our feelings, that no one can make us feel anything unless we give that person permission. So, even if it is clear that the abuser did something wrong, the victim is still supposed to “handle things.” You know what I mean. We have the motivational people who tell us that blaming someone else for our troubles will hold us back, that we have to own the negative that comes into our lives. Get out of the blame game, they say.

Abusers know that some people are particularly susceptible to shaming. They do whatever they do, then they convince you it was your own fault. If you had listened better, you would have understood. If you had worked harder, you would not have lost your clients to your narcissist co-worker. If you hadn’t shown your willingness, he would not have abused you. The abuser gets off the hook by putting you on it.

Usually, when we talk about the church shaming the victim, we refer to those uncaring people who try to convince the rape or abuse victims that they wore the wrong clothes or were rebellious in some way. There are those who think that anything bad that happens to us is somehow our own fault. I just read a post where a pastor said that the victims of the Paris massacre were responsible for what happened to them because of the kind of concert they were attending. In other words, those who attend heavy metal concerts with occult connections should expect to be killed by terrorists. What nonsense!

I believe the heart does not do well with dishonesty. If I try to blame myself for what someone else did to me, I will become dysfunctional. I have no way to deal with what happened unless I acknowledge the truth. There is nothing wrong with blaming the narcissist for what the narcissist has done. That may simply be stating the truth. Your heart will find more peace when you can say that your narcissist did the deed he/she did.

Let me say it plainly: blame the offender. If someone abused you, blame that person. If someone ignored your cries for help, blame them for what they did. I realize that sounds wrong in many ways, but all I am saying is to tell the truth. You cannot move forward with a lie, even a lie to yourself.

I have talked about the military phrase, “Embrace the suck,” before. It means bad things happen, even to you. Now acknowledge the fact and use it to move forward. Pain, grief, loss, disrespect, abuse—these things happen. If someone is responsible, let them be responsible. But the negative is now part of your story. Use it to make something good happen. Instead of sitting around crying about what was done to you, get up and do something with your life. Use your anger to do well in school or business. Use your sadness to have compassion for others. Use your pain to remind you to value the good things you have.

At the same time, own the solution. You are not responsible for what happened to you, but you are responsible for what happens now. Don’t live your days waiting for the abuser to make things right. It isn’t going to happen. Abusers rarely acknowledge their own sin. Even if they did, they still can’t undo what they did. Don’t expect others to make it right. They cannot take away your pain, nor most of your struggle. They can’t rebuild your life for you. You are the one who will have to move forward.

Don’t let blame be the end. I think blame can be the beginning. Once that is out of the way, you are free to decide what you are going to do about what happened.

Blame the offender – that’s honesty

Embrace the pain – that’s reality

Own the solution – that’s your future.

Along the way, trust in the Lord who loves you. He knows the truth. He said that truth was the way to freedom. He does not expect you to blame yourself for the bad things that are done to you by others. He does want good for your life. Let Him take you forward, to those new things He has waiting for you.


Filed under Narcissism

25 responses to “Blame

  1. Still Reforming

    With a pastor stating that about victims of the Paris terrorist attacks (I wonder if he thinks the cafe and restaurant victims are equally to blame because alcohol was served there?) – little wonder people don’t care to go to church.

    In fact, in my former church, I heard words stated to me (by the wife of an abusive man, no less), referring to my husband and behaviors I’d tell her about, “Oh, he’s just a bully.” And she’d dismiss it. As if “just a bully” was not a big deal.

    I felt very alone in that church – as much isolated by the women as by the men.

  2. Savedbygrace

    wow Dave I wish I could jump out of my computer and give you a big ((HUG)) this is a very empowering post THANK YOU!
    My life has become infinitely more messy, and painful since acknowledging the reality of abuse by my N husband. My children are upset with me as I have rocked the family boat and they are now having to re evaluate their relationships if they want to be authentic, and face some home truths- it’s challenging and sadly it is easier to blame the victim ( me!) in an attempt to ‘right the boat’ and get back to the status quo.
    Today’s post has encouraged me to stay firm, continue to place blame and accountability where it belongs, embrace the pain and keep moving on to a solution:)
    Trusting the Lord is my anchor in this storm..
    Blessings to you Pastor Dave.

    • Pam gable

      Amen Sista! I am right there with you. What a empowering post this was. It’s going to be copied and pasted on the front of my laptop. Taped to my fridge. Printed and tucked into my purse….very empowering!

  3. Cecelia K

    This sounds like truth to me, because it makes sense. It is sooo refreshing to hear! Thankfully, I had very supportive friends during my ordeal with my Narc, so pretty much all the blame I experienced would come from him. I couldn’t stand how even just starting a sentence with the word “When you…” would provoke a defensive “Oh, so it’s My fault!” reaction from him. I would be about to say “When you do such and such, it makes me feel such and such,” or something like that, but I could never even hardly get my thought out. I was supposed to take responsibility for how I felt, even if he was acting like a jerk.

    Now to be fair, I do recall a few times when he expressed hurt at something I said, and I may truly have responded, “Well, I can’t help how you feel,” but I think these were probably instances where I was merely expressing a boundary or something factual that he just didn’t like hearing, but there were not cruel intentions behind what I said. I had no malicious motivation. If I didn’t think I had reason to feel guilty, I was not going to allow him to make me feel that way. But if you’re intentionally being cruel, harsh, intimidating, gaslighting, or whatever, then yeah, you hold responsibility for the other person feeling scared, confused, angry, etc.

  4. Melody

    Appreciate this post.

  5. Celeste

    Speaking the truth is indeed empowering. It helped me through the divorce process and continued to make the difference, since. My mind has functioned for decades in confusion and it is the simple practice of restating a confusing statement with truth that has helped my brain to think more clearly.

  6. healingInHim

    What a timely article … just today, a senior-aged woman used her syrupy- voice to ask “how I was?” … and when I AGAIN was truthful with her she said , “Aw, that is so bad because BOTH of you are such nice people.”
    I stared at her in disbelief as she has been well aware of ‘my’ circumstances but chose to act naïve and relate to the abuser as being ‘nice’.!!
    I reminded her that ‘the abuser’ had threatened to kick me out of the house a couple of years ago … she then patted me and said “Well, good thing you have remained and still have a roof over your head.”
    Excuse me for expressing how very painful this was. She has done this to me each time I meet up with her, thus I try to avoid her. It’s sickening … yeah a roof over my head with someone who is waiting for me to leave. 😦

    • UnForsaken

      healingInHim, my heart goes out to you as I’ve have weird experiences close to this. It is actually abuse too, even if she doesn’t realize it. People who act this way seem to be trying to manipulate and get inside our heads. They are also disbelieving, the last thing we need in friends. They wan’t to ‘fix’ us into their own point of view, as if their way is the only way. This Should be painful, because it discounts our value and autonomy. She will probably only use whatever information she gets to justify what she thinks, further judge and spread gossip, so your avoiding her is probably the safest and wisest thing to do!

      Your last statement is Exactly what I’m going though right now. He has never threatened me in that way , but I believe it’s because up to now he feels he is paying for the ‘privilege’ to control, and his need for money hasn’t quite taken over – yet. That horrible pat and telling you you have it good is outrageous! It’s saying you are undeserving and to keep in your place. This kind of belief perpetuates abuse. God puts the roofs over our heads because they are All His to provide, and not because we are or aren’t deserving! It is God we have to thank, God we have to turn to, and not least of all right now, God we have to hand all our evil surroundings and probable fears.

      Keep safe and prepare for all outcomes, but most of all leave this with God. When there is nothing I can do, continuously repeating a need in prayer can become worry. He knows all of this and His Spirit even knows what we cannot put into words. We tend to feel if we just pray harder He will do something, but in actuality prayer is an act of worship that is intended to bring us closer in our trust to Him. He knows our needs already. He sees when His sparrows fall.

      This Thanksgiving I’m trying to thank God alone, not the greedy Ns who want it all. He has blessed us with insight to see these things, and He has guided us and will continue to do so. When we are in greatest need He will give us other roofs over our heads. He will give us wings like eagles. He has given us His unending love, and He will strengthen and keep us. ❤

      Bless you, Sister!

      • UnForsaken — Thank you so much for your very kind exhortation. I am discovering myself not wanting to not venture and be out with others much as so often many don’t really care and just view my circumstances as a “difficult marriage” …
        Many counselors view it differently. ‘He’ may be a quiet man but counselors have also told me that those are also the most unpredictable.
        I can’t say much more for fear of ‘him’ or other family members and friends identifying me. Even family has forsaken me because of Christ’s name. But that’s okay. Like you said, ” ….leave this with God. When there is nothing I can do, continuously repeating a need in prayer can become worry. He knows all of this and His Spirit even knows what we cannot put into words.”
        God bless you and others. The so-called ‘festive’ Christmas season is very difficult – I just want to be alone to heal but have had to make commitments to taking college courses and helping an elderly person in case it should help with further income. I’m reaching the “elderly” age mark, too!

      • UnForsaken

        healinginhim, yes, people do not usually understand. Although my N is my dad and not full blown in his behavior, I feel I’m just waiting for the day. This holiday season I’ve been on pins and needles because of my really big unexpected needs (money always gets them ), and he’s been an ‘angel’. Waiting for the shoe to drop. Can’t believe in his blank expression. As he continues to indulge himself, I’ll get a super dose of blame for everything at some point.

        I wouldn’t call mine quiet, rather I am – perhaps to a much needed slight advantage. It makes me fairly content when I can’t go out, although I still have a healthy craving for human companionship and goodwill. I would say his method of diverting someone away from what he’s really doing is a lot like the quiet person’s tactics though, but it’s done through talk. Totally hiding his motivations is pretty simple when we are lost in a sea of his confusion, no matter how it’s created. Unpredictable could be his middle name! I know that fear of discovery well…. and yet, and yet God truly is in control. It’s His grace that helps us to live bravely, or I’m not sure I’d get up in the morning!

        Having been with my grandparents at the end of their lives and very empathetic towards their caregiver, I know what you mean about feeling elderly. My health really made me feel like it, and I’ve been constantly reproached because when they were my age you weren’t “supposed to be that way”. Most of my friends have left me or have past away. I found myself in a stage of looking back that resembled the lovely seniors who touched my life, and having troubles seeing anything worthwhile to talk about with my own generation. This made me think hard about the whole concept of age, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s our souls that should stay young. Hey there, it’s only our bodies that get elderly – some of us before we’re old – but we’ve got treasure laid up in heaven that won’t get old or stolen and as our spirits rejoice in the Lord He will renew them, giving them new life! Outside of space and time, what do mortal years matter?!

        When you mention wanting time alone and your full plate of preparations, I’m impressed. I’m constantly Wishing I was in your place! I have had time alone and know I will never get enough of it, but I do want to prepare for the future. So my cross is to wait for that right now, although I’m trying to thank Him for it and leave those elusive plans for Whatever to Him. He has a unique way of ‘trying’ each of us. Eventually He may give me More than I could dream of by way of granting the desires of my heart. 😉

        The ‘festivities’ are hair raising enough without an already tight schedule. If you are already flagging – like myself – you might consider getting a saliva cortisol test when things calm down. Burnout happens so fast and cortisol affects all our hormones, thyroid, mood, digestion, basic energy levels, you name it. When the adrenals aren’t happy, nothings happy. If we’re constantly fatigued/stressed and looking for help to get through the next day, doctors tend to slap us on antidepressants. Even if I needed them ( yes, some of us do ), adrenal issues are so common that I was glad to do this test first! It’s worth considering because it’s so easily treated and such a game changer when it comes to quality of life!

        I’m sorry your holiday isn’t looking bright. I’m not sure any of us can count on that. One of my favorite things to hope for is the After-Season. After cleanup, after seeing horrible psychopathic relations, after the gullible loved one has avoided unseen catastrophe, after Everything…that’s when I try to take a few moments/days for my own celebration and worship, remembering the Reason for the season. That calendar has a “play date” schedule on it for them, but we can still have candle lit baths! 🙂

        Take care, Sweetheart! ❤

  7. Onward

    Pastor Dave, thank you for such an excellent post always and particularly today! The N who is my ex was guilty of spousal abuse. As I navigated the legal system seeking relief and justice, I was amazed at the bias against and blame of the victim that persists. When I first began to navigate the divorce process, the Holy Spirit whispered to me Romans 8:1, There is therefore now no condemnation…and I had to hold on to that scripture as a life raft as I navigated the waters. By the grace of God, I have been delivered from my abuser legally, physically, and financially. Unlawfully he continues to contact me anonymously to express threats and vulgar expressions. This post is a reminder that I need to address the issues of the unbelievable discrimination (blame) which I experienced by various parties in the legal system, including my own attorney. My inclination is to say “Whew!” and simply move on. However, I realize that unless I stand up and confront this situation, I don’t have the right to expect change or a better experience for the next person/ victim. Mine is a voice of one but is powerful when joined with others. I get that domestic violence is complicated and an ugly stain and stigma in our society that most people don’t understand and don’t like to deal with however one thing for sure is that it will not correct itself. It will persist as long as mankind is on the earth and at some point, society must learn to effectively and realistically deal with the issue and part of changing the cultural bias is to first address the natural tendency of blaming the victim. It only empowers the abuser. I may have been a victim but I do not have a victim’s mentality which makes me a danger to the status quo and for that I do not apologize. If I sound angry, please know that my anger is one of righteous indignation born out of a hatred for the acts of bullies and for the love of the family unit which domestic violence ultimately destroys.

  8. Viv

    Blame & shame is all I get from our narc/Jezebel “religious” leader. This blog is helping me to heal.. Thankyou!

  9. Emily

    Thank you for this post. The following resonates with where I’m at right now: “I believe that the heart does not do well with dishonesty. If I try to blame myself for what someone else did to me, I will become dysfunctional.”

    I’m wading through years of narccistic abuse at the hands of my mother. She continually attacked and violated my person. She fed on my feelings, thoughts, appearance and experiences. I did not believe that my existence was my own. I’m grateful to be working with an understanding therapist and a recovery group, as I need support to feel my way through these experiences.
    My recovery stalls when I shut down my internal cries and focus on my own sin. The internal dialogue goes something like this, ‘I need to get past this. Recovery is about my stuff, not what was done to me.’
    But freedom and grace come with acknowledging and sharing (with safe people) what happened to me. My mood will lift for a bit. Patience and compassion appear and gratitude for the moment sets in for a bit.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • Bruised Reed

      Hi Emily, greetings from another recovering ACON! I’m glad to hear that you are working through (and undoing) much of the “yuck” that was piled on you by your family. I , too, am learning to acknowledge things for what they were and are, as painful as it can be at times. But the most important thing has been to learn the truth, and once I have it, to cling to it for dear life! N’s are masters of deception, and will do just about anything to keep their victims in a brainwashed state. God bless you as you continue to seek healing from the past!

      • Emily

        Thank you BruisedReed for your encouragement. We really aren’t alone. Blessings, strength and comfort to you at this moment in your journey.

  10. Hi Pastor Dave,

    Thank you very much for writing this. It really made me feel better. I was away from my narc for two years now and yet I still am crawling my way back from all the damages and traumas I had. My narc ex said sorry through facebook when he was breaking up with me then but the apology wasn’t genuine because he implied in his message that he I provoked him, that he had to play white with me (like a chess game) and that it was my fault. When I tried to lay out all the abuse I experienced from him, he supplied me with a biblical scripture, the one about the log of wood in thy neighbor’s eye. Something like that. I can’t recall the exact scripture. But the bottomline is he was trying to turn the table against me and make me feel bad about calling hin out. I lost a lot of my close friends because a lot of them judged me and shamed me. Whenever I seek out support and tell them what I’ve been through, they’d dismiss me and tell me that it’s my fault, that I acquiesce. But how can I possibly know when I was manipulated that time? With all the pity plays, the silent treatment, passive aggressions, and isolation? I didn’t know about narcissists the way I knew of them now. Back then I only conceivedbof narcissists as someone extremely vain but I was inordinately wrong. So wrong. Narcissists are soul murderers. Thank you for writing this. Now I know where to put all the poison he has transferred to me…the shame, the guilt, the self-loathing. I actually despised myself for a very looong time thinking it was all my fault I got abused. I am so horrible to myselfm punishing myself for an abuse I didn’t ask for. Thank you, pastor. Thank you for telling me this. The narc’s words are really intrusive they’re in ny head, in ny subconscious affecting everything in my life. Thank you.

  11. Pam gable

    Thank you for this post. I read it in the nick of time and I don’t believe that was a coincidence. I do believe I was guided to read it.

  12. Annette

    Very good post!

    “I just read a post where a pastor said that the victims of the Paris massacre were responsible for what happened to them because of the kind of concert they were attending.”

    Did this pastor belong to the (Word of) Faith Movement a.k.a. Health and Wealth Gospel by any chance? Because this would fit in well with their line of thinking. They teach that you are in full control of every aspect of your destiny. If you are beset by a misfortune, it is your own fault because you either did not have enough faith or you were sinning. The sin is easily identified here: The victims attended an occult concert. Thus they brought their deaths onto themselves.

    WOF theology (or rather heresy, IMO) is extremely narcissistic. God is degraded to a servant who has to do your bidding. In my experience, narcissists that are exposed to this type of teaching become entirely unbearable, i.e., narcissists on steroids.

    But of course the statement you quoted could also be due to (non-WOF) legalism.

    “Even as adults, we are often told that we are in charge of our feelings, that no one can make us feel anything unless we give that person permission.”

    Also sounds like narcissistic thinking to me. They vastly overestimate people’s power. Talking about omnipotent people here: My narcissistic mother likes to tell me it is all my fault when other people behave badly because I did not manipulate them properly.

  13. I am so thankful for Pastor Dave’s posts on narcissistic abuse!!

    One thing that particularly stood out to me in this post is this:

    “Don’t live your days waiting for the abuser to make things right. It isn’t going to happen. Abusers rarely acknowledge their own sin. Even if they did, they still can’t undo what they did.”

    Oddly enough, I read that same idea, stated in different words, in a book I was reading this afternoon. I realized then that this is what I have been doing for the past 50+ years — waiting for my abusive, lying, scapegoating, gaslighting mother to admit her sins, apologize, and tell all the people she’s lied to about me, the truth. My mother is in her 80s now. It isn’t going to happen, is it?

    • Annette

      No. At least it is highly unlikely. Fortunately, after studying narcissism for many years, I have meanwhile given up that hope. Narcissists get worse with age, not better.

      In my case, all her equally narcissistic siblings support her against me. A narcissistic family is a self-reinforcing pathological system.

      • “A narcissistic family is a self-reinforcing pathological system.” — so true! A narcissistic family forms emotional bonds over bashing the scapegoat!

        I read on a blog post recently (on Lucky Otter’s blog) that leaving a narcissistic family is like leaving an abusive religious cult.

        You know what, it really is!!

      • UnForsaken

        I’ll have to look up the Lucky Otter’s blog, Linda Lee! I just finished reading the articles on cultish families at Quivering Daughters. Your comments came at the perfect time!

        Although I only have one immediate N in my life, there are many others on the fringes. Almost all the people I mutually know have personality disorders to cope, and their influences are so far reaching that I feel surrounded by unreality. You could not be more right, Annette!

        Wishing Everyone a very happy – or at least decent – Thanksgiving Day! We are all survivors and Will live another day to talk about it! 😉

  14. Annette

    Another point that stood out to me:

    “You rode the bus to school and the bully took your homework and threw it out the window. You got in trouble for not handing in your homework. But when you tried to explain to the teacher or your parents, you were told not to blame someone else for your problems. … Somehow, it was your fault.“

    Rom. 2:1 says: „Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” They tell you not to blame others for what they did to you; however, they blame you for things you didn’t even do. It’s all part of the narcissistic power game. If they succeed in getting you to blame yourself for everything under the sun, you won’t rebel against their control of you or question their motives and notice their selfish and evil intentions. In other words, it is intended that the victims become dysfunctional. It’s narcissistic brainwashing. Of course, once you’ve become dysfunctional, they will blame you for that too!

    • I agree 100%, Annette.

      Hmm, I was writing a long response detailing my experience with being treated like this, when I wore myself out halfway through and deleted my story.

      I hope you have a nice day today. I intend to. 🙂

  15. Anon

    Great post, except that I disagree that people cannot “undo” the pain they cause us. That is what true repentance is about and it is extremely healing to the victim. While I realize narcissists will never truly repent in order to give us this healing, to say “others cannot take away our pain” is simply not true. Healthy, empathetic “others”–who hurt us but realize it, ask for forgiveness, and truly repent and work to fix things–can certainly take away much of our pain and help to rebuild our future. Narcs won’t, but empaths will. Just my 2 cents.

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