// Myth of the Day, 34//
Myth: I’m very strong, independent and intelligent and so would never fall victim to an abusive relationship.
Fact: Anyone can find themselves in an abusive and controlling relationship, no matter if you are male or female, intelligent or worldly, or strong and independent.
I would add that abusers are often highly intelligent and skilled manipulators who make it difficult for victims to recognize abusive behaviors in early stages of the relationship.
See also RAINN’s Three Stages of Acquaintance Rape:
- Intrusion- Attempt by the offender to violate the victim’s personal space and level of comfort. May draw close by revealing personal information or through “accidental” touches and stares.
- Desensitization- Occurs when the victim feels comfortable with the offender and has come to regard intrusive actions as no longer or, at least less, threatening. The victim of the desensitization may feel uneasy but convinces himself or herself that the feeling is unfounded.
- Isolation- The offender uses the victim’s trust to isolate him or her from others.
As it relates to the way abusers often desensitize their victims to/normalize their (abusive) behaviors gradually over a period of time. as well as the concept of gaslighting, which is a very common tacit employed by abusers expressly to make their victims question the reality of the abuse they’re experiencing.
Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
(more info on gaslighting here)
Basically- anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship, it is not the victim’s fault and it is not a reflection on the victim’s strength, intelligence, of character.
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