Mentality: Abuser vs. Survivor

(If life after abuse were actually a competition)

My abuser thinks he’s the responsible one, but I’m the one who’s done the genuine, invested parenting of our two kids.

My abuser believes he’s the selfless one, but I’m the one who has sacrificed everything: time, money, living space, sleep, splurges, etc., etc., etc.

My abuser considers himself a loving Christian, but I’m the one who accepts and affirms our LGBTQ child.

My abuser pretends I’m the desperate one, but he’s the one who started dating online while I was still in the marital home, then remarried (thus replacing his narcissistic supply) immediately, while I have prioritized my healing and my family and been single for a decade. (Full disclosure: I have dated off and on. Nothing stuck but the lessons.)

My abuser believes he’s the warm and charming one, but I’m the one with authentic relationships which aren’t based on lies and manipulation.

My abuser thinks smoke and mirrors are enough, but I’m the one who’s learned to see right through them to reality.

My abuser cares more about making people believe he’s a good person than he does about actually being a good person, while it’s crucial to me to be exactly who I say I am—and to make sure she’s a good person.

My abuser convinces everyone he lives a fulfilled life, when I’m the one who understands true joy, love, and stability.

My abuser flaunts the money he pretends to have, and wants people to know I have struggled with my finances and live in public housing, but I’m the one bouncing back from long-term and post-separation financial abuse, as well as the one who knows that money doesn’t actually matter in the grand scheme.

My abuser, through his arrogance and condescension, perceives me as hopeless, whereas I’m the one who knows that hope is exactly why I’ve come so far.

My abuser believes that I regret leaving him, and pine for the life we had together, when I’m the one who knows it was all a farce, and that I should have left even sooner.

My abuser, the one who thinks we’re locked in some perpetual competition with each other, does not know that I’m the real winner.

A note to any reader who may get this wrong: This post, despite my usage of the term, is not about my abuser. It’s about an abuser’s mentality—particularly an abuser with something like Narcissistic Personality Disorder—with examples offered for truth and transparency.

This post is about me. It’s about my story, my resilience, and my ability to make a life out of the broken pieces I never deserved.

My hope, dear reader, is that you relate to what I’ve shared here. That you can embrace a survivor’s mentality, and internalize that you are the winner in this life.

2 Comments on “Mentality: Abuser vs. Survivor

  1. I have lived and worked with people facing cancer for the past ten years, and when I hear someone say, “my cancer,” “his cancer” or “her cancer,” I try to reframe it to “the cancer in my ….” Cancer is an outside force that gets inside us, but claiming it as “mine” or personalizing it as a posession gives it a power it does not have. “I am not my cancer,” gives perspective. Likewise, “my abuser” gives power to the abuser. “The person who abused me” may be a bit cumbersome to say, but I think it is a more accurate descriptor.

    • I absolutely hear where you’re coming from, Madeline. It’s a powerful shift one must find to grow from victim mentality to survivor mentality. That said, usage of “my abuser” in this piece was intentional, so as to underscore the extremes between the power an abuser assumes he still has vs. our survivor’s reality. But also, many of my readers are still in the early throes of their journey. One who is legally forced to coparent with her abuser (overwhelmingly common) is still being abused. The other parent is still her abuser. To phrase it as past tense is helpful in the mental and emotional journey of healing, but does not validate the realness of a woman’s day-to-day experience, wholly and deeply affected by continued triggers and traumas with that other parent, until her children are grown and no longer touched by the laws of coparenting.

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