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Blame it on the Trauma

Have you ever heard your husband say he just needs to be patient until you get past the trauma? 

What about all of the magnanimous gestures he makes to “help you heal” as though he’s been given some rescuer assignment to get you past the trauma?

I ask these questions in all seriousness (though I am hitting my palm against my forehead as I write this).

The Great Cover-up

In too many cases statements of this nature have nothing to do with the abuser’s care and regard for his partner’s well-being and more about his level of discomfort or interest in hiding from what it takes to own and correct behavior and lies.

Abusive men operate under the false (and abusive) position that the forms of abuse inflicted on their partner are excusable. The domestic abuse literature addresses the behavior of this population as a common pattern. 

The ultimate objective is to deflect responsibility and shift blame to the victim – the ultimate abuse – commit egregious and repeated harm on another human against her will and well-being and then create stories in their head or with their collusive supporters.

Hurry up and Get Over it Already!

If you are doing something you know is wrong, you’ll do anything to get out of the trouble of being discovered. Including, but not limited to blame-shifting, shame accusations, gaslighting, lying, covering up, etc. The list goes on. 

All of these techniques are meant to reduce the abuser’s discomfort with the reality that his behavior has caused another human being – one he says he loves – incredible pain. Pain that she is likely expressing over and over in disbelief that she’s been so egregiously betrayed.

Trauma is Not a Disease or Disorder

Trauma is a response to an external, overwhelming threat where external coping skills are challenged and resources potentially limited. 

The important language here is trauma is a response – a reaction within the body at the point of access of information. Unfortunately, this can happen repeatedly as information might come in sporadically and with insufficient detail to make sense of or to determine a factual basis.  

The type of trauma women experience by the deceptive and illicit behavior by an intimate partner is referred to as emotional trauma. This type of trauma is unexpected in type and one for which the victim is unprepared. It is not the event, but the experiential coded by the one experiencing the trauma.

Coding – The Meaning We Make of an Experience and the Words Used to Describe the Event

Whether you use the term betrayal, adultery, infidelity or any other reference, the experience is excruciating. It is soul crushing. The pain is physical and emotional. Anyone betrayed by a partner knows that the pain the heart experiences is both real and incredibly distressful. It is often accompanied by complex trauma responses mis-named as a “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

PTSD, previously referred to as “shell-shock” has some of the initial origin from the psychological trauma (different than emotional trauma) experienced by individuals participating in war.

Victims of their spouse’s on-going sexual treason can re-experience the initial coding of the painful event as the experience is considered and evaluated in the sense-making process. This creates a neural pathway in the brain with specific language coding. Each time this pathway ignites, the pain coding will accompany the thought. This process can continue until the memory is filed away in the hippocampus.

Complex Emotional Wound Memory Codes©

To honor each woman’s experience, it is important to understand that we may all code the wounds experienced at the hands of an intimate partner in various ways. The complex coding can be re-experienced as we process the pain. Often these are referred to as triggers. At Center for Peace we refer to these situations as emotional wound memories. The codes are the words used to describe the repeating experience. Just as physical wounds need tending, so do our emotional wounds. The process of emotional wound care happens in conversation about the injury. Speaking the experience over and over until the mind is settled and the pathway re-coded with safe references.

The Intersection of Victim Care and Abuser Correction

Which brings us to the point brought forward at the beginning of the blog. When silence (for the abuser) meets conversations with validation and affirmation (for the victim) we are at a conflict.

The victim is deserving of the truth of any and all information to help her make sense of the experience. The perpetrator, on the other hand, wants to conceal the truth. 

The practice of blame-shifting or guilt-tripping has been a part of human behavior for decades. The problem, when it is executed in the population of targeted partner abuse©, and perpetuated in SA communities, counseling sessions or other forums where this thinking error is used to conceal the responsibility of the perpetrator – it results in a detrimental psychological paradigm that prevents correcting the abuse or vindicating the victim.

Caring for the Wounded Mind and Heart

An abuser  will not, cannot, help you heal. He can create a space for the wounded victim to be safe. An abuser will not find any alleviated emotional distress within himself without correcting the incongruence within his heart and mind by the repeated lies and blame for his actions to another. Villainizing his partner will never exonerate him.

It is the belief you have that will make both the offender and victim whole. You either believe truth sets you free, or you create stories in your mind and then pour every cognition into that story. It is the abusive perpetrator that should feel ashamed of the behaviors, and even more so for the truth altering tactics that cause another human being to feel the potential guilt for a behavior she did not commit.

And to all the women – trauma isn’t permanent. The mind is an amazing gift within our human physiology. We can find the emotional and psychological peace we need to move forward with emotional and psychological wound care.

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