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Terms we Need to Stop Saying

The Harmful Phrases that Keep Being Said

Of all the platforms or soapboxes I’ve stood on over the decades of working in this field, victim blaming is by far the most important to me as an educator, therapist, coach, or as a human being walking alongside other human beings who are abused. 

A victim of abuse has an autobiography of responses to what has been perpetrated upon her. She’s attempted multiple types of therapy, read countless books and wept incalculable tears because of what she experienced. 

What helps the most is having words to help her describe her experience best. This is not to suggest that as helping professionals – we tell the client what the experience is – but we help support what they already know with language they can choose to use that is a good fit for them. 

We are each different in our stories, but we all need the right words – strong words – that represent the depth and breadth of what we’ve experienced.

Language Representation and Targeted Partner Abuse©

The struggle with accurate language representation around violence and abuse against women. The research has been in place for decades that those perpetrate abuse do so with deliberation. Abuse is a behavior of choice. It is not due to alcohol use, drug use, mental health or any emotional mismanagement. 

However, because these behavioral choices reflect attitudes of a major portion of the human population, a social script has developed as a counter to the behavior to prevent the perpetrator from being seen as responsible for the harm caused.

All of this has resulted in a misrepresentation of the truth, whitewashing of facts, and an almost total reversal of fault – thus we have an abundance of victim-blaming scripts also contributing to the abuse of women by men.

“Misrepresentation leads to distancing from the facts which results in a distorted view of what people are truly experiencing as a result of targeted partner abuse©”

Perpetrators abuse they do not commit trauma (Wade, 2018). Our language needs to be about the actions of those who abuse. Language should never be about the experience or the way the victim thinks or feels about what happened to her. When we talk about trauma, we replace the perpetrator’s crime with the victim’s response. This is a huge problem that leads to behavioral concealment and victim blaming.


Until we view targeted partner abuse© as a social problem, the reports of women will continue to be discounted and the responsibility for these social crimes committed against women will continue to be socially constructed as something men cannot understand or control. When we focus on distorting the stories of the women as an approach to changing the behavior of the abusers, we are attempting to enact solutions that have never worked. We do not use this method of behavior assessment when we look at the actions of a store clerk under threat by a thief. In those circumstances, all reasonable actions taken to defend himself and protect his store are understood as appropriate under the circumstances. The store clerk would never be said to be bonded to the thief or a reactive thief as much of what happened was beyond his control. There is no assignment of mutualizing language.

“Mutualizing an action where the genesis is at the hand of one agent human against the will and well-being of the other human changes the severity as well as the cause. This is victim-blaming or blame-shifting” (Coach Joi).

Victim-Blaming Terms

Let’s start with the worst one of them all – codependency. 

The genesis of this term comes from what Center for Peace© refers to as “The Industrial Carnes-Complex.” His work is very closely tied to the founder of the AA movement and his companion program for wives of alcoholic men, who this founder referred to as “co-dependents/co-addicts” – which are egregious victim-blaming term and very inappropriate for the actual language definitions of a wife’s response to these horrific behaviors. 

Carnes patterned his SA program after his friend/founder of AA. See a problem here?

The reference to co-dependency or the sharing of a behavior is inappropriate from the jumpstart. A wife married to a man who consumes alcohol, or any other substance, or engages in any other socially inappropriate behavior is not a co-partner with the perpetrator of the behavior. These actions are the sole choice of the one engaging in the acts. A wife does not share responsibility for his choices and as such should not be mutually responsible for acts outside of her control and often her knowledge. 

This made-up reference, along with any of the companion terms (i.e. co-addict, love-addict [and even sex-addict]) should all be considered as mutualizing blame-shifting terms meant to conceal the actual responsible party. 

*If you are aware of the more recent term, “prodependency” consider this one just as flagrantly absurd and patently false as its predecessor. 

Trauma Bond/Trauma-bonded

The actual definition of this term refers to a connection made by individuals or victims who share the same experience. In this situation, all parties must be at a lateral or mutual power-level. No one has an advantage over the others. This term would apply to victims of a plane crash, shooting, robbery, fire, etc. Though experiences may vary by individual, they all have the common cause as a shared event. 

*This term is inappropriate for a perpetrator-victim event where one causes the other to experience harm. 


As I shared in a previous social media post and in a paragraph above, an individual’s response to an act of abuse or violence does not mutualize responsibility for the initial act of the perpetrator. In every social/human interaction – someone starts it! Full-stop!

When your parents or the teacher on the playground asks the question, “who started it?” It is a valid and appropriate question. All human interaction has an inceptor, or initiator. The responder is the second half of the interaction. As such, the second half of the interaction is always a response to, or in other words – self-defense!

Abuse-Magnet and Other Statements Regarding Victims Who Don’t Leave

If you have read books, quotes or heard therapists or others say that we attract abusers – please, please burn those books, walk away from those quotes or individuals as quickly as you can. 

Only in the mental health or legal arenas will we hear such deplorable narratives as attraction or magnets to abusive individuals. Of all the victim-blaming narratives that can be assigned to innocent – this must be the worst sort because way too many women believe this and take this on due to the multiple relationships with abusive men these women encounter.

No matter how many abusive men you have been involved with – **You do not attract them! 

Women are not attracted to abuse and violence. We know this and the men who hurt, abuse and are violent towards women also know this. This is the #1 reason you are treated so favorably in the beginning. The covert attraction and entrapment phase involves a great deal of interest, connection and care to the degree that the victim may believe the perpetrator’s tactics to be real and genuine. These men engage in very stealth tactics to ensure you are not able to see through the deception. These men know what they are doing. The victim is the one with the disadvantage when his love, attention or kindness does not register as deceit.

Language Matters

Our safety comes through correct and accurate representation of language. The fact that so many erroneous and patently false terms exist in this population is evidence that there is an agenda to protect the perpetrators, tamper with the minds of those who are exposed to this debauchery and inhumane acts and reassign blame to those impacted by the violence and harm of individuals in a more powerful position than the victim. 

It is unfortunate that though there are many speaking out against abuse by men against women, too many of these individuals have consumed the faulty content and will cause further harm to the victims by promoting language, reasons for or diagnoses for agentic decisions of one individual against the will and well-being of another.

Do you need clarity?

If you have been harmed by the blame-shifting narratives of your abusive husband, his therapist or yours, or the legal help you have attempted to secure – please come to Center for Peace, where we work to correct abuse, protect victims and restore the dignity taken by the perpetrated abuse against you.

If you are the abuser, please consider joining us in September for a life-changing, year-long program to correct the wrongs you’ve committed and realign you to prosocial/pro-human ways of thinking and living.

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