Archive for July 5th, 2010

I am reading a great novel called A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White. A passage from this book made me think about my recounting of my experiences with S & L, my most sadistic abusers. In this passage, Julia is writing about her “evil stepmother” Peggy, who was emotionally abusive:

… Peggy, who shall from here on be known as my mortal enemy. (Ah, but I can just hear my favorite writing teacher tsk-tsking now. I must evoke sympathy for poor Peggy! I must make her real for the reader, and therefore lift her out of the one-dimensional role I have cast her in as “the villain.” I must give you reasons for understanding why she came to be the way that she is. Well. I will have to receive an F in character development. I have nothing nice to say about my stepmother.) pp. 188-189

I feel the same way about S & L. That is not to say that they were not three-dimensional, only that I did not see other sides of them. Even when they were not being cruel, their actions came across as staged. I felt no warmth from them, and I saw no redeeming qualities.

I would guess that they both suffered as children, too. I suspect they were both raised in families that practiced ritual abuse and that they knew great pain as children. Whether or not this is true, they showed me none of this vulnerability. By the time they entered my life, they treated me like an object to be used and abused to meet their sick desires, not as a child who just wanted to be loved.

Like Julia in the novel, I am unable to see any other side to these people. In my eyes, they are monsters and not people. Unfortunately, there is a huge downside to seeing an abuser as a one-dimensional monster. This actually makes the abuser seem more daunting. It is a much scarier idea to take on a monster than it is to take on a flawed human being.

The truth is that all human beings are flawed and have weaknesses. Our abusers are no exceptions. As helpless children, we frequently only saw one side of our abusers, and we might have taken away that they were all-powerful monsters. We need to reach a place of removing our misperception of our abusers having “godlike” powers and reduce them to what they really were – pathetic flawed human beings. Flawed human beings are much easier to beat.

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