Is Sexual Abuse An Excuse to Be Abusive?

July 21, 2012

Recently, a survivor of sexual abuse reached out to me:

I stumbled across this because I was looking for answers.  I am worried that I might have BPD but thats not the worst part, the worst part is that I might be tearing apart my little family and pushing away the love of my life.

A little over 3 weeks ago, I was going through an emotional roller-coaster being a new young mom, and I was bumping heads with my mom a lot. I was thinking a lot about my old childhood and how she could have done things differently. Not only do I have memories of her holding me, crying, and tell me that there is no good people in the world, she was my abuser. Up until I was 16 I was afraid to sleep in the dark, so I slept with her. And when she would abuse me, I couldn’t move, or speak, I pretended to sleep.I told my best friend that I was sexually abused as a child, and she told me that it wasn’t my fault, and that I am the way I am because of what happened to me. She told me that it was wrong. I didn’t know it was wrong until I told somebody.

When the people that are supposed to nurture you and protect you break that bond, you will have major trust issues. You will have a lot of anger and rage.

Before I told my boyfriend about the abuse, I told him that his love for me will really be put to the test. (He surpassed the hormonal pregnancy 🙂 After I told him what had happened, I opened up a resourceful webpage that shows the long term effects of child sex abuse in adults. He loved me anyway, but I felt relieved. I was relieved to know I wasn’t the problem. There is a reason why I hated myself so much, had low self esteem and battled depression.

And when the healing began, I told him that things might get worse before they get better, but to NEVER FORGET that you and our baby is the only good things in my life, the best things in my life. But I have to do this for me, and I will understand if you leave, but I hope that you stay.

Of course as I started to face the reality of it all, and healing began I became a nasty, angry, and depressed. We are going through moving out of my mothers home and we are both really stressed out. I told him he should just leave. And that he was crazy for sticking around. I called him all sorts of nasty names and really mistreated him.

And this is where posting here comes in to play: If your BPD girlfriend/wife is anything like me, she probably feels horrible for the way shes been treating you. But it is much easier to just tell you to leave, and go away because that is what we expect. We didn’t get that unconditional love growing up.

And yes, my boyfriend is my hero. And I am a damsel in distress and I do truly love my boyfriend. I fell for the guy who makes me laugh so hard, Understands me so well and really challenges my intellect. BPD woman are really smart, maybe not all book smart (i hate math) but we are smart enough to survive what happened to us, keep moving, and living day by day. And these are all NORMAL attractive qualities one looks for in a partner. And every girl with or without BPD wants a man who will love them for exactly who they are.

What I am trying to say is, I don’t think it’s fair to say that we are using the past trauma as an excuse to be cruel. But it is what we know, and have always known. And I don’t think that because we depend on you, yell at you, and make you feel like shit… that it means we don’t love you. Because we do. I am head over heels. But I just can’t understand why you’d love me, but this is all from the child sex abuse. There are a lot of  self-hate thoughts within women with BPD. Its not about you or my boyfriend at all. But you guys are responsible for allowing us to feel so comfortable around you and for loving us so much. It does allow us to act out. And I am so sorry for the pain that I’ve caused, and the mean things I’ve said.

It definitely takes a strong man with patience, kindness and a great amount of loyalty to with stand your girlfriend with BPD.

I just hope that my boyfriend doesn’t forget the girl he fell in love with. I can’t help him remember right now, because I can hardly remember what we were like. This healing has taken up all of me. But I’m doing it for all of us, for our baby, for him. So that the future will bring true happiness.

I don’t really know where I am going with all of this. I guess I just want to speak on behalf of the survivors, but keep in mind, I only landed here because I was worried about my boyfriend and this is effecting him.

I stuck a note on the mirror before I fell asleep so that he’d see it when he was getting up and ready for work:
Baby, I’m so sorry for the way I’ve been treating you, I would understand if you leave, but I hope you stay.

Faithfully yours,

P.s. you are amazing

If your girlfriend is anything like me, she’d really like PINK. This is exactly what I am talking about, lyrically.

Good luck to you guys, and remember she needs you.

I’m always touched when survivor reach out to me, so I wrote back:

Hi K,

Sorry, it took so long to get back to you. Work has been busy and I maintain this blog on my free time.

I’m also terribly sorry what happened to you when you were young. Nobody should have to go through that.

I thank you for being so candid and sympathetic to partners of survivors. It really means a lot when survivors reach out and offer insight.

You’re very right- it is unfair to say that survivors use their past trauma as an excuse to be cruel. And I’m sorry if I gave anyone the impression that survivors are looking for excuse to be cruel. Perhaps, I need to be more clear. Because I can see how someone might misinterpret what I’m saying.

Everyone needs to understand that this is what partners of survivors hear, every time a survivor inadvertently lashes out at us. As you noted, survivors can be cruel (very cruel) and they do often use their past trauma as an excuse.

As far as excuses go, childhood sexual abuse is one that is hard to ignore. But understand that does not make cruel behavior any less cruel. It doesn’t make abusive behavior any less abusive. In the end, there is no excuse for abuse. Abuse is abuse. All abusers were victims of abuse at one time. That is the cycle of abuse. This is how abusive behavior is passed from one generation to the next.

That being said, please don’t ever think that I am unsympathetic to your condition. I would not have ended up in multiple relationships with survivors had I not been terribly patient, compassionate and sympathetic (maybe to a fault). So if you are wondering why I have so much hate in my heart, then maybe you need to consider how many times I have had a survivor break my heart.

Ultimately, they (the survivors) cut me out of their lives. Not the other way around. I was more than willing to make it work. THEY gave up. So your fear that your boyfriend will leave you is irrational. He must love you a lot for him to put up with all the things partners of survivors put up with. Honestly, we shouldn’t have to put up with it, but we do.

Once again, I thank you for reaching out to me. I really do appreciate it when a survivor makes the effort to own up to her condition, her past and her abusive behavior. But posters like you are the exception to the rule. For every survivor that has reached out to me, a hundred more have lashed out at me for telling the truth. So thank you for confirming that truth. That makes you a better person. And allows me to believe that there is hope for you and people like you.

Sadly, my most recent borderline ex did not have the decency to own up to her abusive behavior. Unlike you, she did not have the decency to write to me after our break up and own up to all the shitty things she did to me. In fact, she and her shitty family did all they could to cover up her abusive behavior. They didn’t even have the decency to acknowledge how much I had done for their troubled loved one. Instead, they treated me like I was the problem. But that’s what makes them assholes. And now, she has pulled yet another unsuspecting victim into her life.

She probably does regret the way she treated me, but she hasn’t been decent enough to tell me so. Unlike you, she is in deep denial. She is living a lie in La La Land. She has added insult to injury. As you might expect, I am less sympathetic to her because of all this.

But thanks to you, I have a better understanding of survivors. Or rather, I remember what it was like when I was more sympathetic to survivors. But it does not mean I condone abuse. Abuse is abuse. Being abused as a child is not a proper excuse for passing on that abuse as an adult. At some point, we need to put an end to this cycle. It starts with victims getting the help they need, but it also starts with survivors recognizing the harm they pass onto loved ones.

I wish you and your partner the best of luck. You are very lucky to have found someone who will stay by your side. There are very few of us out there. Always remember that when you find a reason to get mad at him or you feel the urge to leave him before he leaves you. You owe it to him and yourself to get better and put an end to the cycle of abuse. Best of luck, SD.

ps I posted that Pink video before. And despite being overly dramatic, it’s a very good depiction of what partners of survivors go through. At least, psychologically and emotionally.

Please Don’t Leave Me

25 Responses to “Is Sexual Abuse An Excuse to Be Abusive?”

  1. savorydish said

    Nobody expects survivors to be perfect. You would be surprised how forgiving I was of my borderline ex. All because she told me she was sexually-abused as a child.

    But even if your partner was sexually-abused their whole life, nobody should tolerate abuse. If your partner can not control her abusive behavior, you must leave immediately. Because staying sends them the message that it’s ok.

    Staying and accepting abuse makes you a co-dependent. You are allowing yourself to be an emotionally-battered partner. It will take its toll on you.

  2. Zee said

    Indeed. What happened to a person in the past is not my fault; therefore, I don’t need to stick around for the consequences.

    The ’empathy from a distance’ thing doesn’t even work for me. I Tried that. It’s like my borderline ex could feel it over the airwaves. The best thing I did was stop caring altogether. After that, she went away.

    Those who want to call me cruel can do so. They don’t pay my bills, so f__k ’em.

    I don’t wast my empathy on those who are unwilling or incapable of having empathy themselves. And I don’t care WHY they can’t or won’t have it. NOT MY PROBLEM. Life is too short.

    • savorydish said

      I would say it’s not even about empathy or fault. It’s about maintaining your own sanity. I feel sorry for people who were sexually abused, but I can choose not to have a relationship with this person if they are incapable of curbing deeply-ingrained abusive behavior. The bottom line is don’t take shit from anyone. Being fucked up is not an excuse. Tolerating abuse has nothing to do with being a loving person. Enough said.

      • Zee said

        ” . . . but I can choose not to have a relationship with this person if they are incapable of curbing deeply-ingrained abusive behavior.”

        I had a weird interaction with someone about this. I don’t know how it was brought up, but I said that if a woman has sexual abuse in her past, I won’t be involved with her. The person gave the usual, ‘But it wasn’t her fault, we have to be supportive, etc,’ routine and kind of questioned my stance. I just told them that that’s my PERSONAL CHOICE, and I shouldn’t have to defend it and I don’t really care what anyone thinks.

        Amazing . . . our culture is all about being ‘yourself,’ and then when you ARE yourself, people question you about it.

        Now . . . my reasoning is that if a woman has had sexual abuse in her past, there’s just way too much of a probability for all the chaos that ensues. Therefore, I chose to forego that risk ALTOGETHER. Relatively simple, right? That’s not what everyone would do: that’s what I WOULD DO. And in fact, I have done it.

        As for not taking shit from anyone . . . there’s a bit of learning behind that. For a while, I confused ‘not taking shit’ with being an asshole myself. Not everyone does that, but that was my unfortunate route. I really had to go learn WHY I took shit in the first place. That was tough going. I had to listen to a lot of things that I didn’t want to hear.

    • L.V.X. said

      Bad Ju Ju sure puts it lightly. These women are, or at least was in my case, physical manifestations or incarnations of Pomba Gira. I know for a fact mine was. It’s an archetypal phenomena, and has a fascinating history. Evangelicals would call it a Jezebel Spirit probably. Feminists would label it as an empowered woman like Inanna. Psychologists call it BPD. I call her my Scarlet Harlot. The Red Goddesses of our current Age. Common enough to have become an archetypal motif by a different name in every culture I’ve studied, every mythology, every religion, folktale, etc…

      I understand what you’re saying when you mention the airwaves thing. It’s like the magick they practice actually works. I wouldn’t be surprised if others BPDexes were into occult or new agey things or had a history of Pagan and Wiccan practices. Spiritually seeking answers and quick fixes in everything from Yoga to casting spells or doing rituals for empowerment or lust or love. Scary thing is if anyone could effectively cast a spell it’d probably be a BPD. Seems like Darkness works in their favor. I’m just rambling. I appreciate again everyones comments and thoughts, there are so few places to share our experiences with people that understand. The comments from the BPD women are even fascinating.

      • savorydish said

        My ex was all about quick fixes. Yoga, check. Wicca, check. Dancing until her feet bled, oy.

      • Sammy Campbell said

        Well I have a lot when it comes to the sexual abuse issue with my Cluster B ex, its sad though because looking back on it now she was really trying hard to love, and this is where I blame her silly ass family. A few times where she would want to open up and be totally transparent. She just couldn’t so she would talk around her
        moms abuse of her. When it came to her father she in her own condo admitted to me that she used to get drunk with her Dad and his friends., are you ready for this? When she was 7 or 8 years old. She even made a comment to me about being told that she was different than the other girls. @ Savorydish you tell me what this is if its not Sexual abuse and molestation!

      • savorydish said

        We can never know for sure. But the lack of boundaries and the uncontrolled drinking opens up all sorts of bad scenarios. The ties between alcohol/substance abuse and sexual abuse of children are real. These are the girls who end up getting “raped” at college parties.

  3. savorydish said

    If a woman abuses you or your trust and they blame their childhood trauma, RUN. This is a person who is not able to control their abusive tendencies. It’s not their fault that they were abused. But it’s not your obligation to be the recipient of their abusive behavior.

  4. savorydish said

    To be fair, my ex did tell me that I would be crazy to stay with her. But this was well after she had completely ruined the relationship. She had already been caught cheating on me twice. She had been caught lying. She had been caught being batshit crazy. There was nothing left to hide. She knew she could not fake being normal anymore. She had no choice. She had to run. Do I blame her for being sexually molested. No. But I do blame her for putting me through hell.

  5. Zee said

    I’ve been thinking about this.

    If we let people who were abused get away with abuse, where does it end? All the rationalizing and enabling will expand the definition of what is acceptable behavior until almost anything is permissible. It’s a slippery slope. Sooner or later, there’ll be no right or wrong at all . . . and despite what everyone says, no one wants that.

    Poorly trained or crackpot shrinks are among the WORST enablers and rationalizers. Their politically correct view that there is no such thing as ‘character’ – that we’re all just an amalgamation of ‘neuroses’ (the Freudian concept) has done more to damage the understanding of the human condition than anything else. The reality that there IS such a thing as CHARACTER has been denied, to the detriment of people who suffer at the hands of emotional vampires like your ex and mine.

    BPD is CHARACTEROLOGICAL in nature – according to my friend who worked on a BPD ward in NYC under Otto Kernberg for two years. And it does NOT happen to everyone who has been sexually abused. Some professionals believe that borderlines are people who were born with a thin emotional skin to begin with, and whatever trauma they went through sent them over the edge. THINK ABOUT THAT. Not every abuse survivor turns into a lunatic. If every one did, there would be an inescapable causal link. Yes, the causal link exists in borderlines, but there is something more. What about borderlines who were NOT sexually abused? (A low percentage, for sure, but still.)

    If the mental health field and its adjunct disciplines do not get honest with themselves, what progress will we make? Will they continue to allow people to filter BPD through an ideological grinder? Will they keep lighting scented candles and spewing milquetoast self-help jargon? What about the NONs who suffer?

    • savorydish said

      Yes, I agree. A borderline’s thin skin makes her 10 times more vulnerable to sexual abuse, but also makes her trauma more intense. My ex’s BPD most likely was the result of her lost twin. Add to that sexual abuse, negligent/abusive parents and all the other crap that hit her, and you have the royally screwed up person that she is. But for some borderlines, sexual abuse is what caused the BPD.

      I was amazed when I saw JC Duggard on a TV interview. Even though she had been abused for most of her childhood by her kidnappers, she seemed amazingly grounded and strong. Clearly she was not born with BPD. I have also talked to people with BPD who didn’t seem all that bad. So there are a myriad of factors involved with how screwed up a person is. Ultimately, you have to judge each person as an individual. BPD and sexual abuse are just part of the puzzle.

  6. savorydish said

    But all of this mess could be avoided, if survivors could just be more honest with themselves. If you are not well enough to control your destructive tendencies, you have no business being in a relationship with another human being.

    When you enter that relationship, you are signing an agreement stating that you will take responsibility for whatever harm you cause that person. If that is too much responsibility for you, then you are not mature enough to be in a relationship.

    You can not claim ignorance or victimhood if you have a long history of abuse. You are an abuser and you must face the consequences of such actions. What happened in the past will not get you out of jail for free.

    • This is a Great point, it’s the single most thing that I have been angry about , That my BPD ex could put my life in danger, by being reckless and not give a damn about who she hurts my family , my kids etc. I wasn’t looking to be reckless , this woman got to the point where she almost just offered sex on the spot the she just kept trying to make me jealous. She just got worse and worse.

      • And speaking of a get out of jail free card. This Aroura Co. thing who would like to place a bet that this guy is not a cluster -B . This bringing me to thoughts of me BPD ex, See like a child she goes from place to place knowing her condition also knowing that she has no business in a so called relationship, but like a child she keeps sticking her hands into the cookie jar because there has never been any price to pay for her actions. She works for a major corp. as a business systems analyst….they have never called her on BPD….so what the hell . I am sure she thinks she can do what ever she wants to whom ever she so choses. And that there will never be a price to pay.

      • Zee said

        Untreated borderlines are incapable of empathy. They can feel shitty, but that’s not the same as empathy. Empathy is acknowledgement of another person’s circumstances and a proper regulation of one’s actions according to those cirumstances. Borderlines can READ a person or a situation and use what they find out as a tool to get what they want, but that’s not ’empathy’; that’s moral corruption.

        Borderlines are in fact quite expert at reading other people’s emotions; it’s what they DO with the information that separates them from normal people. Hence . . .

  7. savorydish said

    K, the woman who wrote to me, fears she might have BPD. Until she gets diagnosed, no one will really know. Compared to some of the Ragers who have shown up here, she seems like she is in pretty good shape. Despite all the horrible things that have happened to her, she seems to have a good attitude and good amount of self-awareness. But maybe she’s just good at hiding her dysfunction. It’s hard to say, but I always give people the benefit of the doubt.

    But even she admits she has her moments of “nastiness”. And until she can learn to control this nasty behavior, she is an emotional danger to anyone who gets near. That is a scientific fact. So while her compassion and empathy seem real, she is ultimately causing her boyfriend emotional harm.

    Whether or not they mean to cause harm is irrelevant. They are causing harm. And that is what needs to be addressed. These women can not afford to bear more blame and shame.

    No matter how damaged you are, you MUST acknowledge the pain you are causing others. Honesty is not enough. Do not pull people into your life if you have a history of causing others pain. Living with loneliness is better than living with guilt.

  8. Zee said

    “but I always give people the benefit of the doubt.”

    Can’t say I do the same anymore. Not my problem. I spot red flags, I move on.

    I recommend the same for others. Don’t cast your pearls before swine . . . even potential swine.

    • savorydish said

      Well, I wouldn’t say I cast pearls before her. I just wouldn’t call her swine. Despite her ailment, she seems like a decent human being. Troubled but decent. I think it’s harsh to call her swine or even potential swine. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I’m not advising her boyfriend to stay with her. I’m just giving credit where credit is due. To come here and own up to all the horrible things she’s done to her boyfriend is a step in the right direction. As survivors ourselves, we too are in danger of becoming vampires. That is, if someone shat in our heart, the answer is not turn our heart cold.

      • savorydish said

        Compassion is what separates us from them. If we engage in black and white thinking then we are no better. Terrible things have happened to these people, they deserve our sympathy for that. But that does not mean we have to let them use us as a punching bag. It’s easy to lose compassion when you’ve been stabbed in the back by someone you loved, but I’ll be damned if I let them make me less of a human being. It’s not as cut and dry as they are evil and we are good. There’s a lot of grey area. If we fail to recognize that, then we too have become black and white thinkers.

  9. Zee said

    Dude, I’m not calling her swine; it’s a ‘saying.’ It means don’t waste your good stuff on people who are unable or unwilling to reciprocate. As for compassion . . . I deal with things my way, other people deal with it their way. I have plenty of compassion. I do volunteer work with the elderly, I’m nice to my neighbors, I give to charity. Why would you think I lack compassion? I’m just not a douchebag who volunteers to be around crazy people if I can help it.

    If I’m going to have compassion, fine; but I’ll have it at a distance. And it will be short-lived. There are too many people who are far more deserving. Good people with character and integrity.

    Quite frankly, I’m not fitting in here anymore. I’m not a black and white thinker because I choose to acknowledge that there’s a right and wrong in this world. I have a very keen grasp of nuance when it comes to human relations. But I save my ‘grey areas’ for those who won’t set them on fire. That doesn’t mean I’m an asshole; that just means I’m smart. Give ONE OUNCE of grey area to a cluster B, and they will EAT YOU ALIVE. Screw that!!

    I won’t dwell in moral reletavism for the sake of people’s feelings. It’s an un-liveable philosophy. If everything is relative, if there is no objective right and wrong, then why do people get mad when other people do bad things to them? If there is no right or wrong, THERE’S NO REASON TO BE MAD.That’s just plain old linear reason.

    A lack of objective standards means that the lowest common denominator triumphs. That doesn’t mean there’s no room for nuance or the foibles of human nature; it just means that without some kind of agreed upon structure and rules, the lunatics run the asylum. With moral relativism ruling the mental health industry, that’s what’s happened. And now everyone’s running around with their hair on fire screaming “What went wrong?!!’ Well, you told people there are no rules and that they can do whatever they want, therefore, you created a clusterfuck. REAL SIMPLE. You patted people on the back when you should have given them a kick in the ass. You gave them a smiley face and a A when you should have given them a big fat F.

    I will not suspend whatever COMMON SENSE I have left by trying to have compassion for people who spread napalm in other people’s lives. I’ll have compassion for MYSELF instead and leave them to their miseries.

    • savorydish said

      I’m well aware of the saying, zee. I’m not saying you aren’t compassionate towards others. I can not comment on things you do outside this blog. I’m asking you to be respectful of other commenters even if they do have BPD. I’m asking you to control your anger and your hostile tone. If you can’t do that then maybe this is not the blog for you. To be frank with you, I’m finding your rhetoric to be a little too militant.

      • savorydish said

        You’ve been a longtime contributor, Zee. And I appreciate your insight. But there are times when the hardass in you takes over, and it becomes a little disruptive and disconcerting. I suspect that you might be overcompensating for feelings of guilt. Perhaps it’s regret over your past. I don’t know, you tell me. I sense that you have a hard time expressing your feelings which is why it always comes out as rage.

        I have to say that the severity of your tone of voice makes it hard for others to be sympathetic to your plight, our plight. You might want to try softening your personality and allow a bit of vulnerability to come through. I know you’ve been hurt. We’ve all been hurt. But the answer is not to become a hardass. I don’t doubt you are a compassionate person in real life, but it’s not coming across here.

        This blog was not designed for people to preach about moral relativism. It was designed for people to share their feelings and stories. If this is too touchy-feely for you, then maybe this blog is not for you. Your knowledge of psychology and philosophy is imrpessive, but I would like to get to know the real Zee. I have created an environment where people can feel free to share their feelings. That’s why I can’t have commenters attacking other commenters. It shuts the conversation down and makes it one-sided.

        I’m asking you to reconsider your approach. And maybe take a look at what’s going on in your own head. I’m trying to make this blog more human and real, but I feel like your rants are making it less so.

      • savorydish said

        I started writing about BPD, because I couldn’t understand why the woman I loved turned on me. Her lack of compassion and her brutality dumbfounded me. So when I see that same brutality here, I react to it. My first instinct is to correct it, to stomp it out. There is no room for that here. Since the Tiger Beatdown rioters showed up a year ago, I have noticed this blog has taken a bad turn. It’s become a hostile environment. It has attracted combative types. That’s not what this blog is about. Since Stephanie Hallett and Sady Doyle spilled their venom here, there has been less dialogue and less compassion. Now that the Ragers have been put in their place, it’s time to correct our course.

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