I have watched quite a few YouTube channels on narcissistic abuse and they are all unique in their own way. The community of people, survivors, who have made it out to the other end, strengthened themselves and transformed their abuse experience into a powerful sense of purpose and voice to help others is mind blowing and very inspiring to me.
One of these amazing people is Kim, at Kim Wilson TV. If you aren’t familiar with her channel, you’re missing out on the many gifts she’s sharing with victims and survivors all around the world, through her refreshingly sarcastic comments that have, often, make me laugh, while at the same time treating the issue of narcissistic abuse very seriously. There’s no sugar coating of any type in her videos. She has this magical way of cutting to the chase and telling you like it is, while at the same time being incredibly empathetic. I truly admire the work she’s doing and how committed she seems to be to the path os helping others.
Many of her videos have been inspirational and eye opening to me – in fact, it was after watching one of her videos that I finally bit the bullet and started this blog. Thank you, Kim. But today I wanted to comment on one specific video, because she brings up a very good point about why victims keep going back, that is absolutely worth sharing. And I want to add some information to it, as to how my personal story has been different and why. So, let’s get started and watch the video:
So, in a nutshell, one of the reasons why victims keep going back to narcissistic abuse is because their ability for critical thinking is compromised. It isn’t the only reason, but it’s a big part of that equation – and one that isn’t often addressed in this particular way Kim does.
This isn’t limited to physical abuse, but when this type of abuse comes into the scene, it can be very difficult for people outside of that two people cult to understand what possible reason could lead someone to justify going back to a person who physically hurts her. I used to be one of these people myself.
Then I found myself victim of narcissistic abuse, though I didn’t have a name for it at the time. I had gotten used to associate the word “abuse” to physical violence (I don’t think I was alone in this thinking), so the covert psychological and emotional abuse was much more difficult to make sense of and remained mostly undetected for a good chunk of time.
It isn’t that we aren’t aware that psychological and emotional abuse exist and are very damaging. It’s that physical violence is the only one, out of the three, that indisputable proof can be derived from. It’s potentially visible. It leaves marks on the outside. It can be reported with no additional need for explanation and when proof is visible, there’s no doubt. Who the victim is, is more clear cut. So these are the cases we become aware of and empathize with.
The other two types of abuse are typically happening behind closed doors, in alarming numbers. Unfortunately, these victims have nothing to show as proof of the abuse, despite the fact they are being severely beaten and scarred internally. When there IS something to show, these are things that are questionable in terms of their source. Severe weight and hair loss, depression, inability to focus, mental fog, overall feelings of numbness, loss of apetite, CPTSD… all of that can be potentially justified by a myriad of other reasons, making it really difficult, if not impossible, to trace them back to narcissistic abuse and point them out as proof. The narcissist knows that. And takes full advantage of it. So, outside of the narcissistic abuse community online, it’s no wonder we don’t hear much about this. The result is, we all end up mostly uneducated and oblivious to the signs, until it happens to us.
Being one of these thousands of women who have been covertly abused, I will say that Kim’s explanation as to why we keep going back deeply resonates with me. However, I have never gone back after physical violence. In fact, that was the final trigger for leaving. Actually, that isn’t the whole truth. I had experienced physical abuse by him, but he hadn’t laid a hand on me. I do realize this statement doesn’t make much sense when put out of context like this, as this story is yet to be told. So, for now, I’ll focus on the actual physical attack, the straw that broke the camel’s back.
He had threatened before. Lifted an arm, but I was able to prevent it. A few months later, I wasn’t as lucky. I wasn’t beaten up to the point of a black eye and blood dripping down my face. I didn’t need stitches. But my fingers were almost broken, twice. I was hit quite a few times on my chest and arms, had an object hit my leg. I was pushed. My life was threatened. I left. And never looked back.
Why was it different for me? Why didn’t I go back? Why did I consider this a path of no return, when I had been going back to all the other types of abuse, repeatedly?
Apart from the fact that my son’s life was in danger as well (which, in and on itself would have been enough), I’d like to point out that I have my father to thank for on this one.
He was gone already, passed away years prior. But some of the life advice he had given me growing up, quite insistently actually, remained as part of a sort of running program in my brain, firing automatic instructions to certain specific triggers. Two of these instructions probably saved my life. They were:
- We go into a marriage with the intention to make it last. But when it can’t, don’t stay. Strive to make it work, get a divorce and leave if it doesn’t.
- Marriages can be difficult and come with compromises. But listen carefully: if a man EVER lays a hand on you, I don’t care how lightly or severely, you don’t question it, you don’t listen to explanations, you don’t justify it. There’s no justification for physical violence. The ONLY thing you need to do in this situation is leave and never look back.
I remember thinking, growing up, that he was quite repetitive when it came to both these pieces of advice. Little did I know the impact they would have on my life.
I was lucky to have that particular piece of code pre-installed in my brain. It was as simple as trigger-response-period. That belief was already so ingrained in me, that when physical violence happened, I was simply following those clear cut instructions. End of story.
In doing so, I have likely protected mine and my son’s life – and I absolutely saved myself from the further abuse that was bound to ensue.
With this, I’d like to encourage parents everywhere to be mindful of how they can help their children to have the necessary tools and skills to protect themselves, should they ever find themselves in an abusive situation. My father gave me this amazing gift, one that served me DESPITE the mind fog, DESPITE my overall mental state under torture, DESPITE the gaslighting and manipulation. Unfortunately, I had no program running for psychological and emotional abuse. I do now.
I’d also like to encourage adult victims and survivors to be mindful of this. We are all shaped and programmed in various ways, through our upbringing, life experiences and acquired knowledge. But ultimately, these programs run in the background, generating automatic responses, many of which we aren’t even aware of. I believe it’s important for us to become aware of the programs we have running in the background and reprogram them if they aren’t producing positive results in our lives.
And right now, if you’re reading this and find yourself in the midst of a physically abusive relationship, take a minute to think about my father’s advice. There is nothing to justify being physically attacked. If nobody has pre programmed you to leave that situation, you can do that yourself. Say to yourself, over and over: physical abuse equals leaving. Abuse equals leaving. Until it overrides your currently running program. You really need to start thinking about leaving, safely. At Kim Wilson’s channel you will be able to find many videos on the subject. I encourage you to watch them as well.
Be wise, stay safe, but by all means, find a way out. Reach out for help, if that’s what it takes. The known and studied nature of abuse says its tendency is to always get worse, not better. It’s not getting better. I’ts-not-getting-better. A physically abusive partner is dangerous and it could potentially cost your life.
I’d like to thank Kim Wilson for inspiring this blog post.