Why Healing From Abuse Is Never About The Abuser

Evelyn Ryan, Yourlifelifter

Excerpted from Evelyn Ryan’s book, Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse Survivors. Read a review of the book here.

th-8The only person you are here to serve is your authentic self. When you serve your authentic self, your decisions and actions fulfill your legitimate emotional needs. All of life’s pieces fall into place, since the core of your being is truth-based and authentically you. You know you can rely on yourself for your safety. You feel safe in your own body.

What happens to us when we are abused, betrayed by those we intimately trust? Betrayal is one of the most painful human experiences. The victim’s response is shame, internal pain, self-loathing, trauma, and fear. We translate that into the false belief that something is wrong with us. But there is nothing wrong with us! There never was. We did not do anything wrong. Being who we are is not wrong. Our love was real. Our trust was real. Theirs was not. We were innocent defenseless victims.


Our attackers are character-flawed, disordered. We were betrayed because we trusted and depended on unhealed abusers, manipulators, and untrustworthy broken people. They betrayed us. We were betrayed because that is what betrayers do. It was not personal in that sense. Our attackers targeted us because they are experts on homing in on people with our vulnerabilities.


They need people with our vulnerabilities so that their manipulation tactics will be
successful, so that they will win the challenge and the ultimate prize: our energy, attention, and adulation. Before you and me, there were many, and after us, there will be many more. We were betrayed because we were vulnerable. We did not ask to be victimized, but we played a role in the abuse that we need to understand and accept.

imgresMany of us are empaths—highly sensitive natural healers, compassionate people with
high emotional intelligence. We did not learn to use our compassion and trust responsibly; we depended on untrustworthy people to define our self-worth. Our emotional vulnerabilities make us complicit in our own abuse by keeping us susceptible to abusers who preyed on us and kept us addicted to pain. This truth can be very painful, and yet it’s life-changing. It will change your life forever and for the better. When we know better and that we are worthy of the knowledge, we do better.

knowbetter do betterAnger, resentment, and revenge will not heal us. Self-avoidance will not heal us. Focusing on our abusers will not heal us. Taking responsibility and accepting without judgment will. In healing, we learn to become our authentic selves—and to stop seeking approval of our worth from others. Healing is a learning process. Through asking the right questions and seeking and finding truthful answers in a safe and trusting environment, we learn to turn our compassion and courage inward to support shifts in our thinking that lead to long-term emotional health and happiness.

We learn to befriend ourselves (who we long ago abandoned) by accepting our powerlessness, committing to our healing, challenging our thoughts, releasing our fear and shame, and incrementally taking our power back as we lift up our thinking and discover and honor our real selves and our personal divinity.

Do we need to understand our abusers to heal? Yes. But minimally and only in order to understand what they are missing and what they exploited in us and what faulty beliefs make us vulnerable to them. In fact, focusing too much on them will prevent you from healing.

Read more here on how much do we need to know about narcissism to heal.

Narcissistic abuse recovery expert, Melanie Tonia Evans, cautions us frequently that focusing too much on our abusers and our fear of them rather than on our healing and the role we play in our abuse can keep us trapped and prevent our recovery. I can relate.

One of the most difficult lessons I learned was that I was vulnerable to attacks by manipulators and bullies. I felt threatened by them and believed I was not safe. I became fearful and resentful. My fear drove me to overestimate the harm from them and underestimate my ability to deal with them. I felt defenseless. I became hyper-vigilant in my attempts to avoid shame and pain as I waited for their attacks. I became hyper-reactive to attacks that I was sure would come and did come. I became intolerant, which did not serve me.

In the process, I gave up my power to emotional vampires who continued to target me. Trying to avoid perceived threats kept me emotionally trapped to the people and events that triggered my fears and caused me continued pain. So, I remained a victim of the emotional vampires because I thought like a victim. I was held captive by my own fears. I became emotionally fatigued. Focusing on them rather than myself kept me from healing. I learned and accepted that my fear was giving my abusers the power to overcome me.th-14

So I put on my big-girl britches and, little by little, took on and challenged my fears and
my false sense of powerlessness, replacing them with courage and self-assurance. I took my power back as I came into my own truth and accepted what I could change as well as what I could not. I accepted what happened to me, took responsibility for the role I played, and shifted my thinking from that of a victim to one who wanted to take her power back, detach from and defuse the abusers, and thrive. I took action!

I adapted by turning the irrational fear and hypervigilance into compassion and tolerance. I turned that wasted fear-driven energy to the source of that fear within myself and not only challenged and released it but replaced it with self-compassion, self-knowledge, self-power, self-respect, and self-love. I honed my ability to identify and cope with evil people. Instead of focusing my energy on them, I shifted my attention to me and my self-worth and abilities. I protected my personal boundaries because I know and believe I am worth it.

In the process of healing and witnessing my own healing, my fear of aggressors became pity for the powerless annoyances they are. In the process, my self-esteem and self-respect and self-assuredness soared, and I took my power back. I chose not to give my power to powerless emotional vampires and to protect my personal boundaries and honor my personal rights and authority because I know I deserve respect. I taught my daughter the same. In the process, my daughter healed through me and thrived. It is never about the other person, folks. My dear friend Jim Upshaw told me that years ago, and I never forgot the message. Now I know the true meaning. Now I never forget the lesson: When you serve your authentic self, your decisions and actions fulfill your legitimate emotional needs. You know you can rely on yourself for your safety. All of life’s pieces fall into place, since the core of your being is truth-based and authentically you.

In the healing process, we regain our self-trust, self-power, self-respect, and self-esteem. We learn what our true value is to ourselves. We learn to rely on and trust internal emotional cues that have been recalibrated with our personal truth and core beliefs. Oh, of course, we must get cues from our environment and from others who have our best interests at heart. We also become better able to recognize those who do not. But we now can readily use those cues to gauge where we are and to tweak our internal truth-seeking filters based on our choices and their outcomes.

th-29In healing, we learn who we really are and to love ourselves. We become fully integrated people of integrity whose thoughts, actions, and beliefs align. Our healing allows us to be the best version of ourselves. It is the best demonstration of self-love we could give ourselves. And in that newfound truth, we thrive.

23 thoughts on “Why Healing From Abuse Is Never About The Abuser

  1. jedarcs110980 says:

    My life has brought a lot of aches to myself my it be self inflected or I feel others are hurting me. I am so lost in space even if I always make sure to bounce back to whatever failure I have done. Pretty much it always ends up on how I choices. As for now, I still know even if I choice the right path there is always that doubt if I did it right I will still fail in the eyes of others but I will survive.


    • Evelyn Ryan says:

      Not by “choice.” This is metaphorical. “Abandoning ourselves” is a wounded response to abuse, trauma, invalidation, denigration as children and part of the harm from our pain-based emotions being overly taxed and us being traumatized. We DIS-integrate and reintegrate in healing. We become codependent on others rather than ourselves to define our worth and carry these unhealed wounds with us into adulthood. Perhaps this article will bring more clarity. https://yourlifelifter.com/2015/08/14/codependency-does-not-cause-abuse/ There are also many more in the Blog that are discussed in my Book Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips, and Tools for Abuse Survivors. amazon.com/Take-Your-Power-Back-Survivors-ebook/dp/B018VAT9QG

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I'm REAL NOW says:

    re: “Oh, of course, we must get cues from our environment and from others who have our best interests at heart.”

    What if there are NO ‘others?’

    I was born into a corrosive and abusive system of severe abuses, lies and control in my family of origin’s narcissistic dynamic which is actually generational, and in my mid-fifties now I finally understand I was their chosen ‘whipping boy.’

    I am finally able to understand the ‘internal/external’ parts of the lies, abuse and control inflicted onto me, and I understand my ‘beingness’ was created by design and survival to be forced into a thinking/false belief inner system of denial… all in order to survive the onslaught of abuse as well as the severity of being emotionally, physically, mentally and Spiritual ostracized by the entire family.

    What I don’t get is now as I’ve awakened to this ‘reality,’ stepping out from the hold on me and choosing consciously to become 100% No Contact with the entire family, including the few ‘friends’ who can’t understand the damage and severity of this system dynamic and who have chosen to also leave me… having literally no person available in whom to talk with, share any part of my life with on any level, I am finding the pain of loss so great, coupled with the natural necessity to mourn much loss, that even having to mourn the loss of my n mother’s death last June is more than I am able to humanly handle. Therapy is a no go, as every therapist I’ve spoken with over the years never once touched on the family dynamic of narcissistic abuse, yet now that I understand the dynamics, is clearly evident from my life history. I also understand, as a co-dependent person by ingrained survival necessity, what is a person to do in order to heal and not succumb to totally shutting down, and self harming as the pain is so great, and the ‘aloneness’ in my awareness is so deep?! It’s like an oxymoron, a no win situation, I’m left alone and in pain, and no one to reach out to, nor have anyone available to sit with me as I endure this process of mourning.

    I understand the need to self-partner, and I also understand the very Human need for ‘tribe,’ in order to have natural support. In this realm of ‘healing self,’ I keep reading that having any other understand and offer support on the outside of Self is wrong, and is basically demonized. I’ve been demonized enough in this lifetime, and I’m tired of being made and/or seen as a victim just for having feelings! It’s taken me all my life to finally begin realizing I HAVE feelings, and beginning to trust myself enough to allow myself to actual FEEL MY FEELINGS. Being shut down and shut out for my, what others’ perceive as ‘negative’ feelings is just more abuse from those who are supposed to be understanding! I’m not asking for anyone to ‘do the work for me,’ I’m wondering why people who are supposed to be enlightened basically just say tough, deal with it, and when you’re ‘healthy,’ then look me back up and we’ll go have fun. I want to ‘go have fun now,’ and also have someone to just accept where I’m at NOW, fun, pain and all.

    It’s a catch twenty-two. All I’m getting is that ‘when I’m ‘good enough” then others will be available. That’s just crap! I see that as a cop-out. And it hurts and confuses me on every level. To go ‘find’ new people to befriend is something I’ve never been able to do, as a co-dependent, all the relationships were based on my sacrificing self in order to get, and the getting was never got! I WANT to learn new skills, healthy ways of Being, and I desire the opportunity to practice and BE SAFE in the process, yet I’ve not had one opportunity to do so!

    Where and how does one begin, when there’s literally no healthy foundation to create from? Creating a healthy inner foundation is my goal. It’s one step forward and twenty backwards. Is all that’s really available for me is to just journal? Keep myself closed off from the world, and just go inward and talk to myself? Is all this just talk that people throw around and sound like there is a way for community and help and support… or are people just all unequipped to be authentic and trusting and giving in kindness without a need to control and harm the ‘hurting?’


    • Evelyn Ryan says:

      Are you not here part of the Yourlifelifter family where you are safe and respected? Are you not part of the Yourlifelifter community of over 12,000 people. We can build our own family and support system that start with LOVING OURSELVES and self-care and self-compassion. Is this painful? Absolutely because we have to replace all the dysfunctional and pain-based thinking we were ACCUSTOMED to and comfortable with with the UNKNOWN and trust the outcomes of our efforts…sort of a rebirth and a leap of faith AND get rid of the toxicity that we were addicted to and felt comfortable with.

      Read this article too. https://yourlifelifter.com/2016/01/29/what-is-a-family-and-what-its-not/


      THIS IS A PROCESS of rescuing ourselves from despair and what better place to start than at YOURLIFELIFTER where we have your back and YOU KNOW you are safe.

      Sign up for my self-esteem building tips at https://yourlifelifter.com/contact-form-free-self-esteem-building-tips/…if you need advocacy consider life coaching service I provide or competent therapy…Also check out my book at http://www.yourlifelifter.com/takeyourpowerback….point being YOU are the source of all the answers but you have to take action to heal and find them…takes time, courage, faith, patience, self-compassion, and witnessing your own rescue…THIS is how you take your power back.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mary Louise says:

      Real, You are on an incredible journey of healing. You are making wise choices. How I understand the pain of the grieving. You now must begin to build a new circle of support. Everything you have been through can help you make wise choices about who can be in that circle. If you identify narcissism now, let your new counselor KNOW that, and begin the process of healing from it. Many counselors don’t recognize narcissism even when the narcissist is sitting in their office. PTSD or C-PTSD, trauma bonding, and all of the vestiges of abuse need to be addressed. You’ve purged the evil. That is COURAGE!! Search out the good now to invite into your life. That is WISDOM!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Judith Baker says:

    I am so determined! I have been lost in self hate, feeling disgust with myself for being pulled back, again and again, by the false love of the man who abused me! Thinking, that I would be lost, without him, in my life. I am old, how, will I be able to live alone again? He would call, I would call him, every time I felt alone and rememberd the few “good” times we had!
    Now, I can see again!! All of the things that brought me here. Loveless childhood, all of it so clear now!
    I will never allow anyone to do this again! I am worth it! I am all I need! I have a beautiful family! I will survive and use the talents God has given me, those I thought I could never do again…I will start slowly, but I will learn to love “me” for the first time in my 74 years.
    Thank you for the gift of Hope, once more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Evelyn Ryan says:

      I am so happy you found this page and that you found me…it is truly a blessing to know you and I thank you for letting me be part of this intimate journey and for your trust in me. You are taking action and all the correct steps to come into your truth again..keep your eye on the prize. I would love your feedback on Take Your Power Back: Healing Lessons, Tips and Tools for Abuse survivors as well…Thank you and blessings! Evelyn

      Liked by 1 person

  4. tvjackiem says:

    Once you are able to detect a vampire, wear garlic, metaphorically speaking. You can’t change them, they will never get it, and they are parasites. Best response is steer clear, do not engage, and banish them with the right tactics. Garlic and all other repellents. They will suck you dry and shorten your life. Vampires are undead because they have no soul. Given that, do not consider them a soulmate of any kind.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Cecilia Schaefer says:

    With great respect I must say, I did not abandon myself. I was all I had. I had to believe that I was born for something besides abuse and I was determined to find out what that was. It took me sixty years, but I can finally see my purpose. Abandonment is a choice and I never made that choice. I do not want to be blamed for my survival tactics, as awkward or ineffectual as some of them might have been. I dragged myself on into victory.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s