Understanding Abuse: Am I responsible? Am I to blame?

Definition of "Responsible":
- Being the primary cause of something and so able to be CREDITED OR BLAMED for it
- Having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part on one’s job/role.
- Having a job or position involving important duties, independent decision-making, or control over others.
- Capable of being trusted; morally accountable for one’s behavior
- Having to report to someone in authority and be answerable to them for one’s actions
Synonyms: important, powerful, executive, accountable, trustworthy, mature, reliable, in control of

Definition of "Blame": To assign responsibility to for a fault or wrong:  
- Example: “the inquiry blames the engineer for the accident”
Synonyms: ascribe to, attribute to, impute to, lay at the door of, put down to

TRUTH: We can’t take responsibility (blame) for things we didn’t have control over and couldn't be credited for.

TRUTH: Blame is the foundation of domestic/family abuse (violence, neglect & passive-aggressive behavior).The anger that fuels abusive behavior is rooted in the abuser’s unhealthy manner of processing the world and then projecting that onto us in the form of blame.  

In the subconscious of an abuser’s mind, blame is essential to both implementing and disguising power and control.  By accepting the blame for your abuse, you actually unconsciously are empowering the abuser.  The longer we have been victims of abuse, the more we have believed lies about our responsibility in the matter. The more we have accepted blame, the harder it is for us to understand healthy boundaries in relationships.  Jesus established clear boundaries with others.  He wants us to follow him in doing the same.  (SEE PAPER on JESUS’ BOUNDARIES)

Thus, it is important to get to the root of what we are and what we are not responsible for.  From the above definitions, it is clear that we can be blamed only for things we were actually equipped to have responsibility for (i.e. things we had power over, things we could take credit for as well as blame for).

Unfortunately, if we were abused as children, we believed lies about our identity.

LIE #1. I am responsible for the abuse that I experienced.

LIE #2. I am uniquely flawed and no one will ever understand me. I am alone.

LIE #3. I have unlimited power to control this situation. (This comes from "magical thinking".)

As children, we couldn't understand the inconsistency between these lies.

As a result of believing the above lies, we entered adulthood with an unhealthy sense of “responsibility”.  We constantly feel accused, even when we are not guilty. And, until we have help dealing with our dysfunctional belief system stemming from our childhood, we can't truly see the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. We often take most of the responsibility for fixing our unhealthy relationships (via control methods or appeasement methods) instead of expecting the other person to do their part.

As children, we were blessed to have “magical thinking”. This is actually a compassionate gift from God. It helps children deal with life until they are equipped for its hardships. We used this magical thinking to help us deal with the instability of our situation.  Subconsciously, we reasoned that if we were powerful enough to "cause the abuse", we were powerful enough to "fix it". This type of thinking was much less scary than realizing that we had “no control” over our abuser's moods and their violent behavior.  Thus, we learned to "walk on eggshells" and developed behaviors that would appease our abusers.  These became our coping mechanisms. However, bringing these same coping mechanisms into adulthood hasn't brought us the harmony and intimacy we desire in our relationships.

It is very important to understand how God feels about abuse (See Article: What God Says About Abuse in the Bible) so that you can reframe your thinking. The book "Stop Walking on Eggshells" is also highly recommended as a resource. It will help free you from these unhealthy coping mechanisms and help you take back the abundant, creative life that God had originally intended for you.

Here is a link to this book: Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder

The truth is that nothing will change unless either:


Definition of being Response-able:
- Equipping yourself with healthy ways of responding, vs. reacting, to abusive situations. (SEE PAPER on RESPONSES)
- Responding non-defensively, but with confidence.  
- Choosing to respond differently than we have in the past; taking a step toward owning our own power.
- Choosing to no longer be re-active, realizing that knee jerk reacting means backsliding into being controlled by others.


When we are blamed, we tend to be re-active. We think, feel and act in knee-jerk ways that are contrary to what we believe to be true about ourselves. When we react, it shows controlling people that they have power over us.  It feeds their need to have control.  The opposite of being re-active is being response-able.
When you are response-able, you are thinking as well as feeling. This type of focus allows you to maintain your self-worth as well as your moral responsibility before God to testify to the truth, despite anything another person might say about you. The thoughts and feelings of others no longer drag you into a pit of self-doubt.
When we realize that we are not responsible for other’s actions or emotions or how they act or react toward us, whether that is our family, friends or the abuser, we are free to stand in our own authentic power and expression. We are free to take responsibility for changing our perspective and changing our responses to the abuse.

Jesus teaches us to respond to others and the world around us in healthy ways, setting clear boundaries.

TRUTH: If we have truly wronged someone, we are responsible to confess that.  However, we are never responsible for someone else’s choice to behave in an abusive manner towards us.  Abuse is NEVER our fault! God hates oppression!

TRUTH: When we take responsibility for someone else's anger and make it our fault, we take away our own God given confidence and power. We make it easier for the other person to stay steeped in their own darkness and justify their abusive behavior.  God’s word tells us to withdraw from violent people.  God’s word also tells us to speak the truth in love (with kindness and gentleness).


When we choose to become response-able vs. re-active, we see the following good start to bloom in our lives: