7 Spiritual Ideas That Enable Abuse and Shame the Victim by Shahida Arabi
Spirituality can be a beautiful thing, a healing balm for the hurting trauma survivor. I believe as survivors we all have a right to our unique beliefs and faith. Yet there are some spiritual beliefs and principles that, when taken too far, can be distorted to blame or shame victims of abuse or other forms of trauma, proving harmful and limiting to the healing journey. It’s important to shed light on spiritual frameworks that may hinder or impede a survivor’s journey to authentic healing and can perpetuate a larger victim-shaming discourse in society. Here are seven spiritual philosophies that can be misused to blame the victim and enable abuse.
1. The idea that there is no separation. Spiritual gurus like to promote the idea that we are all “one.” This is true to some extent: we are all humans, having a similar experience of consciousness, living in an interconnected world. What affects one, will inevitably affect another (unless they are protected from the effects by a bubble of privilege). Yet the idea that abuser and victim are “one” tends to minimize and deny the reality of the abuser’s pathological behavior, which makes them far less united with the rest of humanity and society as a whole. The truth is, while we are all interconnected, abusers rarely have any respect for that sacred interconnectedness; they are more prone to being divisive and hateful to bolster their false sense of superiority, their selfish agendas and their lack of empathy or compassion for anyone other than themselves. They pose incredible harm to their loved ones as well as the larger society.
The abuser makes himself or herself distinct and separate from the victim by engaging in horrific acts of emotional, psychological and physical violence. When used to excuse the abuser, this philosophy outright denies the fact that some abusers have no ability to empathize or show remorse for their behavior, which is a large part of what makes us human. This philosophy can be exploited to justify horrific assaults on the victim’s identity and erosion of beliefs, urging him or her to reconcile with the abuser under the idea that we must treat the abuser like everyone else, like ourselves, rather than a perpetrator who needs to be held accountable for their actions.
2. Our pain is an illusion, created by our ‘dysfunctional’ thinking. We’ve all heard this one, especially in new age spiritual frameworks. In this scenario, we are the creators of our own pain due to erroneous thoughts, because “love is all that ever exists.” Yet true love rarely exists within an abusive relationship (unless it’s coming from the victim), and our perceptions of the abuse are not simply due to erroneous thinking – they are due to egregiously damaging acts of mental and physical violence…
2 thoughts on “7 Spiritual Ideas That Enable Abuse and Shame the Victim”
Such an important topic, and you covered it brilliantly. Thank you. I will link to this article in the future.
“We “attracted” the abuser so we have to take responsibility for being abused. While I am a big believer in agency and empowerment, I simply cannot stomach the victim-shaming idea that the abuse is in any way a survivor’s fault. Abusers manipulate, demean and belittle others regardless of who they are. Independent or codependent, wealthy or just barely surviving, outgoing or introverted, happy or depressed – they target victims due to their capacity for empathy, not because of their personal deficiencies, shortcomings or character traits. If the victim did have past traumas that ‘programmed’ or ‘primed’ the victim for abuse, it still does not justify the abuse; in fact, it makes the abuser all the more sick for retraumatizing a victim who has already been victimized.”
I recently had someone basically said this to me. That I had chosen to marry my husband and I needed to take full responsibility for putting myself in the situation I was and still am in. Unfortunately, people fail to aee that we were deceived from the very beginning. So while yes, we said “I do” and we can take responsibility for that part of it, we cannot take responsibility for having been conned and taken advantage of. The porson who said that to me did so many months ago and her words are still hurting me. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t do anything on purpose to bring it onto me.
Another great article. Thank you fr sharing and, by doing so, allow for some of us to get some much needed healing, as well as validation.
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