Abusers who emotionally and physically abuse others often see themselves as martyrs. And indeed those who are abused and stay can become martyrs themselves but I am talking about how an abuser sees him or herself as a victim even though the one they are abusing truly is being victimized.
You know the scene that veils the anger they are trying to choke down. Huffing, puffing, making a lot of noise, trying to seek attention. When you ask if you can help, they somehow make you feel guilty by saying you have little faith in them and they are capable of the task at hand. It is actually a test to see if they can elicit a response so that they can be passive aggressive towards you. The whole point of their seeking attention is to make you feel as if you have done something wrong. They are not really martyrs. They are manipulators who want to appear as martyrs but an abused person can become a martyr and we do it unknowingly and it impedes our personal growth. When we:
- stay in abusive relationships despite it hurting our health and emotional well-being and;
- we refuse to take responsibility for our actions that is causing us pain or
- we have a hard time saying no
then we put ourselves into a martyrdom state because we are upset and complaining but we are not taking charge of our lives which in turn impedes our person growth. We start to use our situation and our abuser as the reason we are not reaching our goals.
It took me a long time to make that connection. Once I did, I stopped making excuses. I was very honest as to how I approached my kids, which to some people, felt like an excuse because of how their Dad had treated them but just like me, I did not allow others to tell me how long it should take my children to mourn. As we started to heal, I started to expect more out of them.
I also started to take care of myself in the marriage before we split. It made a huge difference in my journey. I took art classes, worked out, went for coffee. I emotionally fed myself instead of being angry that he was not emotionally available to me.
He continued to play the role of martyr. He would find problems to have that needed to be fixed or couldn’t be fixed. He continued to assume I could read his mind. He continued to have cynical, paranoid or even suspicious perception of other people’s intentions, including mine. I’ve talked about this before. When I started to meet my basic needs which had been denied for years, suddenly I was a lesbian, gambling, on drugs, having an affair…you name it and it was said to other people in a desperate show of drama and concern but not for me….for him and what I was putting him through. *throw the back of your hand to your forehead and repeat after me “Woe is me. What am I going to do? I don’t understand. I don’t know how to deal.” This continued as he ran to Florida to show his Father how I had left the marital home in a “shambles”. Even though I had told him I would need time to clean the house out BY MYSELF, of our things, that had accumulated for the 20 years we had lived there. He couldn’t wait to run rampant with that. But if you look at when he moved out ( I have pictures) and when I moved out (I have pictures), the house is in better condition and if you look at the receipts it’s in amazing condition as I spent more than I make in a year on it in repairs and renovations.
He continues to play the victim (martyr) while putting me through hell and that is okay. I don’t deal with it anymore. I tell him what I need and since I am representing myself pro se for this next round of bullshit, I copy his attorney in because I want him to see exactly how many times he ditches his responsibilities as a father and how he responds to the simplest of emails. I cannot even communicate with him regarding his son’s college without issue and yet I will be dragged into court and the Divorce Decree his attorney wrote will be challenged by the attorney himself. Either his attorney does not have faith in his legal writing or he doesn’t write contracts as great as he thinks he does and no matter what happens, my ex will be the victim. I wonder where the martyr will run this time.
As for me, it took me years to come to terms with what was actually happening and it dampened my personal growth for many, many years but not anymore. I am growing by leaps and bounds. Changing my life. Decluttering both things and people. Surrounding myself with love and happiness and moving forward. I have no time to stand still. I spent too much time being stagnant for too long!
I wish the same for you.