In "The Body Keeps the Score", I read about how a group of veterans were moving right along in their healing, opening up and talking and telling their stories, but were reluctant to move out of that place. They simply wanted to keep telling their war stories to each other, and stick with the narrative they knew.
In healing from trauma, from emotional abuse and domestic violence, healing is centered on three things: telling your story, having your story being compassionately witnessed, and re-ordering your story with the help of that compassionate witness. In situations of domestic abuse and healing, it is still important to hold to the truth and tell your story WITHOUT becoming stuck in a victim identity.
The hope is one of a re-ordered story.
As for bullies/abusers; how can anyone be proud of themselves, be morally consistent, when their stories of other people are ones of judgment, criticism, fault-finding, attacking, and then twisting the story to make themselves the victim? This is the identity the bully/abuser is stuck in: one of superiority, winning at all costs, contempt, disregard for truth, and exploitation; their stories ones of victory over threats to their fragile egos, their perceived tormentors those who are really their victims. And I can see why they would perceive themselves a victim. If you are stuck on your own way and dependent on someone giving you that way, you are going to be mired deep in anger toward what is not giving you your way. You do not see that you have made yourself powerless.
Victim-blaming is a huge anesthetic. It ensures continued blindness to one's own grief and despair, keeps one from having to fool with one's own messy humanity by way of remorse, and puts up a huge wall that locks out information about how your own behavior affects others. It makes sure you stay stuck in not having insight and self-awareness, not being able to forgive, and certainly not caring about how to make a repair in a relationship.
It keeps you from the deepest truth about yourself: that you are valuable. Not that you are superior,but that you are valuable. There's a huge difference. That you, through your actions, can lead people to their worth, or you can lead them to their pain. Sure, you help them become stronger by inflicting wounds which lead them to their pain, and ideally, to their recovery. You have that power: the power to wound. We all do. But then, in hurting others, you betray yourself. Bullies want and need others to play into their self-betrayal. It's why they love codependents. They want people who will play nice and support their incongruity. But if they truly understood, if they "got" the truth of what they've done just one little bit, they would hang their heads in shame and avoid your (their target's) gaze and stay far away from you. They would understand that even an apology might not work and would appropriately accept the consequences of their hatefulness. They would see how they have disregarded and diminished their own value. (see this article regarding remorse from a Christian viewpoint: https://graceformyheart.wordpress.com/2016/03/11/i-dont-want-to-be-a-narcissist/)
Sherman Alexie writes that there are basically two tribes of humans: those who are assholes, and those who are not. People who love an asshole do the right thing by speaking up. It's like telling your friend they have kale stuck between their teeth or toilet paper on their shoe. If I love you, I help you see yourself. If I love you, I do not allow you to be an asshole, not to me or anyone else. If you still want to stay stuck in asshole identity while in relationship with me, then we must part ways. I won't support you in that endeavor. But at that point we must be clear that you have deliberately chosen that, and there is no room for pretending otherwise. Here is the broom, you sweep up your mess.Or not.
Oppressors so often betray themselves but do not know they betray themselves.
As for the victims of oppressors, silence is an act of deepest self-betrayal. And so the truth-telling is just as important as the rest of the healing. Re-ordering the story means making it one of personal victory instead of one of victimization and oppression. Once you are in the tribe of an oppressor, you are their victim, because they define you. You belong to their story of who you are and your worth. Once you realize that their actions define THEM, you are not in their tribe any more, no matter what vitriolic, grandiose, judgmental, motion-filing, hate-spewing vomitous bile they throw on you. Even when couched in a gloating smile. Then you are defined as the opposite: an overcomer and your story is one of survival, rising above, and holding to truth. It means you are closing the gaps between words and actions and feelings and becoming strong, compassionate, whole. You are in your own triumphant story and you define yourself.
Then the bullies, who used to loom so large, now just seem petty and small. After all, bullies are just a list. After so many years of watching their patterning, it's easy for me to now say, "Oh, you're just a Huffington Post or Psychology Today article. Someone else is acting exactly like you and someone wrote about it and made a list and it is really a list of all the things you do or have done. Actually, lots of someone elses have written a list. Not a good list, either. You're not special because you bully. You're not special because you exploit, demean, have contempt, and control. That's just a list." Bullies then become a big "so what?"
You have then effectively re-ordered the bullies. They are just another lie you believed and don't believe any more.
Survivors of legal, financial, physical, emotional, sexual, and psychological abuse who find their identity in truth-telling, authenticity, congruity, healing, overcoming, and speaking out about their experiences are special. They really are. I know so many who have turned their bus around and they just shine. They have been wounded and have had to re-order what they know about people with exquisite courage. They have had to learn to turn away from users and takers. They have been unfairly jailed, their kids unfairly punished, and have endured the worst imaginable losses at the hands of cruel people and a cruel system. They are not silent, they are righteously angry, and despite what they have been through, they are making a difference in broken places through compassionate love.
Though wounded, they shine.
This is the identity I choose.