Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Part 1 of this post is here. You may wish to read it first before continuing with part 2. But for the sake of continuity, let me sum up the article. Georgia and Nathan’s relationship, or lack thereof, came to a head yesterday, and I was forced to address some rather ugly realities. Namely, that Nathan has internalized an identity of victim so well that he is clearly communicating his vulnerability to anyone looking for an easy bull’s eye. Sadly, Georgia is the one getting the message most often. Today’s article will delve deeper into that side of this situation.
Remember how I said that once someone is victimized, it is easier for them to be revictimized? The person believes they deserve it or are somehow marked by it in a way that defines their value. However, there is another way that victims will often use to handle their own victimization. They become abusers themselves.
How does that work?
I mean really? What on earth would make anyone who has suffered at the hands of an abuser desire to voluntarily replicate that relationship model?
For sexual abuse, the answer is bizarrely straightforward. Sexual reactivity brought about by early abuse triggers a biological response for more sexual activity. If we strip sex of all its intended meaning and nuance and look at it solely as biology, the body is designed to respond to sexual stimulation and the hormones produced create a physical need for more. When the exposure of sexual stimulation is only found within the context of abuse, the jump from victim to abuser can be seen as logical, albeit perverse, step from point A to point B.
Emotional and physical abuse is more subtle, but it is what Georgia is now walking in. Especially regarding her relationships with Nathan.
During the time of Asher’s abuse of Georgia, she rarely became emotional towards Asher. While some of that is because she numbed herself through dissociation, most of her anger was buried deep inside her body.
And now she rages.
But she is still hamstrung from dealing with these difficult emotions properly. First, Asher is locked away and Georgia cannot tell him, to his face or even in a letter that she knows he will read, exactly what she thinks of him and what he did. There is no closure. And we have no idea when victim mediation will finally occur to provide her with this opportunity.
Second, Georgia, in her immaturity and own mental confusion, sees the victim in Nathan and, like his brother before her, she detests it. She sees the vulnerability and helplessness of her own lost innocence. She views, with disgust and loathing, the ways Nathan is weak and unwilling to fight back for himself. She sees these things with a total lack of empathy or compassion because they mirror all her own choices and experiences as a victim. Georgia is still angry at herself for “allowing” the abuse. She continues to struggle with guilt over feeling somehow responsible – not only as a victim who didn’t stop it for herself but as the oldest of the victims who didn’t know how to stop if for her siblings, either.
The fact that she was the one to finally come forward is lost in the blinding furry of lashing back at anything that reminds her of this terrible season of pain… especially things that remind her of feeling out of control.
The combination of control and rage is nasty. It seeks out people to punish and spares nothing in its path. And like floodwater, it has an uncanny way of finding the path of least resistance.
Georgia struggles with all her siblings. As an angry, difficult, often immature teenage girl she finds herself at odds with us all. But her sisters don’t stand for her temper tantrums and mind games. They are quick to come to me or call her bluff. They stand their ground and, metaphorically speaking, punch the bully in the nose. It’s amazingly effective.
What they don’t do is egg her on with passive-aggressive attempts to frustrate her. They don’t couch their dissatisfaction with her in platitudes. They don’t smile while seething on the inside – because they are confident that their voice matters. They don’t question their right to address issues with her. And they don’t step down when she blatantly overreacts. For reasons personal to each sister, none of them are struggling with identifying as a victim.
Sadly, as I wrote yesterday, this is not the case with Nathan.
So he twists the splinter just enough to make sure that she is irritated but never enough to cause a major confrontation where he might need to stand up for himself. He taunts until she takes the bait and then he flees in genuine fear. He wants to push her buttons while simultaneously dreading the ramifications of it.
For Georgia’s part, she wants to rage. She wants to vent and spew and destroy and she is entirely content to use her younger brother as a punching bag for as long as he is willing to take it.
*photo credit: Wasteland | by Denis Defreyne