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Enablers of abuse - why do they do it?

Applecore

Confident
What is it that enablers get out of facilitating abuse? Is it because they are themselves insecure, and feel safer from being on the side of power, even if that power is abusive? Might they even get a thrill from that? Or are they so 'disassociated' (a term I want to learn more about) that they don't actually see what's going on? Or have they been abused themselves, and think that is the way of the world, and so there's nothing to object to, and so the abuser abuses because they can, because the enabler is not saying "stop"? Or having been abused themselves, might they even see it as a kind of selfish revenge on the world, that it happened to them so it should happen to someone else, too? Or might they even have some hidden resentment towards the target of abuse, so it pleases them that the abuser is doing what they'd secretly wish to do themselves? Perhaps there are no rules, and a myriad of possible reasons. I'm particularly interested in any references to published thoughts on research on this matter, if anyone has it.

(Apologies to mods if this topic has already been opened somewhere - I looked and haven't seen it.)
 
I’m coming to realise, I think, that the enablers are narcissistic themselves so want to be on the side of power and have no empathy. I think that is the case I’m experiencing anyways.

Great point. I had that at the back of my mind, but you named it. Thank you.

What exactly do you think is narcissistic about it? Is that the same as selfish, or a bit different?
 
Great point. I had that at the back of my mind, but you named it. Thank you.

What exactly do you think is narcissistic about it? Is that the same as selfish, or a bit different?
I can only speak from my experience. And this is a question I've been asking myself.
The enablers in my situation (my dad and sister) refuse to allow me the reality of what happened and refuse to allow me space to have any sort of feelings about what happened. So they emotionally abuse me like the original person (my mum) as she does all that. And my mum must be narcissistic. It's more than being selfish. I view selfishness as a thing that can be changed if the person realises it is a selfish act. And the way people realise that is by understanding the impact that behaviour has on the other person, and cares about that, and then thinks they can do better so change that behaviour.
But also, one person's selfish is another person's asserting themselves.
But narcissistic behaviour is crazy making. It's changing reality. It's being clever with making the person feel they are wrong, their perception of reality is wrong. Which ever angle the person comes act, there is a way of manipulating it back on to them. Crazy making.
And the enablers follow that.
There is no empathy at all on the impact. The emotional state of the person they are abusing is of no concern of theirs at all. Or if it is, it's entertainment and delight that their behaviour causes distress.

I don't know if I am explaining it correctly.
 
I can only speak from my experience. And this is a question I've been asking myself.
The enablers in my situation (my dad and sister) refuse to allow me the reality of what happened and refuse to allow me space to have any sort of feelings about what happened. So they emotionally abuse me like the original person (my mum) as she does all that. And my mum must be narcissistic. It's more than being selfish. I view selfishness as a thing that can be changed if the person realises it is a selfish act. And the way people realise that is by understanding the impact that behaviour has on the other person, and cares about that, and then thinks they can do better so change that behaviour.
But also, one person's selfish is another person's asserting themselves.
But narcissistic behaviour is crazy making. It's changing reality. It's being clever with making the person feel they are wrong, their perception of reality is wrong. Which ever angle the person comes act, there is a way of manipulating it back on to them. Crazy making.
And the enablers follow that.
There is no empathy at all on the impact. The emotional state of the person they are abusing is of no concern of theirs at all. Or if it is, it's entertainment and delight that their behaviour causes distress.

I don't know if I am explaining it correctly.

Yes you have perfectly explained what you happened to you. I think it's good that you are illustrating it so clearly.

I'm really interested about words and the terminology we use. I think some people mean or understand different things to others when using some words. For example I get the impression that selfish, arrogant, egocentric, egotistical, egoistic, vain, attention-seeking, megalomaniacal, narcissistic are all a bit blurred together in my mind.

Reading your account I would first say it seems your mother was manipulative and cruel, and your father was negligent and therefore cruel. From this paragraph you've written I wouldn't automatically think of narcissism.

In my mind, wrongly or rightly, I associate narcissism with a need for validation from creating an illusory world that reflects back that need.

So a grandiose narcissist might show up late because they get a power kick out of seeing the people waiting for them, seeing that those people wanted them at least enough to want them to show up on time.

Or a vulnerable narcissist might complain about being taken advantage of after doing a load of chores that nobody asked them to do, so they can get a power kick out of positioning themselves as a victim of people around them, perhaps to get their reassurance.

Both cases are delusions of grandeur. I would guess both are based on deep insecurity, possibly stemming from not feeling loved enough as a child. I don't yet see how your enabler father and sister were narcissists too. Could it be that they felt rewarded by your mother for letting her play out her game of mistreating you?
 
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this enabler of a 43 year old homeless crackhead son will only speak from her strictly personal experience while shouldering the blame wrapped names i am called by the readers of scholarly articles. as of our last conversation in 2017, my son prefers, "toxic mom," but any name will do. the readers of scholarly articles can probably update me on the latest, greatest name for mentally ill parents. my self-esteem can't handle doing my own research on that one.

why do i do it? because i am sick. sick people do sick things.
dare i harbor healing hopes? do i deserve healing hopes?
i certainly harbor no hopes of forgiveness from the 43 year old man whose life i ruined.
why can't i bring myself to wish i had opted for abortion?
 
this enabler of a 43 year old homeless crackhead son will only speak from her strictly personal experience while shouldering the blame wrapped names i am called by the readers of scholarly articles. as of our last conversation in 2017, my son prefers, "toxic mom," but any name will do. the readers of scholarly articles can probably update me on the latest, greatest name for mentally ill parents. my self-esteem can't handle doing my own research on that one.

why do i do it? because i am sick. sick people do sick things.
dare i harbor healing hopes? do i deserve healing hopes?
i certainly harbor no hopes of forgiveness from the 43 year old man whose life i ruined.
why can't i bring myself to wish i had opted for abortion?

My gut reaction:

You love your son.
 
I think this is looking at it too basically.

Some people enable abuse because to leave, might mean leaving their child at the mercy of the abusive partner on 50/50 custody. Maybe it’s more dangerous to leave than stay. Maybe the abuse crept up on them so slowly that they are unable to realise it, or are now so broken they are unable to get out. Maybe they don’t see it as abuse - accounting for cultural differences in raising children, or how you treat women or or or or.

Maybe some of them don’t get anything out of it. As a basic example, if you took someone being abused in the street, how many perfectly good people would enable it to continue, by walking past and pretending they didn’t see it rather than getting involved.
 
I think this is looking at it too basically.

Some people enable abuse because to leave, might mean leaving their child at the mercy of the abusive partner on 50/50 custody. Maybe it’s more dangerous to leave than stay. Maybe the abuse crept up on them so slowly that they are unable to realise it, or are now so broken they are unable to get out. Maybe they don’t see it as abuse - accounting for cultural differences in raising children, or how you treat women or or or or.

Maybe some of them don’t get anything out of it. As a basic example, if you took someone being abused in the street, how many perfectly good people would enable it to continue, by walking past and pretending they didn’t see it rather than getting involved.

Wise words. Thank you.
 
I think some are scared and/ or cowards. If they confront the abuser, the abuse will probably be directed at them.

Some of it is probably "learned helplessness" and they are convinced that they are helpless and that nothing they could do would be able to stop the abuser.

Some people enable abuse because to leave, might mean leaving their child at the mercy of the abusive partner on 50/50 custody. Maybe it’s more dangerous to leave than stay. Maybe the abuse crept up on them so slowly that they are unable to realise it, or are now so broken they are unable to get out.
And this too, yeah.

Or denial (huge issue).

As well as what others have said.

Some enablers are just as evil/ sadistic as the abuser.
 
I can only speak from my experience. And this is a question I've been asking myself.
The enablers in my situation (my dad and sister) refuse to allow me the reality of what happened and refuse to allow me space to have any sort of feelings about what happened. So they emotionally abuse me like the original person (my mum) as she does all that. And my mum must be narcissistic. It's more than being selfish. I view selfishness as a thing that can be changed if the person realises it is a selfish act. And the way people realise that is by understanding the impact that behaviour has on the other person, and cares about that, and then thinks they can do better so change that behaviour.
But also, one person's selfish is another person's asserting themselves.
But narcissistic behaviour is crazy making. It's changing reality. It's being clever with making the person feel they are wrong, their perception of reality is wrong. Which ever angle the person comes act, there is a way of manipulating it back on to them. Crazy making.
And the enablers follow that.
There is no empathy at all on the impact. The emotional state of the person they are abusing is of no concern of theirs at all. Or if it is, it's entertainment and delight that their behaviour causes distress.

I don't know if I am explaining it correctly.
That’s one of the best explanations I’ve heard personally!
 
In my experience? The people who enabled my abuse had simply bought into the narrative that justified the abuse. Nothing more complicated than that.

They were not particularly unwell, they were not always victims of abuse themselves, they were not particularly narcissistic. They just bought the narrative that I deserved/needed to be treated that way.
 
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