SurvivingInfidelity.com Forums
Reconciliation
User Topic: Victim/Perpetrator Model of Infidelity
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 6:45 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Alright ya'll, hold on to your hats -- this might get thorny.

I was reading a thread on General this weekend about a therapist who everyone decided was a crackpot. This MC had sent emails to a BS trying to convince her to come back to therapy, and gave some advice that seems to run very counter to prevailing sentiment, at least in parts of SI. I think this therapist was unanimously shot down by the folks over there, but what he said really got me thinking.

One of his major points was that as long as the BS chose to see herself as 100% the victim, and her husband as 100% the perpetrator, that true understanding and reconciliation was not possible. He indicated that while her husband was 100% responsible for his actions, that getting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitely was going to keep her from meeting him in the space between them where they could learn to communicate better. The therapist did have some strong opinions about communication issues being the root of adultery, which also goes against this idea here that there is a flawed perpetrator on the loose, and we have to just locate and excise the bad from the WS, and everything should all be a-ok.

But my sneaking suspicion, is that this is not the full picture. And, that I as a BS can get so caught up in my (understandable) hurt, that I fail to see reality.

One example is when I trigger. I had a bad one the other night in cycling class when I heard a song, and I remembered something from "way back" that caused me to wonder if the seeds of infidelity had been there all along, and I had just missed them. I was triggering hard, so I was in full-flight panic mode, and in those moments, my husband is nothing but a villain. It is like I have seen a charging lion in the jungle, and I act accordingly. Rageful, accusatory and damn near feral. It is like blakesteele's silverback gorilla example, girl-version.

So, my point is, my husband did a cowardly, ignorant, selfish and hurtful thing during his affair. But, I am starting to question this notion of him being a perpetrator. And, when I get stuck in thinking that he did this infidelity "to" me, instead of despite me, I can get in a very powerful feedback loop that is so unproductive and destructive. All this time my H has been saying it was not a choice between AP and me, and he wasn't thinking of me much at all -- (yes, horrible.) He wasn't, and yes that was partly a symptom of his shortcomings, but also a symptom of a bad place in our marriage, where we had grown apart. It does not excuse it, but it does partly explain it.

So, I have just been working on this idea lately - that I am not a victim. I feel incredibly hurt by what my husband did, but as this therapist said to the BS, if you see yourself as the victim then you don't really have any power. All the power would be the wayward's, and that doesn't sit right with me. It also personalizes the affair against me in a way I really don't think it was in reality. I do think it was done despite me, not to me.

However, it is still mind boggling to me how something that was not done to me can hurt so terribly. So, I am not minimizing anyone's pain, or letting WSes off the hook. But, in healing, I am wondering if walking away from the victim/perpetrator model isn't perhaps the best idea.


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
karmahappens
Member
Member # 35846
Default  Posted: 6:54 PM, February 24th (Monday)

It's very needed IMO.

I came to terms with the fact that what my husband did he did to himself. I was initially damaged because of his actions but I didn't allow his choices to define me or determine my healing.

[This message edited by karmahappens at 6:55 PM, February 24th (Monday)]


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Anaďs Nin
Me: 45
Him: 47
Dday 8/2007
We have R'd

Posts: 3793 | Registered: Jun 2012 | From: Massachusetts
steadfast1973
Member
Member # 24719
Default  Posted: 7:00 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I am in the "he did it despite me" train of thought, myself. I wasn't even part of the equation in his mind... Didn't think it would affect me at all.


Me- 40- BS Him- 36- WH D-day#1 5/25/09 3 mo. EA d-day#2 11/06/13 Prostitute 11/5/13 in R
"I've seen your flag on the marble arch, our love is not a victory march, it's a cold and broken hallelujah."- Leonard Cohen

Posts: 2256 | Registered: Jul 2009 | From: Midwest
KatyaCA
Member
Member # 41528
Default  Posted: 7:02 PM, February 24th (Monday)

It really depends on each individual circumstance but in some cases the BS is really collateral damage and not the intended target of the WS's affair. It wasn't something they did to hurt their spouse but they blew up a bomb in their life and the BS and child(ren) get shredded by the shrapnel.

So in a sense for some cases you have a valid point. That said, a BS needing a WS to be 100% accountable for the choice they made to cheat is not about being the victim. It's about refusing to be victimized by a lie. I refuse to take blame that is not mine to own and it is time for you to own your own actions. PERIOD!

I don't want to be with a man who won't man up and take responsibility for his own actions, whatever they may be. That does not make me stuck in a victim role. In fact, I think a BS standing up for him or herself this way is actually quite empowering.

They've been the recipient most of the time of
1. lying
2. gaslighting
3. blame
4. alienation of affection
5. betrayal

and others that don't come to mind off the top of my head. There is nothing wrong with saying NO MORE! OWN YOUR SHIT OR WE ARE DONE! and there is no being a victim in that.

The problem here is her counselor wants to consider her requirement of making him own his shame/actions/dishonor as her being a victim. He's a terrible and biased therapist and should not be an MC.


Posts: 63 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Pacific Northwest
peoplepleaser
Member
Member # 41535
Default  Posted: 7:08 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Yes, it feels like they did this to us, and the repercussions are in fact that they did bring upon us humiliation and a lack of confidence and security in the relationship. I believe that we must, however, understand that we were not a part of their decision making process. It was definitely something broken in then that had nothing to so with us that made cheating a viable option at that time in our relationship with them. That does not mean that we aren't responsible for our choices in how we move forward with them in order to heal ourselves, them and our relationship.

As I move forward and struggle even with my WS's lack of remorse, I find myself stepping out of my pain from time to time just enough to realize that if this good person who I love dearly was able to do what she did, she must truly be broken. As part of my vow to her as a partner, that I renewed implicitly when I decided to R, I owe her and myself compassion for her having been in that space regardless of who is to blame for her being there (both FOOs and how our communication styles interact). It's not that there aren't consequences for her selfish decision to have the As, but the natural consequences of having to rebuild trust, sit in our pain and endure our anger and sadness from triggers might be enough depending on the situation. I'm starting to understand that those consequences bring on enough shame and guilt that removing compassion for the brokenness of the WS is not only unnecessary, but creates a barrier to healing together. Ultimately I love her. Not even in spite of her flaws, because it's our greatest strengths that are also our biggest weaknesses. If I can't find compassion for how she felt in the relationship at the time of the EAs and for how she feels now with them exposed to the last person she wanted to see her at her worst, then I am abandoning my own integrity as a loving partner.

Thank you so much for this post, as it caused me to think more deeply about how this journey when taken together must look different than the journey taken alone.


WS: 39--2 EAs
BS: 39--me, faithful
DS: 6
9 year relationship in R.
DDay #1: September 6, 2013 EA for 5 weeks August 2013.
DDay #2: January 2, 2014 EA for 6 weeks summer 2011.
"I am still learning." -Michelangelo

Posts: 565 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Midwest
mchercheur
Member
Member # 37735
Default  Posted: 7:09 PM, February 24th (Monday)

All this time my H has been saying it was not a choice between AP and me, and he wasn't thinking of me much at all -- (yes, horrible.) He wasn't, and yes that was partly a symptom of his shortcomings, but also a symptom of a bad place in our marriage, where we had grown apart. It does not excuse it, but it does partly explain it.

I could have written this word for word. My WH said the exact same thing.
The thing is, I have never made a decision in our entire relationship without considering how it would affect him first.
Did WH perpetrate an act by deciding to have an A?
Well, he ended our marriage.

Did OW perpetrate an act against me by deciding to pursue & have an A with WH? Yes, she stole from me.


together 25 yrs, married 24 yrs, 4 children;Rebuilding
D Day: 5/10/2011 PA
OW: WH's co-worker,divorced, no children, 20 yrs younger than I-----& she knew he was married, had met our kids, but that did not stop her from trying to destroy our family

Posts: 1364 | Registered: Dec 2012
Kyrie
Member
Member # 41825
Default  Posted: 7:16 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Dr. Steven Stosny is my go-to guy on this subject. He has helped me immensely with moving away from a victim identity to a healing identity. He says,
People with healing identities focus on their resilience, strengths, and desire to improve their lives. They do not give in to thoughts of damage, unfairness, bad moods, blame, or victim identity. They certainly have such thoughts and are occasionally engulfed by the power of them, but for the most part they resist the impulse to indulge them. Instead, they keep focused on their desire to heal and improve.
(taken from one of his blog posts on Psychology Today)

His book Living and Loving After Betrayal was extremely helpful to me in making this transition from victim to healing. The book provides a lot of exercises to help you through the process.

Once I identified those things that are at the heart of my value system, I learned to change my thought processes. So when those triggers hit hard, I found myself responding differently. This was huge in facilitating healing.


Me: BW (47), WH (48)
Married 24 yrs, 2 teenagers
DD#1 01.20.12 When diagnosed w/STD
Told it was 15 mo. PA that ended 6 years ago
DD#2 04.06.14 Truth: PA was 2yrs/8mo
Separated for 6 weeks
Reconciling and healing now

Posts: 192 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: southeast USA
rachelc
Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 7:22 PM, February 24th (Monday)

There is nothing wrong with saying NO MORE! OWN YOUR SHIT OR WE ARE DONE! and there is no being a victim in that.

this....

I know (believe me I do, because I'm a former ww) that it isn't about the BS, its about the broken wayward spouse and the BS is collateral damage.
Thing is, where is the line? It could be argued that the spouse who beats the other spouse is simply broken and acting out. They didn't really mean to hurt them, they are in so much pain themselves that this is how they cope, or lack thereof...

my husband was in pain and had two affairs. He did it because he felt like shit about himself. So, stay married because HE was in pain and couldn't handle it? There has to be some cognizance happening in an affair - we all make choices - but to read it as if the WS couldn't help themselves. Answering as a wayward, oh yes I could. And I did it anyway.
Sorry, I revealed my thorns here.
But, good topic.



his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...


Posts: 4786 | Registered: Dec 2010
Hosea
Member
Member # 42422
Default  Posted: 7:23 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Bionicgal:

Adultery, once brought to light, is such an overwhelming traumatic experience for the Betrayed Spouse that I can't help but consider them victims.

I've read interviews with women who had experienced rape / sexual trauma earlier in their lives, then later experienced adultery as a Betrayed Spouse. They viewed the adultery as far more traumatizing. Men who experienced the loss of a limb in war, then later endured a wife's affair, considered the adultery the more traumatizing loss.

Waywards aren't usually making calculated attempts to inflict devastating pain on their Betrayed by having an affair. In that sense, they are perhaps unwitting Perpetrators. The fact that they could behave so selfishly and recklessly is part of what makes the pain all the more cruel.

What I will concede is that there can not be real reconciliation if the two parties remain in their respective positions as Victim and Perpetrator.

The Wayward must become Healer (among other things), and the Betrayed must become Forgiver. It's very, very difficult for the two parties to transition to the roles in lockstep, or quickly.

Waywards are often in the Affair Fog, doling out Tickle Truth, prolonging the suffering of the spouses they should be focused on healing.

Betrayed Spouses find forgiveness a Herculean labor. New truths surface that revictimize them. Triggers explode constantly around them, despite their desperate attempts to find some place to hide from future injury.

These factors-- Affair Fog/Tickle Truth (for Waywards) and Triggers/etc. (for Betrayeds)-- tend to keep prolong the agonies and reinforce the Victim/Perpetrator relationship for a painfully long time.

In my view, this is why it's so very important for the Wayward seeking reconciliation to absolutely seize the opportunity to be the Healer. If the Betrayed Spouse finds the strength, in their agonizing pain, to be a Forgiver, then the Wayward should move heaven and earth to protect the fragility of their Betrayed.

In the end, however long it takes, the two parties need to love each other out of their former Victim/Perpetrator roles. It's often as hard to do this as it was easy to fall in love, but when it finally happens, the two have a chance to know a love that is deeper than they ever understood.

It's the kind of selfless love that keeps no record of wrongdoing. It's the kind of love that dies completely to self. It's the kind of love Jesus spoke about when he said, "Greater love knoweth no person than he (or she) that lays down his(or her) life for a friend."


John 8:10-11: "Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Did they not condemn you?”

“No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”


Posts: 106 | Registered: Feb 2014
mchercheur
Member
Member # 37735
Default  Posted: 7:25 PM, February 24th (Monday)

People with healing identities focus on their resilience, strengths, and desire to improve their lives. They do not give in to thoughts of damage, unfairness, bad moods, blame, or victim identity. They certainly have such thoughts and are occasionally engulfed by the power of them, but for the most part they resist the impulse to indulge them. Instead, they keep focused on their desire to heal and improve.

Kyrie, love this^^^^^. Thanks
Hosea----excellent. I plan to show your post to WH

[This message edited by mchercheur at 9:11 PM, February 24th (Monday)]


together 25 yrs, married 24 yrs, 4 children;Rebuilding
D Day: 5/10/2011 PA
OW: WH's co-worker,divorced, no children, 20 yrs younger than I-----& she knew he was married, had met our kids, but that did not stop her from trying to destroy our family

Posts: 1364 | Registered: Dec 2012
rachelc
Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 7:26 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Hosea, I'm printing that off = outstanding.
and speaking from experience:

I've read interviews with women who had experienced rape / sexual trauma earlier in their lives, then later experienced adultery as a Betrayed Spouse. They viewed the adultery as far more traumatizing.

10 times worse.


his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...


Posts: 4786 | Registered: Dec 2010
SisterMilkshake
Member
Member # 30024
Default  Posted: 7:30 PM, February 24th (Monday)

To me, infidelity is a form of domestic abuse. If you agree that infidelity is a form of abuse, then you are a victim. There is a difference in acknowledging that you have been victimized by betrayal and wallowing in the victim identity. It would be unfair, in my opinion, for you all to go into the JFO forum and tell these newly betrayed spouses that they aren't victims. I feel that wouldn't be helpful at all to the newly betrayed. It is a "feeling" that I think most newly betrayed need to feel and process. Then you move forward from there.

I do not consider my self a victim any longer. I only felt like that for a brief time. It isn't in my personality to stay in victim mode. But, even the name of this wonderful site implies we are victims. If you are surviving something, it is usually a situation in which you were victimized. I have a thing about words and I like to look at definitions of words. Here is the definition of victim.

vic·tim noun \ˈvik-təm
: a person who has been attacked, injured, robbed, or killed by someone else

: a person who is cheated or fooled by someone else

: someone or something that is harmed by an unpleasant event (such as an illness or accident)

I don't know about you, but this sure sounds like what happened to me.

[This message edited by SisterMilkshake at 7:35 PM, February 24th (Monday)]


BW (me) 50ish FWH 50ish
Married 34 years, 3 children
d-day 3/10 LTA (4 yrs./fucking & flirting)

"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson


Posts: 9548 | Registered: Nov 2010 | From: The Great White North USA
karmahappens
Member
Member # 35846
Default  Posted: 7:46 PM, February 24th (Monday)

It would be unfair, in my opinion, for you all to go into the JFO forum and tell these newly betrayed spouses that they aren't victims. I feel that wouldn't be helpful at all to the newly betrayed. It is a "feeling" that I think most newly betrayed need to feel and process. Then you move forward from there.

But we are in the R forum, not JFO.

I believe it is a point you get to, an acceptance and understanding that it wasn't "about" me at all.


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Anaďs Nin
Me: 45
Him: 47
Dday 8/2007
We have R'd

Posts: 3793 | Registered: Jun 2012 | From: Massachusetts
TheGarden
Member
Member # 40788
Default  Posted: 7:52 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I'm still thinking about the overall concept of this question, but I wanted to say something in particular about that post in General:

I don't think it's fair or warranted to take the therapist's assertion at face value that IvyIvy (the BS in question) was choosing to see herself 100% as a victim forever and ever to the detriment of the remainder of her years on this earth. Nothing she has said about her situation thus far has struck me as being anything other than the typical newly betrayed spouse mentality, which (IMO) is a completely understandable place to be in after experiencing the shock and betrayal of infidelity.

People have a right to have negative emotions about infidelity, having negative emotions about infidelity is not a sign of pathology nor are they inappropriate, and it takes a LONG time to stop feeling negative about infidelity. I think it's completely inappropriate for anyone, either a layperson or a therapist (who in this case talked to IvyIvy for a whopping 2 sessions), to make judgments about someone's commitment to a "victim mentality" based on new- BS negative affect, much less that person's likely permanent future or the future of their marriage. She's upset, she's angry, she's sad, and she's questioning reality and whether she wants to stay with someone who didn't treat her very well. IMO, completely normal. Not the same thing as "choosing to see herself 100% as the victim".

And frankly, I do kind of feel that a MC demanding that a newly betrayed BS focus on examining their own part in a failed marriage is a painful and inappropriate slap in the face, and smacks a bit of "take responsibility for your Wayward's choices". Maybe he didn't mean it that way, but it definitely came across that way to me to some degree, and he isn't even my MC.


Me: BW, 39, Him: WH, 43; married 9 years, together 13 years
DDay:July 2013; EA progressing to a PA
APs: ex-"friend" & her enabling polyamorous husband
Status: Dual-income-no-kids, 2 cats, taking it day-by-day, married till we're not

Posts: 60 | Registered: Sep 2013 | From: Florida
Tearsoflove
Member
Member # 8271
Default  Posted: 7:54 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Thing is, where is the line? It could be argued that the spouse who beats the other spouse is simply broken and acting out. They didn't really mean to hurt them, they are in so much pain themselves that this is how they cope, or lack thereof...

I agree. The drunk driver who killed my husband's father didn't set out to kill him. And he didn't set out to injure the family who loved and depended on him in the process. Yet that was the end result. Regardless of the eventual outcome, they were all his victims despite the fact that they were not for one moment in his thoughts prior to his having gotten on the road. And he is no less guilty of being the perpetrator because, whether or not he hoped otherwise, he knew that drinking and driving had the potential to hurt himself and others.

While I have no doubt that my husband didn't set out to hurt me, he knew when he engaged in extramarital affairs that it had great potential to do so. He weighed that out and chose to do it anyway. That makes him the perpetrator regardless of his reasons. The fact that I was hurt made me the victim whether or not that hurt was intended or even whether or not I was the intended victim. Just because a target wasn't painted on my chest doesn't change the trajectory of the missile into my life.

I do not believe that I have remained in some "victim mode" just because I see it that way. Just because I feel my husband perpetrated wrongs against me doesn't mean that I view him as a perpetual perpetrator nor myself as a perpetual victim. And given the fact that we have recovered exceptionally well and have a happier marriage than we ever have is a pretty good indication that there is no one way to view this. My husband's ability to view the damage he caused and show true remorse while developing a plan to avoid future similar behavior was a critical factor in our moving above the perpetrator/victim roles. I do not believe we would have successfully reconciled had we glossed over the affair or even made it secondary to marital issues given the betrayal and the level of pain it caused. That wasn't me being stuck in "victim" mode, it was me having to work through the trauma and get reassurance that I was safe with my husband.

Personally, I think the focus on the victim/perpetrator is overblown. We're all human and we, therefore, make mistakes, act selfishly, and sometimes hurt others without meaning to. The fact is when you hurt someone you love, you show genuine remorse. And when you are hurt by someone you love, forgiveness is easier when true remorse is shown. So, to me, the debate over perpetrator/victim is actually a bunch of useless drivel. What really matters is whether or not the definition of remorse matches for all parties. In the case you brought from the other thread, I'd have to say it doesn't because if the BS felt she was getting what she needed from the WS, the therapist wouldn't be stuck on her believing herself to be 100% victim. The fact is, the woman no longer feels safe in her marriage and that's not going to change without some action on the part of the WS regardless of what labels the therapist tacks to them.

[This message edited by Tearsoflove at 7:56 PM, February 24th (Monday)]


"Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand." ~Homer Simpson


Posts: 4033 | Registered: Sep 2005
SisterMilkshake
Member
Member # 30024
Default  Posted: 8:00 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I don't know if you are agreeing or disagreeing, karma. I know we are in the R forum, and I would be advising anyone in R that they need to get out of victim mode. (unless they have jfo)

My point is, that as a newly betrayed spouse that you not only feel like a victim but you are a victim. It does more harm than good to be telling newly betrayed spouses that they aren't victims and that if they stay in that mindset they and their marriage won't heal. (Which is what this MC was telling a fairly new BW.) It is something you must process. Whether it was about "you" or not, you can still be a victim.

Whether or not it was about me, I was still victimized by my FWH's infidelity. I don't identify myself as a victim, I identify myself as a survivor of infidelity.


BW (me) 50ish FWH 50ish
Married 34 years, 3 children
d-day 3/10 LTA (4 yrs./fucking & flirting)

"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson


Posts: 9548 | Registered: Nov 2010 | From: The Great White North USA
karmahappens
Member
Member # 35846
Default  Posted: 8:04 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Sorry SMS I think I was missing your point. I should have gone to bed hours ago...

I do agree with you.


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
Anaďs Nin
Me: 45
Him: 47
Dday 8/2007
We have R'd

Posts: 3793 | Registered: Jun 2012 | From: Massachusetts
SisterMilkshake
Member
Member # 30024
Default  Posted: 8:10 PM, February 24th (Monday)


BW (me) 50ish FWH 50ish
Married 34 years, 3 children
d-day 3/10 LTA (4 yrs./fucking & flirting)

"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson


Posts: 9548 | Registered: Nov 2010 | From: The Great White North USA
catatonic
Member
Member # 40758
Default  Posted: 8:28 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Excellent post. What a wealth of knowledge. I really appreciate all the insights. And it's great healing " food for thought".
I do agree with "sister milkshake " If I was asked.. "is it ok, If I sleep with someone, I'm not happy right now, can you fill in the void with the kids so they don't feel neglected. It's just sex, so it shouldn't affect you. Then I had a choice. Both WH and OW victimized me. How I respond to that and recovery from that is my choice.

Posts: 113 | Registered: Sep 2013
StillGoing
Member
Member # 28571
Default  Posted: 8:45 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I think the victim thing gets pigeonholed.

I was victimized in school, a lot. I was "A VICTIM."

That didn't make me powerless. I fought back. Most of the time I just got my ass kicked brutally by a dozen people at the same time; I felt alone and angry and frustrated, but the idea that I was powerless never really entered the equation. Even in elementary school it became a matter of surviving until I could act. Biding time, as it were.

Victims aren't powerless. Nor do people stay victims forever. Yeah, my wife did horrible shit to me *and* in spite of me. We have done a lot of work on that stuff. Same with the horrible shit I dumped on her.

I guess a lot of this comes down to the idea that early on, a BS needs to know this isn't his fault. He didn't make her go there and make those choices. In that circumstance, blame does need assignation, because it properly denotes responsibility.

Later on, it doesn't necessarily equate to a lingering bitterness. The idea that at some point, a BS needs to own something in the relationship whenever the topic of infidelity is brought up or else it's a Blame Game is counterproductive to me. I have compared the two before - alcoholics don't go to the relationship communication discussion. DV doesn't go there. gaming, theft, various amoral activities that operate within a relationship to fill some perceived hole at the expense of those around - these are things that need addressed and resolved because they contribute problems to the relationship. Infidelity is the same thing.

There are a lot of models to apply to the concept of victim/perpetrator. A continuous cycle is only one of them.


“Fate is a fickle bitch who dotes on irony.”

Posts: 7431 | Registered: May 2010 | From: USA
NoGoodUsername
Member
Member # 40181
Default  Posted: 9:29 PM, February 24th (Monday)

One thing that I see as a barrier to understanding in this conversation is that we aren't differentiating between the concept of Victim/Perpetrator as an event or action versus these things as an identity.


As a Wayward, acknowledging that I was the perpetrator of infidelity along with the whole package of bad behaviors that go with it is essential in the process of atonement.
Maintaining the identity of perpetrator will be hurtful to my long-term healing as it will get in the way of becoming a healthy person.

The same concept is true of the Betrayed side as well. They need to acknowledge that they were victimized and take practical steps in dealing with that, including assigning blame where it belongs, but maintaining an identity of victimhood is an unhelpful burden in healing.


Me: WH
Her: BW
Dday 7/11/13
"May you be protected from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise and eyes that have forgotten how to cry."

Posts: 236 | Registered: Aug 2013
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 9:33 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I am so amazed at the thoughtful responses to this from so many vantage points.

Hosea, I was particularly moved by your post -- I may have to refine how I look at this based on what you said and a couple others echoed. . . one may start from the vantage point of feeling like a victim, but to heal some movement away is necessary.

Kyrie - I have that book, and will spend some time with it soon.

And peoplepleaser, this resonanted with me:

it's our greatest strengths that are also our biggest weaknesses. If I can't find compassion for how she felt in the relationship at the time of the EAs and for how she feels now with them exposed to the last person she wanted to see her at her worst, then I am abandoning my own integrity as a loving partner.

And so many others that I haven't singled out.


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
peoplepleaser
Member
Member # 41535
Default  Posted: 10:01 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I think it's the power of language that's become the debate here.

I agree that when you first find out, when one is raped, beaten or emotionally abused they are victims. In every case the victim is collateral damage of another person acting out their aggression without thought of the person they perpetrate against. It is helpful in the beginning stages if healing to embrace being the custom because it's part of realizing that you did nothing to deserve that treatment by another person, especially when it's from someone who professed to love, care and emotionally protect you. There is no justification good enough to excuse violating another, physically or emotionally.

I also agree that a therapist suggesting early on in the process of addressing trauma that the be violated remove their identity as a victim can be damaging. In the early work toward addressing trauma it can disrupt the realization that the victim is not to blame and has no culpability in the choice another person made to violate them. Problems in a marriage don't warrant abuse in any way, including an A.

As progress is made to move forward from the trauma, however, continuing to embrace victimhood impedes the progress of the survivor by creating barriers to understanding that they possess the power to respond to the trauma in ways that take back the power stolen from them by the abuse. By shifting one's identity from victim to survivor one can then move toward healing whether it's in the relationship or out if it. There are many ways to take that back.

I choose to not sacrifice my integrity as a way to take that back. For me that means that I made a choice to R when my WS met my requirements for R. It means that through R I choose to be compassionate for her process of self discovery as she moves toward meeting mine to heal in the relationship. It's not easy and I never thought I would choose to R. Every person and every situation will have different ways of surviving, though.


WS: 39--2 EAs
BS: 39--me, faithful
DS: 6
9 year relationship in R.
DDay #1: September 6, 2013 EA for 5 weeks August 2013.
DDay #2: January 2, 2014 EA for 6 weeks summer 2011.
"I am still learning." -Michelangelo

Posts: 565 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: Midwest
HardenMyHeart
Member
Member # 15902
Default  Posted: 10:10 PM, February 24th (Monday)

One of his major points was that as long as the BS chose to see herself as 100% the victim, and her husband as 100% the perpetrator, that true understanding and reconciliation was not possible. He indicated that while her husband was 100% responsible for his actions, that getting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitely was going to keep her from meeting him in the space between them where they could learn to communicate better. The therapist did have some strong opinions about communication issues being the root of adultery,

I have been saying similar things on SI for years. Our suffering, infidelity or otherwise, is caused by our own thoughts and attitudes. Once you start to blame others or your circumstances for your own suffering, you give away your ability to heal. Conversely, once you realize you are 100% in control of your own happiness, through your thoughts and attitude, you become the master of your emotions and feelings.

Loving-kindness and compassion can overcome anger and anguish, if you give them a chance. If you have a truly remorseful WS, the best thing you can do for R is to show your WS even more love and understanding. These are the tools that are needed to start building true emotional intimacy (communication) in the relationship.


Me: BH, Her: FWW - Long Term EA/PA
d-day: June 25, 2007
Married 30 years, Reconciled

Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.


Posts: 5641 | Registered: Aug 2007
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 10:14 PM, February 24th (Monday)

Not to t/j my own thread, but I struggle with the abuse analogy as well. A person who strikes their spouse has taken hurtful action against them, and no matter what their FOO, rationalizations, etc., I see that as abuse.

And while the waywards actions cause extreme pain to a BS, they are actually not directed at the BS, and the damage is really only theoretical when they are doing it. To me, it is more akin to being married to an alcoholic. They are abusing themselves, and the resulting behavior may be intolerable to a spouse, or painful to the spouse, but it is not necessarily abusive to the spouse.

Don't get me wrong - this is the most painful thing that has ever happened to me, but I struggle with the abuse analogy because I fundamentally don't see it as being done to me. Certainly individual cases vary, as lying and gaslighting and emotional abuse can go on with affairs. My H was distant and cold and easily angered during the affair -- he was neglectful. But was he abusive? I am not sure that I feel that he was. Abuse is a strong word.

But honestly, I suppose if it were to (god forbid) happen again, with my H knowing what he knows now about the damage it caused, and understanding more how he got in the mess, then perhaps yes -- I could see that being more like abuse because he has full knowledge of the extremity of the pain.

[This message edited by bionicgal at 10:17 PM, February 24th (Monday)]


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 10:20 PM, February 24th (Monday)

HMH:

If you have a truly remorseful WS, the best thing you can do for R is to show your WS even more love and understanding. These are the tools that are needed to start building true emotional intimacy (communication) in the relationship.

I have found this to be 100% true in my case, and it has made be feel like less of a victim. I decided to act in accordance with my values, and if we didn't end up in R, well then at least I gave it my most authentic shot.

I also feel that my H and I are closer than we have ever been.

May it be sustainable and true. . .

[This message edited by bionicgal at 10:23 PM, February 24th (Monday)]


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
LiedtoLucy
Member
Member # 39246
Flame  Posted: 10:26 PM, February 24th (Monday)

I have heard the lines "it wasn't about you" and " I didn't even think about what it would do to you" from my FWH.

IMO this is completely false. He was thinking about me enough to come up with the lies to cover himself. Every single time he lied to me he KNEW he was lying and if he didn't think that his A would hurt me...why lie?

I feel like 4 years of my life was stolen. I was pregnant with two of his babies during the A. I was miserably tired and wished so many times that he were there with me..helping me be a parent and taking care of me in general as his pregnant wife. But his story was he had to work as much overtime as possible so he could support us. Mind you, I was working full time as well. Turns out a lot of his OT turned out to be OW time which still really stings.

Sister Milkshake- I 100% agree with your definition of victim. And I do feel like a victim. I think when the WS starts to show remorse that it is possible to break out of the victim mindset. I don't think it makes you a victim forever you can over come it with or without your WS. I also think that your WS admitting that they victimized you and really understanding that they did is the first step to breaking out of the victim bs perpetrator mode and very important for R. And in my case, unfortunately, the WS is not ready to admit that.

So yeah. Maybe he didn't have an affair because of me...but he knew exactly how much it would hurt me or he wouldn't have continuously lied to me for 4 years and treated me like his babysitter and housekeeper. I get that he was too selfish to care if it hurt me at the time, but so what? Does it hurt me any less... Nope.


LTL

Me: BS
Him: WH
OW=UW or Ugly Whore- cow of WH
UW claims to be pregnant w/ WH baby and I HATE her for it.
DDay: 4/23/13
Together: 14 years
Married: 10 years
Kids: 3 beautiful boys. Ages: 8, 4, & 19 months
Trying to R-Some days are


Posts: 173 | Registered: May 2013 | From: Southeastern U.S.
rachelc
Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 6:13 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

I don't know bionicgal - It may be easier to recover from a marital wound had he punched me in the face twice. At least that wasn't done behind my back. And I really agree with you that someone who has more than one affair is abusing their partner - big time.


his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...


Posts: 4786 | Registered: Dec 2010
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 6:53 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Lied toLucy,
It helped me one day to realize that really, my H had perhaps even more directly hurt the AP than me. My hurts are lies and betrayal, all awful but kind of indirect. However he allowed her to do things that directly affected her security, and let her take actions that hurt her husband and her two kids. He put her in a position where she could have faced public disapproval, and even gotten pregnant while married to another man. (The horror of that is mindboggling.) In some ways, I think they were worse to each other -- under the guise of "love."

It may bring you some peace to realize that your H may be telling the truth about how little he considered you, as crazy, hurtful and unfair as it is. It doesn't mean it was ok, and it doesn't mean he doesn't have to be remorseful and do all the right stuff now, but it does mean that he may have been trapped in a fantasy and had issues seeing reality for a while. It is hard to swallow, but I have found it to be accurate in my case.


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
sisoon
Member
Member # 31240
Default  Posted: 7:53 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

I suspect the MC whose comments resulted in this thread was using 'victim' and 'perpetrator' as technical terms that are used in psychotherapy and 12 step programs.

Steven Karpman many years ago observed that alcoholic families often saw people switch between roles of Victim, Rescuer, and Persecutor. This fit in well with Transactional Analysis' concept of games and scripts, which were often modeled on fairy tales, and fairy tales have Victims, Rescuers, and Persecutors. Later, in AA, 'Persecutor' often became 'Perpetrator'.

Karpman created the Drama Triangle, and it's won him at least one well-deserved award and a lot of fame.

Some of us take on the role of Victim and see life as if the world has ganged up on us.

Many of us have KISA WSes - people who take on the Rescuer role to be liked, perhaps, and to like themselves.

Still others are angry much of the time because dinner isn't on the table in the right way, or because the BS keeps ruining their lives by not moving on - Persecutors.

A BS who takes on the Victim role will probably spend her life in self-pity (or switch between Victim & Persecutor) - and will never heal. The MC was accusing the poster of doing that.

But BSes have actually been victimized, and it's important for us to realize that. In fact, a BS probably can't heal unless he realizes he's been victimized.

What are the differences between being a victim and being a Victim? I can't put it into words very well, but as a Victim - and I certainly spent a lot of time in DTs when I was younger and some time now - 1) I switch between the V, R, & P roles, and 2) I hold onto and feed my self-pity and righteous anger.

Right now, a woman in my building is violating unwritten rules - unwritten, so I can't force her to change (I'm condo pres). This is not the first problem she's caused. I obsess about getting back at her. WRT her, I'm definitely in Victim, and I'm looking for an opportunity to switch too persecutor. That's a very big difference from how I've handled recovery from the A.

As 'victimized' BS, 1) I feel my feelings when I have them, 2) I choose how to express them, and 3) after I express them, they're gone.

For example, for months after D-Day I felt anger, which I often expressed by saying, with a lot of emotion, 'I'm furious that you did ...!' Sometimes I wrote a list of things I was angry about. Often I'd tell my W or post here how sad I felt. Once expressed, my feelings were gone for good. I remember being angry and sad, but those are memories, not feelings in the here and now.

Early in recovery, I think it's impossible to distinguish between a victim and a Victim. Maybe the BS who posted is holding on to her pain, but it's more likely that she's overwhelmed with pain.

I'll say this, though. It's unethical for the therapist to hold on the way this guy is doing. He's offering help even though he's been told the poster doesn't want it.

In pushing his comments onto her, he may be Persecuting her. OTOH, he may be trying to assuage his own bad feelings, which is the hallmark of a Rescuer.

In other words, it looks like the MC is deep in the Drama Triangle with this couple - and that bodes ill for the results of therapy with him.

[This message edited by sisoon at 7:55 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)]


fBH (me) - 70 (22 in my head), fWW (plainsong) - 65+, Married 45+, together since 1965
DDay - 12/2010
Recovered, not yet fully R'ed
I share my own experience because it's the only experience I know, not because I'm a good model.

Posts: 9991 | Registered: Feb 2011 | From: Chicago area
sodamnlost
Member
Member # 37190
Default  Posted: 8:02 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

I have struggled like crazy with the victim mentality. Outside of how it affects my marriage, it's a horrible road to go down for me. It makes me feel powerless, like SAWH had to fix me since he broke me. It led me to be a selfish, entitled brat I didn't recognize. My WH was a SA and cheated on me before we even had time to have issues as a couple so I am in a unique position there. But, over the 9 years we have been together, I let his (unknown to me) addiction totally change who I was. I can't fix that if I am only a victim. I have to own who I have turned into. I could have left. I could have trusted myself.

I do struggle with this though still. I *AM* a victim. It's like telling a 15 YO girl who's Dad sexually abused her since she was two it's not about her. It's really not, but it happened TO her. So it's


If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck - it's not a fluffy pink unicorn squirting liquid rainbows, complete with pots of gold out of it's ass.

Posts: 766 | Registered: Oct 2012 | From: Nowhere pretty
AFrayedKnot
Member
Member # 36622
Default  Posted: 8:07 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

And while the waywards actions cause extreme pain to a BS, they are actually not directed at the BS

I believe the lies were absolutely directed at the BS. While the interactions with the AP may not be technically abusive, the interactions with the BS absolutely are.


BS 39
fWS 36 (SurprisinglyOkay)
DD DS
A whole bunch of shit that got a lot worse before it got better.
"Knowing is half the battle"

Posts: 2560 | Registered: Aug 2012
ptsdrecon
Member
Member # 36031
Default  Posted: 8:19 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Selfless or selfish?

I am at the point where I understand my wife's struggle, yet we were in the same relationship. When I bring up the subject and try to get her to recognize my pain, she gets angry. Not as angry as she used to, but defensive none the less. She states, "You have already made up your mind, so why are we repeating the same things?"

I pulled up dearpeggy, complete with all the reasons for affairs and she immediately pointed to "Desire to escape or find relief from a painful relationship." That was it. It made me feel as though SHE decided it was my fault, and nothing is going to change that. She has said, "In my mind we were over." Then she claims she never wanted to leave me for him. Isn't this the description of an exit affair?

We struggle. I struggle. She says that she wants to be with me, and I ask what need he filled in her. Her response? "He was kind to me."

In my opinion we need marital counseling badly. I still feel like my internal self is in little pieces. She says she doesn't know who her "self" is. How can she commit to R without knowing who she is?

Maybe I'm just having a bad day, but I still feel victimized.


Me BH (48)
Her FWW (39 + 1/2)
Married 12+
2 Angels 8 10
D-Day Feb 1 2012
6 month EA PA

Posts: 159 | Registered: Jul 2012 | From: USA
veronique12
Member
Member # 42185
Default  Posted: 8:44 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

My DDay is only 2 months ago, with lots of TT. Being so early in the process and trying to understand what the hell happened, my sense of self bounces around from victim (WS and OW did this "to" me) to collateral damage (WS wasn't thinking about me at all) to willful denier (I saw signs, how could I have explained them away?) to cause (our M was stagnant and I was distant).

When I stand back I recognize that all of these things make up the composite of what happened. For instance the OW pretended to be my friend, got information about my M from me, pursued coming to my house to have intimate dinner parties with me and my H, and my H allowed that to happen--that was all calculated power play directed at me (victim). H claims he didn't see it that way at the time (he now does) and he was just thinking of himself and getting his needs met (I was just collateral damage).

Like other people have said, early in the process it's important to understand what really happened TO YOU and it's almost impossible (at least for me) to not feel like a victim because I truly believe that's what I am. For me the hardest part of the A is dealing with the fact that my WS gave the OW permission to violate me--to use me as a tool for her desire to "conquer" my H and have him throw away his M for her--bc that's what they did. However I recognize that a BS needs to work out how to accept that yes, you are a victim but that is not all that you are. You are also someone who has a choice about how things are going to move forward. Staying the victim will ultimately leave me bitter and paralyzed. Accepting that I play other roles too is empowering. Accepting that my H is not just the asshole/perp he was being during the A is hard for me to do right now, but I'm going to have to get to that place eventually if we have any chance of making it. I guess this is where the credit/deficit idea comes in: he has to credit my account, which he's overdrawn and show me the other roles he wants to play in my life besides perpetrator--roles like friend, healer, lover, partner, my equal. The anger, outrage, pain, and grief I'm feeling make it really hard to accept those things at times tho...


BW: me (38)
WH: 43
OW: false "friend"
D-Day: 11/29/13 (4 month EA discovered); 12/19/13 (discovered was also PA); TT thru 2/14
Married: 2001; Together for nearly 20 years
2 beautiful young kids

Posts: 462 | Registered: Jan 2014
Kyrie
Member
Member # 41825
Default  Posted: 9:15 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

My H's A and perpetual dishonesty absolutely victimized me and I have every right to claim that and to hold on to that identity for as long as I need. The devastation of infidelity causes me to cry out, "Look what's been done to me!" I get to own that response.

What's been done to me, to my H, to our M has altered me. I will never look at M, my H, myself or people in general the same as I did prior to his A. As time has moved on from DD, "Look what's been done to me!" is now followed by "What do I do with what's been done to me?" I found myself trying desperately to find meaning not so much in the devastation, but in the ways I had been changed. And let me tell you, searching for those answers is painful and difficult and unbelievably challenging. The answers do not come all at once and when they do come, they come on their own time and own ways. But the key here is that something in me refused to stay devastated. I refuse to stay in victim mode. Yes, I was victimized and that fact will never change. My H was the perpetrator and that fact will never change. Those details are forever a part of our life stories. To say otherwise disparages the magnitude of the suffering.

But my choice and my H's choice to do something in response to those awful details is what determines whether or not either one of us remains captive to those sad affair identities. I don't know what our new identities will be named or labeled, but I do know that "victim" will not be the last or the only or the most prominent one. And because I love my H, I do not want perpetrator to be his identity. If we allow that, then the A will always have the final word in our lives. And I will not allow that.

What's done is done. We cannot change the past and we cannot change each other. All we can do is make choices about how we respond. For me, I refuse to respond in a way that allows the identity of victim to be my primary identity. I'm still searching for what this new identity will be called - healed, transformed, awakened, I don't know. But I do know that what's happened to me will not get the final say about who I am.


Me: BW (47), WH (48)
Married 24 yrs, 2 teenagers
DD#1 01.20.12 When diagnosed w/STD
Told it was 15 mo. PA that ended 6 years ago
DD#2 04.06.14 Truth: PA was 2yrs/8mo
Separated for 6 weeks
Reconciling and healing now

Posts: 192 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: southeast USA
DixieD
Member
Member # 33457
Default  Posted: 9:34 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

I agree with SMS. The BS's victimization feeling must be processed through. It is unhealthy to get stuck in it, but it can't be rushed either, similar to many of the stages of this process as we strive for acceptance.

I also agree it is progression for the BS to move from how you could do this TO ME, to how could you do this to yourself. And to realize, even though it hurts greatly, that the BS was not a consideration, except possibly in a passive aggressive way.

As far as abuse goes, I had an XBF who used me as a punching bag and told me in detail how he would kill me and get away with it. My husband's affair and behavior that surrounded it affected me far more deeply than the physical and emotional abuse of living with someone who told me (and gave me no reason not to believe them) how they would end my life.

XBF's abuse was overt and I saw it coming (after it happened the first time) I left that relationship without feeling like a victim.

I trusted my husband, partly because he knew what I'd been through previously and I foolishly thought that would count for something. While my husband's affair was about him and I was collateral damage he still lied TO ME on a daily basis. That was crushing and yes, I felt like a victim. From my own experience, covert abuse can be far more damaging and leave more scars then physical hits.

IMO, my husband's behavior was abusive. And thankfully, it was him realizing that for himself that had the greatest affect on his motivation to change.

It helped me one day to realize that really, my H had perhaps even more directly hurt the AP than me. My hurts are lies and betrayal, all awful but kind of indirect. However he allowed her to do things that directly affected her security, and let her take actions that hurt her husband and her two kids. He put her in a position where she could have faced public disapproval, and even gotten pregnant while married to another man.

I don't see it like that. She did that to herself. He didn't force her to do anything. She was fully aware of the situation going in. Her hurts are directly linked to her own choices. That was the risk she took.


Growing forward

Posts: 1767 | Registered: Sep 2011
rachelc
Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 9:41 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Living and Loving After Betrayal was extremely helpful to me in making this transition from victim to healing. The book provides a lot of exercises to help you through the process.

I like the exercise where the betrayer signs a paper that says they'll cut off their arm if they betray their spouse again.


his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...


Posts: 4786 | Registered: Dec 2010
HUFI-PUFI
Member
Member # 25460
Default  Posted: 9:56 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Bionicgal - One of his major points was that as long as the BS chose to see herself as 100% the victim and her husband as 100% the perpetrator, that true understanding and reconciliation was not possible.

I think that seeing yourself as having been victimized is not, IMHO, the same as feeling as a victim. Being victimized means that some unwanted event happened to you. I.e., my car was keyed today in the parking lot, therefore, I was a victim of a crime and I was victimized. It refers to an event and the trauma of that event. Being a victim means clinging onto an image of powerlessness, of discounting your ability to effect change. Every BS who grasped onto and used the 180 to its fullest, knows full well how this empowered them and took them from helpless victim to master of their own destiny. Being victimized is what your spouse did; being a victim is what you allowed to happen.

True understanding comes from knowing yourself and your strengths and abilities. A victim does not come from a position of strength. True reconciliation comes when both partners are on a journey of healing, one from pain, the other from self-healing. Again, if either partner is stuck on the path, R will not be successful.
From a WS perspective, I feel we need to get beyond my identity of being the person who perpetrated the crime of adultery and my identity as a perpetrator. One is the action that I committed and the other is a label.

Hosea - What I will concede is that there cannot be real reconciliation if the two parties remain (stuck) in their respective positions as Victim and Perpetrator.

One of the problems in these discussions is that we do not have a lexicon of agreed definitions to attach to our respective actions and feelings but rather, we simply have labels and often, we fling them around like confetti or glitter at a new year’s celebration. Cheater. Victim. We use them to label and categorize people.

This is because absolute beliefs are simple, easy to comprehend, and false positives that offer us a false sense of security. As Ugo Uche says, the complexities of life are like fractions for the average fourth or fifth grader. The more odd numbers that exist in the equation, the more intimidating the problem becomes. And when life becomes complex, it’s easy to turn to black and white thinking. Create a slogan or a phrase and lump everyone into it.

All-or-nothing thinking is a form of cognitive distortion, which often involves using absolute terms, such as never, always, every and nothing. You never do this but you always do that. Every time we argue, Nothing ever helps. And studies have shown that a side effect of psychopathological states, such as depression, stress and anxiety reinforce and support this phenomenon.

Bionicgal - He indicated that while her husband was 100% responsible for his actions, that getting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitely was going to keep her from meeting him in the space between them where they could learn to communicate better.

I’d like to focus on the words of “getting stuck in this idea of blame indefinitely” as I feel this is the crux behind his comment. I feel that slapping simplistic "labels" onto complex life events is a form of this cognitive distortion. Once a cheater, always a cheater. I was always the victim. You never listen to me. You twist everything I say. I know that you’re thinking.

Yup, every time LF and I got caught up in the 3 Demon Dialogues (Dr. Sue Johnson), I could hear those “cognitive distortion or absolute| words and labels coming out of both of our mouths. And until we stopped doing that, until we starting listening and knowing the difference between a feeling and a thought, we were stuck.

Quite often, we get stuck in our thinking and we get frozen in our feelings. And that’s where the danger lies. It’s not whether you feel like a victim that is harmful; it’s when you always feel like the victim. It’s when you still label him as the perpetrator when it’s harmful. Getting stuck in a demon dialogue indefinitely is not conducive to healing.

Like Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time and a season for everything. And perhaps, that means, that during R, especially R I would feel, there is a time to get beyond the easy pleasy labels and to really dig deeper. There is a need to move beyond the surface labels and to really dig deep.

Bionicgal - The therapist did have some strong opinions about communication issues being the root of adultery, which also goes against this idea here that there is a flawed perpetrator on the loose, and we have to just locate and excise the bad from the WS, and everything should all be a-ok.

I don’t see how communication issues being at the root of adultery goes against the idea that a flawed WS is responsible. I think it supports it. Not in the sense that it was just a lack of open and honest exchange between partners over needs, desires and wants within the marriage that lead to the affair but rather, that it was the lack of communication internally within the WS that is the communication failure.

Sisoon - one of the first things I said after my W confessed was, 'I know you wouldn't have betrayed me unless you had betrayed yourself first.'

I think that often, when life unfolds, we have this internal dialogue in our heads where we try to make sense of life. I think that sometimes, either we lacked the skills to have effective talks to our inner child as we grew up. We let our emotions rule or we focused on an unhealthy thought. If we can’t make heads or tails of what is happening inside our heads and heart to ourselves, then obviously, we will never be able to fully, openly and honestly communicate our heads and hearts to our spouse. Whether its a character flaw or coping technique gone wrong or unhealthy boundaries, the truth lies within the WS. I believe that the failure to see ourselves for who and what we are and to face that head on is the root cause behind our actions.

Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves - Henry David Thoreau

I think that this lack of clarity within and this lack of understanding and the inability to vocalize and articulate this brokenness is what lies at the root of our affairs. Afraid to see the truth, unable to cope, unwilling to open up to ourselves and to others, we failed to communicate inside us. If we can’t face the truth of ourselves, how would we ever be able to fully relate to anyone else? That said, while it may be at one level we're also victims, it will never excuse the fact that we in turn victimized our spouses.

HUFI

To my regret, I have now learnt that my own heart and mind are not always my best friend either as I try to peel away the onion of intertwined thoughts, actions, emotions, fears, passions and destructive behaviours that brought me to this affair – HUFI


Don’t listen to your head, it’s easily confused. Don’t listen to your heart, its fickle. Listen to your soul, God doesn't steer you wrong.

Posts: 3230 | Registered: Sep 2009 | From: Azilda, Northern Ontario
Kyrie
Member
Member # 41825
Default  Posted: 10:14 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

That'll preach, Hufi! Wow, that's strong!

Too bad there are no "Like" buttons on SI. Thanks for your insights -- always so helpful to me.


Me: BW (47), WH (48)
Married 24 yrs, 2 teenagers
DD#1 01.20.12 When diagnosed w/STD
Told it was 15 mo. PA that ended 6 years ago
DD#2 04.06.14 Truth: PA was 2yrs/8mo
Separated for 6 weeks
Reconciling and healing now

Posts: 192 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: southeast USA
Rebreather
Member
Member # 30817
Default  Posted: 10:15 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Perhaps what part of the issue is here that the word "victim" is seen as a very negative word/thing. It polls terribly. I've banished it from our work-speak. Focus groups I have worked on have shown that most people do not want to see themselves as a victim. It sends a negative message. And yet, when trying to concoct other words to use in its stead...it's hard! You end up with a bunch of word salad instead of saying what you mean - you were a victim. Society tells us being a victim is "bad" so people rebel against it but the are left unsure of how to feel, because they feel like a victim!

There is nothing wrong with being a victim. By it's very definition, it isn't your fault. Volunteering to stay a victim, maybe that's not so good.


Me BS
Him WH
2 ddays in '07
Recovering.
"The cure for the pain, is the pain." -Rumi

Posts: 6360 | Registered: Jan 2011
LA44
Member
Member # 38384
Default  Posted: 10:20 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Wow! I am just floored by the insight this thread is creating.

@Kyrie....this is kinda where my head is at right now/last couple months especially.

What's done is done. We cannot change the past and we cannot change each other. All we can do is make choices about how we respond. For me, I refuse to respond in a way that allows the identity of victim to be my primary identity. I'm still searching for what this new identity will be called - healed, transformed, awakened, I don't know. But I do know that what's happened to me will not get the final say about who I am.

Thanks bionic for starting this.



Me: 44
He: 47 WH
Married: 15 years
D Day: December 2012
Affair: Fall 2009 - Dec. 2011
R is not linear

Posts: 2228 | Registered: Feb 2013 | From: Canada, eh
Razor
Member
Member # 16345
Default  Posted: 10:29 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

IMO allot of the insistence of the WS being 100% responsible for the affair is due to our being blamed for it.

Theres allot of rewriting of M history that happens to justify what the WS wants to do. Also MCs love to throw the *reasons* into things they can actually work with their clients on. *communication issues* *lack of intimacy* *loneliness* *FOO issues* All those are things MCs and ICs are equipt and comfortable working on.

But I dont see how the BS is NOT the victim here.

If someone puts a bomb in a public space. They dont intend to hurt those people individually. The bomb goes off and they are collateral damage. But those hurt are still victims.

We were lied to. Remember that. As such our WS knew we would be hurt by their actions. And yet they did what they did anyway. And sometimes the lies and the cheating went on for years. Those lies and the treatment we receive in the M amount to emotional and physical abuse. In the case of LTAs we discover that for much of our life we have been manipulated. Controlled. And entire portions of our life have to be reexamined to be understood.

Again. How are we not victims?


Forgive and forget = Relive and regret.


Posts: 3432 | Registered: Sep 2007
rachelc
Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 10:37 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

I think everyone is in agreement that BS are victims. But placing their identity there and remaining a victim is something that can't happen if there is reconciliation.

What Hosea said about it being a Herculean forgiving effort by the BS - that takes them out of victimhood. It also may take just as big an effort from the WS to fix their shit and be there for the BS as they heal. That brings them out of the perp identity...



his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...


Posts: 4786 | Registered: Dec 2010
Ascendant
Member
Member # 38303
Default  Posted: 10:42 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

What Razor said.

I think we need to distinguish being actually being a victim (which all BS are), and having the victim mindset.

If your spouse cheated on you, then you have been victimized. Period.

The victim mindset is one wherein all the attention paid is to the crime that created the victim. I think it's actually SUPER helpful early on...there needs to be clear defining line between BS and WS in the wake of infidelity, and the '/' between victim and perpetrator will do nicely. It's a very clear issue, because one person's actions hurt the other....if we want to get into intent, etc., it's a much different conversation.

One of the things Razor alluded to up there is that for a while during the affair, but probably before, for many of us BS we were portrayed as the perpetrator BY OUR SPOUSE...which means that they've already shown that they buy into the V/P dynamic....just because the WS doesn't like that dynamic post-DDAY doesn't really mean jack. They already owned it.


I refuse to let a wound ruin me.

Posts: 2041 | Registered: Jan 2013 | From: Illinois
ILINIA
Member
Member # 39836
Default  Posted: 11:05 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Sorry, a little late to the party!

These are the areas that I continue to struggle with and try to wrap my head around. Both of the terms victim and abuse are sometimes tough to swallow and process.

Victim – I am on better terms with this word. I had no power at the time of the affair, however, I do now. I can choose my own path, but I have to take time to process it and process it in a healthy way. When sisoon first posted about the drama triangle, I read about it for a few days. My husband was a perpetrator during the affair and looking back possibly even before the A started. (Side note: During the affair, my WH played the victim role with me being the perpretrator and COW being the KISA just like model describes.) I think I have processed it and I have chosen not to stay a victim. I have grown, I have power, and I have choices. Every day is still hard and I will revert back here and there, but I bounce out faster. I think the original poster just needs time and not to be pushed to heal faster than she can.

Abuse – This is the one that I still rug sweep to a certain extent. When I first joined SI, a member had written about A being abuse and emotional rape. Well, I quickly tossed that aside because whoa, those are really ugly words. My husband did not do THAT. My husband was caring, compassionate, intelligent, and a family man. I choose him to marry and I gave him my heart, he couldn’t be THAT guy. We hear on SI quite a bit, that the posts that “ruffle our feathers” the most are the ones that hit closest to home. Those terms have rattled in my head for months, but I always set them back on the shelf.

Reading this thread, pulled them back off the shelf for me. If I look at the evidence and lay the A timeline against our family life, I cannot ignore it. If I look at the types of abuse and I am honest with myself, his actions and words during that time checks off several boxes. There are things I denied and just shut the door on, because it was too hard to think that he could be this ugly, vile guy.

For me to some how accept the A, I will use excuses. He was in a fantasy world. He never would have done it if he knew how much it was going to hurt me. He was so disconnected from me and everyone else. Our marriage wasn’t as strong as it could be and we lacked communication skills. He had a tough childhood, so did not have the tools or coping mechanisms necessary to have a healthy relationship. He worked hard and was stressed with work. He was struggling with his role in life and had a MLC. This is my rugsweeping. My justifications and living in my own fantasy world. None of those excuses really mean squat to me. Yes, they are things he needs to address to become a better human being and yes, we can make our marriage better. The truth is I tell myself those things to make the A more acceptable and more palatable. Also, I can pull any one of these pretty little excuses out when my mom asks how we are doing, we both can then justify it together!

We could find thousands of men that fit all the categories above and yet, they choose to remain faithful. He's an adult. He knew it was morally wrong. He knew the expectations of being married to me and being in a monogamous relationship. He had choices like everyone else in this world. He choose to rewrite the rules on our marriage, to lie to me, and to manipulate different situations with me and the kids. He choose to have affair because he wanted to. He knew it was a risk. It was either going to have a high payoff or go bust. He had considered the consequences of it going bust and still went forward. It may not have been our whole marriage, but during the A this is who he was. That is my truth and I am trying to accept it.

I am starting to ramble, but in short, I think I have to go there and remove all the excuses and just process these terms as part of my healing.


Entering R slowly and cautiously...

Posts: 448 | Registered: Jul 2013
Razor
Member
Member # 16345
Default  Posted: 11:10 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

IMO.
I think helping a BS to heal could be a good way for a WS to heal themself.

By telling the truth and owning it. The WS sees the effect their actions have on their BS. The real significance of what they did sinks in. This is a opportunity for the WS to look inside and see the broken parts of themself and work on that. It makes visible what might elsewise be still invisible.

Also there has to be a relearning of the M history by BOTH the WS and BS. The WS has to see that they lied to themself to justify their intended affair. And the BS has to realize how much of what they believed was a lie.

The WS should try and be there for their BS. They need to cry together. Which is healing.

The problem though is that nobody wants to be wrong. And many WS continue to hurt their BS by insisting they are not wrong. and many put the blame on their BS. Blaming the victim is never a good way to heal.

ETA
If *M problems* and *communication* and all the rest of it were real reasons to have a affair. Then everyone of us. EVERY BS HERE. Would have a affair.

But those arent reasons are they.

[This message edited by Razor at 11:14 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)]


Forgive and forget = Relive and regret.


Posts: 3432 | Registered: Sep 2007
SisterMilkshake
Member
Member # 30024
Default  Posted: 11:27 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Re t/j: Infidelity as abuse.

I dunno, being mind fucked by my spouse seems pretty abusive to me. I don't know if there are levels. (serial cheaters vs. a one off) It either is or isn't, imo.

I didn't come to SI with this thought at all. After being here for awhile and reading some similar threads as ILINIA did, I have come to the conclusion, for myself, that infidelity is, indeed, abuse.


BW (me) 50ish FWH 50ish
Married 34 years, 3 children
d-day 3/10 LTA (4 yrs./fucking & flirting)

"Oh, why do my actions have consequences?" ~ Homer Simpson
"She knew my one weakness: That I'm weak!" ~ Homer Simpson


Posts: 9548 | Registered: Nov 2010 | From: The Great White North USA
rachelc
Member
Member # 30314
Default  Posted: 11:28 AM, February 25th (Tuesday)

ILINIA - bless you on your journey. What a brave post.


his Ddays: 2/10, 7/11
my Ddays: 1/12, 4/12 broken NC 12/12

me (WW/BS): 48
him: (BS/WH)52
4 kiddos in mid 20's

Me: I didn't sign up for this.
Him: you're already in this. All you can do is resign...


Posts: 4786 | Registered: Dec 2010
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 12:00 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)

And while the waywards actions cause extreme pain to a BS, they are actually not directed at the BS

I believe the lies were absolutely directed at the BS. While the interactions with the AP may not be technically abusive, the interactions with the BS absolutely are.

Yes, that is true. Thanks for that.


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
bionicgal
Member
Member # 39803
Default  Posted: 12:12 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)

I appreciated what you had to say very much ILINIA, although I am not sure that your excuses are rugsweeping. And this:

We could find thousands of men that fit all the categories above and yet, they choose to remain faithful. He's an adult. He knew it was morally wrong. He knew the expectations of being married to me and being in a monogamous relationship. He had choices like everyone else in this world.

This is certainly true, but I believe also has to be balanced by the fact that infidelity is so prevalent. Somewhere between 30 and 80 percent of marriages are affected, depending on who you ask. So, what are we to make of that? It seems we humans have this enormous blind spot when it comes to self-deception, and simultaneously enormous expectations for what marriages (and monogamy) can sustain when they go untended, or when people hit personal crises, depending on how you look at it.

I am not an apologist for adultery, and I believe in monogamy, but we are not talking about people who have done something aberrant and unusual. They have done something terrible, and unfortunately quite common.


me - BS (40s)
DDay - June 2013, A was 2+ months, EA then PA
In MC & Reconciling
An affair is more like a mental break than a relationship.

I edit, therefore I am.


Posts: 1888 | Registered: Jul 2013 | From: USA
Kyrie
Member
Member # 41825
Default  Posted: 12:42 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Yes, bionicgal, this is exactly what the late Peggy Vaughn talked about. The truth is affairs are so unbelievably common. And when you consider other forms of infidelity, like porn use and even stonewalling (that's John Gottman's idea,) then we have unfaithful people all over the place!

And to echo Mrs. Vaughn, the fact that we as a society don't call it like it is, talk openly about its pervasiveness, we're almost enabling it to happen. You want to talk about perpetrators? I'd say we live in a society that perpetrates a culture of infidelity.

By the way, hi ILINIA - I agree with bionicgal, your excuses are not rugsweeping. Our Hs absolutely abused us and I think the "excuses" are what's needed for us to be able to pursue R. They aren't excuses so much as they are simply a means for understanding, which I think is critical for strengthening our ability to go forward with the WS.

The challenge for me as a BS is being able to hold both perspectives at once: what H did/who he was in one hand and what he's doing now/who he is becoming in the other. THAT is incredibly hard to do!


Me: BW (47), WH (48)
Married 24 yrs, 2 teenagers
DD#1 01.20.12 When diagnosed w/STD
Told it was 15 mo. PA that ended 6 years ago
DD#2 04.06.14 Truth: PA was 2yrs/8mo
Separated for 6 weeks
Reconciling and healing now

Posts: 192 | Registered: Dec 2013 | From: southeast USA
ILINIA
Member
Member # 39836
Default  Posted: 1:21 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)

Oh my, we are totally t/j now! Yikes! Should we toss in whether or not we are wired for monogamy or for romantic love too?

This is a really good conversation! I don't have time now, but will respond when I get home.


Entering R slowly and cautiously...

Posts: 448 | Registered: Jul 2013
painfulpast
Member
Member # 41038
Default  Posted: 4:46 PM, February 25th (Tuesday)

First – there are a lot of very brave and honest posts in this thread. I thank all of you for sharing, and making me think about my own definitions of a terrible set of circumstances.

Victim – What I’m seeing here is a case being made between ‘intentional’ and ‘unintentional’. The WS didn’t intend to hurt the BS, it just happened. Collateral damage. I agree with this whole heartedly. I have to say, to me, the intended outcome is irrelevant. The WS knew they were playing with fire. That’s why they hid. That’s why they lied. That’s why they gaslit, and picked fights, and rewrote histories. We were the intended blindsided party – we were just not supposed to know about it. There most certainly was intention – but not of the full on nuclear explosion that happened.

And on that note – I don’t think it matters. If I’m out for a walk, and a drunk driver mows me down, am I not a victim of a drunk driver? Sure, he didn’t mean to run me down, but he was playing with fire. Same with a WS.

Now, what is a victim? Well, it’s any BS, among many other types. How we choose to handle that status shows who we are. We didn’t know we were victims until it was too late – we were victims. That won’t change – we will always have been a victim of infidelity.

The character comes in how we deal with this new ‘label’. Do we stay home, angry, bitter, scornful? Or do we pick ourselves up, dust off, and move on? We can’t not have been a victim. We can not stay in misery.

Just my thoughts on it. Again, thanks to all for sharing. Very insightful topic.


The stones from my enemies, these wounds will mend
but I cannot survive the roses from my friends

Posts: 1888 | Registered: Oct 2013 | From: East Coast
Topic Posts: 53