One strategy that abusive people employ in psychologically abusing and manipulating their victim, is to claim the victim is being abusive towards them. There is a certain point at which the victim might break, and lash out at the abuser. They’ve continually been convinced that they constantly overreact, that there is nothing to react to, and so the victim endures it passively, staying unable to acknowledge their pain and abuse.
Going through a longer period of abuse can make victims snap at the abuser. They often scream, insult and sometimes physically attack. And the abuser reacts to this by claiming such an outburst is “evidence” of their instability, and that it is they who are the abusers. They hold it against the victim for as long and hard as they can, and they refuse to discuss the situation. They’re uninterested in listening to you because that outburst is all the proof they’ll need of your “emotional instability”. And in reality, it is indeed the victim who is suffering, but is too afraid to bring it up, and perhaps even unaware their abuse.
The abuser manipulates the situation to his own advantage, making themselves out to be the victim. This is enough to make the victim believe they are the abuser, and that they really do have a violent temper, eventually leading them to identify themselves as such, and maybe even start seeking out help for it.And if it happens that the victim manages to get away from the abuser, it’s very likely that they stand no chance against the rumors the abuser might launch, especially because the victim believes they’re true.
However inappropriate a reaction an emotional outburst might be, it’s still undeserving of a violent recoil. It’s important to recognize the motives behind it and to differentiate between this kind of reaction and the abuse that causes it.
The term “Reactive abuse” might be a bit harsh, as it implies considerable violence that causes the victim mental and physical harm. “Reactive abuse” doesn’t actually hurt the abuser it’s aimed at, but is instead exactly the outcome the real abuser want to increase their sense of self-worth and power over the victim.
A good way to recognize a victim who’s had a reaction, from an abuser who’s manipulating, is to observe the attitudes towards their actions. Victims will almost always be willing to admit their mistakes, and this quality is what the abuser uses against them, to convince them they’re at fault. A part of the healing process is to correctly differentiate the different abusive behaviors, and to still acknowledge that the reaction was unnecessary. After all, we’re all subject to react badly when under pressure of abuse.
Abusers, on the other hand, will never admit they’ve done anything wrong. They always shift the blame, and use every tiny mistake against the victim, even though they never sit down and discuss it. The most dangerous, intelligent psychologically abusive people might even have the ability to fake admitting their mistakes. But, even then it’s quite obvious, since every insincere apology is followed by a clam of the victims fault after all.