Acceptance is the basis for most religions, twelve step programs and therapy. Yet in the western societies we find it such an alien concept. I know that I did.
For many of us who have suffered abuse of some form we can accept the negative much easier than the positive. Phrases that are often heard are “I deserved it”, “I was bad”, or “If it was so horrible why did I not leave?” Our experiences of abuse and the coping strategies that we use at that time often trip up us later in life.
In my case, growing up in an alcoholic family made me overly responsible, emotionally vulnerable and susceptible to an abusive relationship. It was so easy to manipulate me in to believing that the abuse was my fault and it if I was just a better girl friend it would not happen again. It was the perfect time, place, and person for it to happen. I was primed by my childhood to accept the negativity of an abusive relationship.
Adults who were sexually abused as children are even more susceptible to accepting the negative as truth. This makes complete sense when you consider the brain washing they experienced by their abusers. Believe me when I say that it is brain washing and that the reason the abuser does it is to try to absolve their guilt. Any positivity in the life of a person who was abused as a child is suspect. They don’t deserve it or it may represent the danger of more abuse. The carrot before the stick approach has been used in the past and that leaves people wary.
True acceptance is a state of mind in which we acknowledge the situation but leave the judgment of it behind. Survivors of abuse often look for the “why” behind the abuse. Unfortunately this feeds in to the negative as there are no reasons for it. Not ones that makes sense and actually explains how it happens. To heal we have to learn to accept the situation without the negative judgment of ourselves. It is a past event and as such cannot be changed. What we can do is change the meaning we assign to it and the self view that is tied to it.