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Sunday, June 25, 2017
For Adult Daughters of Controlling or Abusive Birth-Families
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The Mystery Excuse For Abuse: Various Versions of "You Don't Know What You're Talking About" With No Further Explanation Given

The Mystery Excuse For Abuse:

Various Versions of "You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About"-

With No Further Explanation Given

 

By Rev. Renee

 

            Sometimes when we confront an abuser, the response will often be some form of "You’re wrong" or "You don’t know what you’re talking about".  However, the abuser will refuse to elaborate any further.  Even when asked what he means when he says we’re wrong, he will never be specific about exactly HOW we’re wrong or WHAT we’re wrong about.

            Some typical examples of the Mystery Excuse are:

            You’re wrong

            You’re wrong about me

            You took it the wrong way

            You misunderstood what I said

            You misunderstood what I meant/ I didn’t mean it that way

            I was only trying to help you, not hurt you (I did it for your own good)

            You don’t understand

            You don’t know what you’re talking about

            You don’t know anything about why I did what I did- I had my reasons!

            You don’t know what was going on in my life

            You are misjudging me

            What you’re saying isn’t true

            What you’re saying about me isn’t true

            You’ve got it wrong

            Your facts are in error

            You heard me wrong

            You misinterpreted what I said

            You always think the worst of me

 

A LESSON ON HOW TO NEVER GIVE A STRAIGHT ANSWER

 

            E-mails and letters are always great study tools for learning about the defenses and excuses that abusers rely on. After the end of my relationship with a very narcissistic, selfish, and demanding ex-friend, I noticed some interesting patterns in her e-mail answers to my rebuke of her hurtful behavior.  Of course, the usual denial, pouting, anger, blaming others and refusing to be accountable or change anything was evident.  But so was the "Mystery Excuse".

            To make a long story very short, the beginning of the end of this relationship came when I was a few days away from a 450-mile move, we were living in a tunnel of boxes, my son was graduating college, one of my 120 pound dogs was recuperating from knee surgery and couldn’t walk, and various other family members and friends were dealing with true problems and tragedies, such as cancer and deaths in the family, which called for as much support and contact as I could manage under my own stressful circumstances.  Ignoring everything  I had to deal with, my drama-queen friend decided this was the perfect time to demand attention for one of her typical life catastrophes- her adult daughter breaking up with her boyfriend.  Her daughter was perfectly happy and already dating someone else, but for some reason Miss Drama-Queen decided that her daughter’s love life entitled her to attention for herself.  In fact, she believed she was so deserving of immediate attention that she became irate when I explained that a number of our loved ones were going through true tragedies and needed some of my time as well.  My inability to drop everything going on in my life so she could vent caused a meltdown of selfishness.

            When I could not give her all the attention she wanted, instead of being supportive of me as I had always been of her, she became demanding and abusive and caused a great deal of upset.  Within a few days of my move, and the weekend of my son’s graduation, she called or emailed several times a day without giving me a chance to think it over or respond, ranted and raved on my answering machine, and accused me of lying about how busy I was and how often I read e-mails, and of being selfish and not putting people first (meaning only HER, of course), among other things.  Finally I set strict limits on the contact I would have with her, she became resentful and spiteful, and the relationship deteriorated further over time, eventually ending a year and a half later.  Someday I will write the whole story, but for right now this will give you an idea of what generated the e-mails which I use as examples in this article, and why they are dated over a period of a year and a half.

 

MYSTERY EXCUSE #1-

"You Misunderstood Me"

 

            The first version of this person’s Mystery Excuse was to claim that I had misunderstood the nasty things she had said and the false accusations she had made.  When I sent her back her own e-mails, in which she clearly said the things she now claimed I "misunderstood", her response was to tell me she needed time to think about what to say and would send me an explanation of her accusations in the form of a longer e-mail, which of course never arrived. 

            But as I continued to hold her accountable for her behavior, subsequent e-mails continued to include some version of me  mysteriously "misunderstanding" her, with never anything more specific.  No matter how many times I asked for clarification about what she meant and what exactly I had "misunderstood", she ignored this request and never explained what she was talking about.  Her excuse was that I misunderstood what she said and did, but what and how I misunderstood was never explained.  Whatever it is I "misunderstood" remains a mystery to this day. 

            This article does not include the entire e-mail discussion, as space would not permit, and months passed between exchanges of e-mails as the relationship went downhill.  I have only included these particular excerpts to illustrate the Mystery Excuse.

             In the first exchange of e-mails, I have included the times she sent them to me, as well as the dates.  This is a perfect lesson in the pressure an abuser will put on a victim for instant forgiveness, with no accountability and no promise of change.  Unlike my ex-friend, I do not spend all day and night on the computer, and only check my e-mails once a day, which she knew.  And yet she e-mailed me every hour or two, including at almost 10:00 at night.  When she didn’t get a response (because I hadn’t even opened them all yet, much less had time to think them over) by first thing the next morning, her temper took over.  She then decided that "God told her she had little to be forgiven for", and actually demanded to know whether I was going to forgive her or not.  So, for a bonus lesson on narcissistic pressure, as you read the following, take note of the times.

5/22/04, 7:17PM- (Her) "I'll have to answer this in more detail later on but for now I will say that I didn't mean some of the things you took the way you did.  I will say more on that subject later."

5/23/04, 10:46 AM- (Her) "I haven't written my long response yet. I want to do it when I have the time to really answer completely. I don't want to just give you a quick reply back this time, but really think about my reply.  I don’t know when this will be unfortunately."
"I’m sorry for the misunderstandings on both sides."

5/25/04, 5:29 PM-  (After no apology, no "long response" she supposedly was going to write,  and still no clarification of what she meant)-  "I apologized days ago but am I correct in assuming you did not accept that apology? All I can think of is if there is something specific that you want more clarification on, let me know."

5/25/04, 6:20 PM(Me) -I then re-clarified, for the second time,  the false accusations she had made,  which I wanted her to either explain  or apologize for.

5/25/04, 6:49 PM- (Her) "I guess I just can't 'explain' what I mean adequately……So my 'explainations' aren't going to come out as I want or intend them too……I NEVER once even meant to imply that you didn't put people first!!!!!!! (she didn’t "imply" it, she stated it)........ I'm beginning to think you will not and cannot forgive me. That saddens me but I'm saddened mostly for you."  (pressure to forgive without proper apology, repentance, or even answering my questions)

5/25/04, 8:34 PM (Her-, getting a little testy, and without giving me a chance to reply to the last e-mail) "If you want to do it this way, fine, we will. I mean nothing by this except-let's do this."
(She then takes some of the points from one of my previous e-mails and "answers" them.  Note, however, that her "answers" are really not answers at all, but yet another valuable lesson on an abuser’s tactic of dodging a direct question):

1. (Me) You did not apologize for upsetting me just before my son’s graduation.

(Her response) "I did not apologize for upsetting you before your son’s graduation, because I didn't set out to deliberately upset you just before his graduation!!!!"

2.  (Me) You did not apologize for the things you said, you apologized for me 'misunderstanding' what you said. 

(Her response) "But if I NEVER meant them that way in the first place......?"

3.  (Me) I have asked you to clarify what you meant by 'sorry but your one-sidedness has hurt me this time', 'all the phone calls have to be my way and my timing', etc.

(Her response)  "I meant all the times you call me and I miss the phone call, then I call you back ASAP and you are usually not available. Hence, I have to 'KNOW' via osmosis when exactly you are going to call or that's that and we wouldn't get to talk."  (I have no idea how this response is related to my original question of asking her to clarify how I was ever "one-sided" towards her, after I had literally spent decades listening to her laundry list of problems and complaints, or why she appears to be blaming me for not being there when she calls, even though she admits that SHE wasn’t there when I called- apparently she expected me to be a mind-reader.  But I have included it to illustrate a typical non-accountable offender’s strategy of "crazy-making", irrational answers to direct, rational questions)

5/25/04, 9:54PM- (Her)  "We are both attacking each other, instead of attacking the real person responsible.  SATAN and his buddies!"

5/26/04, 10:04 AM- (Her)  "I was praying this morning and asking forgiveness for the things I did against you and God told me I have little to be forgiven for…..Either you will choose to forgive me or you will not.  Which is it going to be?" (Another tactic used by abusers to avoid accountability- going on the offensive, getting an "attitude", and making demands she has no right to make.  Many abusers operate under the old saying, "The best defense is a good offense.")

More Examples of the Mystery "You misunderstood" Defense in later e-mails:

1/24/05- (Her) "This and MANY of the things you have said about me have been very, very misunderstood and taken wrong. I'm not going to try to vindicate myself any longer regarding these. That's God's job anyway. And even if it wasn't, I'm coming to the conclusion you would just attack me further anyway………I was trying to do just the opposite!"

4/6/05-  (Her) "I do believe that you and I both have misunderstood the other and taken what's been said out of context to a large extent."

1/10/06-  (Her) "However, many of the things you say are NOT true and you have misunderstood, whether intentionally or not, I have no way of knowing, but many of your 'facts' are very much in error."

            It is amazing how repetitive these e-mails are, and eye-opening to see in black and white how many times an unaccountable offender will use the same old lame excuse.  Unfortunately, there can be no repentance (change) if an offender never acknowledges that she has any understanding at all of what she did wrong.  When lies or false accusations are challenged, an offender who genuinely wants to resolve the disagreement and repair the relationship can have only two possible responses- to either explain what she meant when she made the accusation, or to apologize for lying about you.  Claiming that the victim "misunderstood" a clear statement the offender made does not show any remorse at all.  The offender cannot ask for forgiveness and promise never to do it again if she never takes responsibility for what she did in the first place.

           

            How to respond to this particular Mystery Excuse?  Insist on clarification.  Don’t get sidetracked.  MAKE YOUR ABUSER EXPLAIN HERSELF.  If she lies about you, call her on it.  If she makes a false accusation or an untrue statement, DON’T ALLOW HER TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT.  Make her explain what she meant, or admit that what she said was not true and apologize.  Insist that she take responsibility for her words.  In other words, hold her accountable.

 


MYSTERY EXCUSE #2

"You Have No Idea What I’ve Been Going Through"

 

            The second version of the Mystery Excuse illustrated in my ex-friend’s e-mails consisted of broad hints that I had no idea what had been going on in her life, so I had no right to "judge" her (hold her accountable for her behavior).  Apparently whatever had been going on was supposed to give her justification for behaving abusively.  Therefore, I had no right to confront her, because she had a reason for doing the things she did, because of whatever was going on in her life. 

            The catch, however, is that she never said what exactly it was that was supposedly going on.  All she would do was vaguely and mysteriously refer to "all the things going on in her life" that I didn’t know about.  Somehow, I was supposed to feel responsible for not knowing things she had never told me.   

            Again, this is typical of a narcissistic abuser who somehow thinks that you should care so much about her life that you will forget all about your complaint, stop right in the middle of requiring accountability from her, ask her what IS going on in her life, and turn your full attention to her needs instead of yours.  It’s an attempt to change the subject, create a diversion, get you off the track, and dodge responsibility for her behavior.  It’s also fishing to see if you’re still interested in her histrionics- if her life is still of utmost importance to you.  She’s trying to pique your curiosity and get a response. 

            Mystery Excuse #2 is also a form of "punishment".  Because I rebuked her and set limits on her, my ex-friend was letting me know that I had been demoted- I was no longer a confidante.  I’m out of the loop, thank the Lord!  Notice how she mentions that she never even told me about her (abusive and estranged) father’s passing.  Then when I sent back her own e-mail, in which she announced his passing to me, she responds "I stand corrected.  I did not think I included you in that e-mail."  Oh really?  Why not?  I was one of her oldest and closest friends- why would she "leave me out" of this news in her life?  What message was she trying to send?  That because I had set limits on her, I was no longer considered a good enough friend to be told that her father had died.  In other words, I was being punished.  Except that not having to endure every detail of a drama queen’s life anymore isn’t exactly punishment.

            Here are some examples of the Mysterious "You Don’t Know What’s Been Going On So You Have No Right To Expect Me To Be Accountable" Excuse taken from these e-mails:

5/22/04-"I have far from told you ALL my hurts or the things going on in our lives or those around us"

5/22/04- "These are ONLY 2 of the things that's been going on in my life. I could fill volumes, just like you!!!! Different, but the same."

1/19/05- "Besides you have NO idea what is going on in my life the past few months. So I'd be very careful before judging me, lest you be judged."

1/24/05-"We ALL, as humans, are selfish and I'm no exception. I have not been telling you anything that has been going on in our lives since May. If you'll recall I didn't even tell you my father died. I had been having Major problems, hard things to deal with esp. from NOV 11th thru the first week of JAN.  But, several VERY serious things were going on during that time."

( My reply-1/24/05-"Actually, you did tell me your father died:" {I then sent her own e-mail back to her}.

Her reply- 1/24/05- "I stand corrected. I did not think I had included you in that e-mail.")

           

1/10/06- "Actually you have had no way of knowing of any changes in our lives for some time now....."

            Again, I am struck by the repetitive nature of these statements even though they were made weeks, months, and even a year apart.  It sounds like a broken record.  This shows that the Mystery Excuse is a pattern with this person- something she falls back on as a matter of habit whenever she needs to explain herself, instead of just being honest and accountable.  Knowing that it’s an "automatic" response causes it to lose credibility.  It’s impossible to actually believe a defense that’s repeatedly pulled out of storage, dusted off, and trotted out whenever a convenient excuse to avoid responsibility is needed.

            After reading these "broad hints", we ask ourselves, "What on earth is the big mystery?  What is she hiding? If something is really going on in her life, why doesn’t she just come right out and say it?"  Again, for all the reasons we discussed above- fishing to see if the victim cares, throwing her off the track, showing her that she’s no longer important enough to be told all the gory details. 

            And most probably because THERE IS NOTHING so earth-shattering REALLY going on in the abuser’s life.  She can’t go into details because THERE ARE NO DETAILS to go into.  To elaborate any further would necessitate exaggeration, proving that she really is just what others suspected all along-  a drama-queen who makes catastrophes out of normal life events to get attention for herself.  Remember, this particular disagreement originally started when my time was very limited by my own life circumstances, and my ex-friend became enraged because I paid more attention to and spent more time on RELATIVES WHO WERE DYING OF CANCER than I did consoling her when her daughter dumped her boyfriend and started dating someone else.

            How to react to this second version of the Mystery Excuse?  When your abuser tries to use whatever is supposedly going on in her life as an excuse for mistreating you, it is best not to give it any credence at all.  She is trying to change the dynamic of your exchange back to her being the center of attention, instead of you.   This will turn the whole discussion back to her and her life, and feed into her narcissistic nature by giving her the attention, and possible sympathy, she craves.

            Simply DON’T TAKE THE BAIT when she hints around about all the things you don’t know. If a friend or relative was truly stressed out over a major life event that might have caused her to behave out of character, she would have no problem being honest with you about what was happening.  If she consistently uses this as an excuse but doesn’t share the details, you can be sure it’s because THERE IS NOTHING TO SHARE.  If you ask what IS going on, you’ll just be allowing her to change the subject from YOUR issues to HER issues.

            The fact is, that whatever is going on in her life is irrelevant, anyway.  It does not give her license to lie about you, be nasty or rude, make demands, control you, criticize you, or treat you badly in any way.  The best strategy here is to IGNORE all the hinting around, and tell her plainly that no matter WHAT is happening in her life, it still doesn’t give her an excuse to act badly towards you, and you still expect her to grow up, get a grip, control herself, take responsibility, and be accountable for her behavior.  Then get back to discussing YOUR issues without letting her get you off the track.

            These are just two versions of the very versatile Mystery Excuse.  All Mystery Excuses need to be taken with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism, because for the most part, they’re fabrications that are just not true.  It’s not true that you "misunderstood", it’s not true that you "don’t know what you’re talking about", and it’s not true that some strange, top-secret,  unknown events caused your abuser to lose control of herself and lie about you or otherwise mistreat you.

 

HOW TO SEE IT COMING

 

            How can we recognize the Mystery Excuse when we confront an offender?  It’s really very easy.  When her responses to our rebuke don’t add up and don’t make sense, there it is!  When the conversation becomes irrational, responses become vague and nonsensical, and straight answers don’t follow straight questions, some version of the Mystery Excuse is being used on us.     

            Many of us have spent our lives taking at face value the infinite variety of preposterous statements, vague answers, and evasive maneuvers that abusers come up with to justify their behavior.  When faced with a Mystery Excuse, often we become slightly confused, drop the subject, and let the offense slide. This is exactly what the abuser wants, and was trying to manipulate us into doing, when she tossed out the Mystery Excuse.  It takes some re-conditioning on our part to learn to stand firm and hold an abuser accountable for what she says while refusing to get sidetracked by various versions of the Mystery Excuse and  other nonsense in her repertoire. We need to stop accepting vague explanations and mysterious excuses for abuse, and be firm in our expectation of true repentance- an apology and change in behavior.

 

IF YOU HAVE BEEN TRAPPED BY WHAT YOU SAID, ENSNARED BY THE WORDS OF YOUR MOUTH, THEN DO THIS, MY SON, TO FREE YOURSELF, SINCE YOU HAVE FALLEN INTO YOUR NEIGHBOR’S HANDS:  GO AND HUMBLE YOURSELF; PRESS YOUR PLEA WITH YOUR NEIGHBOR!  ALLOW NO SLEEP TO YOUR EYES, NO SLUMBER TO YOUR EYELIDS.  FREE YOURSELF, LIKE A GAZELLE FROM THE HAND OF THE HUNTER, LIKE A BIRD FROM THE SNARE OF THE FOWLER….Proverbs 6:2-5

THERE ARE SIX THINGS THE LORD HATES, SEVEN THAT ARE DETESTABLE TO HIM: HAUGHTY EYES, A LYING TONGUE, HANDS THAT SHED INNOCENT BLOOD, A HEART THAT DEVISES WICKED SCHEMES, FEET THAT ARE QUICK TO RUSH INTO EVIL, A FALSE WITNESS WHO POURS OUT LIES AND A MAN WHO STIRS UP DISSENSION AMONG BROTHERS…..Proverbs 6:16-19

HE WHO WINKS MALICIOUSLY CAUSES GRIEF, AND A CHATTERING FOOL COMES TO RUIN….Proverbs 10:10

THE LORD DETESTS LYING LIPS, BUT HE DELIGHTS IN MEN WHO ARE TRUTHFUL….Proverbs 12:22

HE WHO WINKS WITH HIS EYE IS PLOTTING PERVERSITY; HE WHO PURSES HIS LIPS IS BENT ON EVIL….Proverbs 16:30

ALL A MAN’S WAYS SEEM INNOCENT TO HIM, BUT MOTIVES ARE WEIGHED BY THE LORD….Proverbs 16:2

A FALSE WITNESS WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED, AND HE WHO POURS OUT LIES WILL PERISH….Proverbs 19:9

ACQUITTING THE GUILTY AND CONDEMNING THE INNOCENT- THE LORD DETESTS THEM BOTH….Proverbs 17:15

THE WAY OF THE GUILTY IS DEVIOUS, BUT THE CONDUCT ON THE INNOCENT IS UPRIGHT….Proverbs 21:8

HE WHO CONCEALS HIS SINS DOES NOT PROSPER, BUT WHOEVER CONFESSES AND RENOUNCES THEM FINDS MERCY….Proverbs 28:13          

           

                       

 

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The Lord specifically called Sister Renee to minister to Adult Children, not their parents, estranged siblings or friends, abusive or abused spouses, or victims of other types of abuse, although what we write here can often be meaningful for those folks as well. Because of this, our ministry and website have a narrow focus which we will not be changing. We simply can't cover everything. In addition, it is not our purpose to help you re-establish contact with someone who felt it was necessary to cut you off for the sake of their own well-being. We do not keep a list of resources for estranged parents or any other type of abuse and suggest if you are sincerely interested in making amends with an estranged relative, you do an internet search for a website or group that will be more relevant to you. If you cannot find a group or site that you can relate to, we suggest you start your own, and bless other people in your position as well as find support for your personal issues. 
For Adult Children and others as well, please understand that we cannot give you personal advice concerning your particular family relationships.  We are not therapists or lawyers, we usually do not have enough information to form an opinion, and time does not permit us to give enough thought to each person's individual situation to do it justice. If you need personal advice, we urge you to contact the appropriate professional, depending on the problem you have- your minister, therapist, attorney, police department, local domestic violence hotline, etc. In reading this site, you acknowledge that nothing you might read here qualifies as or substitutes for professional advice. Please note we cannot recommend or refer you to a counselor and we do not have a list of therapists or recovery groups in your area. The only Counselor we recommend is the Holy Ghost, and we encourage you to read the Bible and learn for yourself what the Lord says about the issues we write about.
Our articles are strictly our personal opinions and testimonies and are not intended to give or offer any advice. All who access this site do so with the understanding that we are NOT professional counselors and we strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with your pastor or therapist and pray for the Lord's guidance before acting on anything we write on this site. Unfortunately, the abuse we discuss is all too common, inflicted on countless victims by countless perpetrators. All names and identifying details in our articles have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty. Any resemblance to a real person or persons whom you might know is strictly coincidental.