Platitude Cemetary: For Unhelpful Comments Said to Abuse Victims

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness, addiction, or abuse   (c) 2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

While abusers and abuse victims have some predictable commonalities with others who share their positions,  healthy responses are unique to each person.

Abuse is in a separate class from normal relational conflict.  Platitudes take a one-size-fits-all-problems approach.    

Platitudes are not harmless

The worst platitudes are those who send an abuser’s target back into the abusive relationship.  Even so-called innocent platitudes can encourage a victim to retreat into the shadows.  

Apathy, feeling helpless to change anything,  and false beliefs create platitudes. Good-hearted folks say them, uselessly trying to help.  Here are several that may sound familiar, and the good reasons to not repeat them anymore. 

12 platitudes to bury for good

“Time will heal.”   No, it won’t. Unless one escapes the abuse, time does not help.  The only way to recover from abuse is to stop it. After one escapes, becoming whole again requires more than time.

“It could be worse.”    This is a subjective statement.  It’s dismissive and unhelpful.  People in pain have substantial reason to care about their struggles and no need to invalidate the experiences as if they, as humans, do not matter. 

“It’s not about marrying the right person, it’s about being the right person.”   An abuser’s target already tries to “be the right person” to the point of losing herself, and sometimes her life.  

“Jesus said forgive 70 times 70.”    Forgiveness and trust are not the same animals.  We can forgive and say ‘no more’ at the same time.  John 8:58-59  John 2:23-25

“If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”   We better speak up! Otherwise, we become enablers and help protect the abuser. 

“Just give it to God” or “Pray harder.”   “Just” is a word of dismissal. It says the victim is spiritually weak and has no real cause to continue suffering. Besides, prayer is not a matter of begging. God hears us the first time.  Matthew 6:6-8

 “If you respect him, he will love you.”   Nah, he won’t.  Abuse is all about power and control.   

“God hates divorce.”  He also hates abuse, lying, slander, adultery, bragging, pride, and insolence. He loves the abused, brokenhearted, contrite, and troubled. He tells us to practice justice and help the oppressed.  Proverbs 6:16-19   Romans 1:28-32   Psalm 9:8-10

“There are two sides to every story.”  Everyone has their version, yes. The narcissist will see his/her entitlement, and fault the victim whether true or not.  The abuser’s side of the story is often a mix of regret, promises to change, tears of remorse,  even prayer, and submission to counseling. Missing are repentance, lasting change, deep understanding of the problem,  a blame-the-victim ceasefire,  and honest confession.  

“All couples have problems.”  Yes and no. All couples have times of disappointment, maybe even years of it. Not all couples have an abuser in the mix. This is beyond “couple problems.”  It is an abuser problem.  

“Let the past stay in the past.”  The past is often all an abuse victim has to present his/her case, to seek justice, or find the needed help. Even more so, the past shows us patterns. These can lead to better awareness for the victim and others. 

“God can save any marriage”  ie:  “God can change anyone.”   When a narcissist will not see his/her sin and is unwilling to change (despite words to the contrary), God will not force his salvation or Spirit on them.  1 John 1:8-9    Matthew 18: 17 

The next blog will offer options to these platitudes to arm you with truthful and effective responses. Stay tuned! 

Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians  4: 29

Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.



NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness, abuse, and addiction. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.
Most of these platitudes were borrowed from readers of

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