Newton’s third law of motion (one of three physical laws), can be summed up simply: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Think about a ball bouncing around in a pinball machine. The ball is first acted upon by the player forcing it through the entry shoot. The ball cannot stop “reacting” and bouncing from one obstacle to the next until it makes its way to the bottom of the machine. Many times, even after making it to the bottom and close to the exit hole, the ball is acted upon by a skilled player adept at using the paddles. The ball relentlessly gets knocked back into play. Eventually, the player and the paddles fail to make contact, and the game finally ends. The ball escapes play.

The game of pinball explained using Newton’s third law of motion is the perfect analogy of abuse. The ball is the victim/survivor being acted upon by the abuser/player. The victim is bounced around emotionally, physically and verbally by the abuser. The victim shouts, screams, and begs for mercy. The victim can’t stop reacting until the abuse ends; it’s simple physics!

If we all understood and remembered this, a victim/survivor’s reaction and outrage toward their abuser could be easily explained. But many people who have (thankfully) never been abused physically, emotionally, spiritually, or sexually often ask: “Why can’t you just get over it. Why can’t you just let it go already.”

The answer is simple: it’s impossible and defies science. Even if the last blow was inflicted weeks, months, or even years before, if the victim/survivor has not reacted, the last blow continues to inflict pain as if it happened seconds ago.

The act of communicating what happened IS a necessary REACTION to the ACTION of abuse. Allow your friend to communicate what happened. Do not judge your friend. Do not tell your friend to move faster or get over it faster. It may take many days, weeks, months, or years of communicating the story before peace is found, because I believe the length of time a person suffers alone in their pain is proportional to the amount of time needed to communicate the pain and suffering. If they suffered alone for 20 years, it may take 20 years to purge themselves of the pain. If they suffered for 6 months, it may only take 6 months to purge themselves. Recovery should never be rushed or forced. Like grieving the death of someone you love, the process is different for us all.

It’s vital that we offer ourselves as outlets to those who have been abused. The sooner the victim/survivor speaks, the sooner he/she can get through the pain of the action and find peace.

And the next time someone tells you to just “get over” it, explain to them that you would if you could change science. You could if you were not alive. You could if you were just a dummy with no heart, mind, or spirit that needed time to react and heal.


abuse, Child abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Family, Forgiveness, Friends, Health, Journaling, Kids, Lessons, Love, Mental Health, Narcissist, NPD, Peace, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, Relationships, Self Improvement, Sociopaths, Spirituality, Writing
, ,

Join the conversation! 22 Comments

  1. very well thought out and nicely illustrated argument


  2. Reblogged this on Simon Sundaraj-Keun.


  3. Hi Paula, I saw this on Reflections Of Life Thus Far. 🙂 coming from abuse I’m really glad I got to read this post!
    This year I’m turning 45 and have decided once and for all that its time for me to put my past to rest. I tried to commit suicide at 14 and again 2 years ago. Blogging has helped heal me in more ways than one. Your post helps even more. Hugs to you….. BTW: My names Paula also! Xx


  4. Reblogged this on Reflections on Life Thus Far and commented:
    Excellent explanation of why abused people aren’t able to just “get over it” and be well. Great for anyone who has ever dealt with insensitive remarks from people too about length of time to heal.


  5. Pinball is just the perfect analogy. I really enjoyed this, and much as “this” can be enjoyed.


  6. This IS one of your best, I agree! I’ve been that pinball since the day I was born to the sociopathic narcissist father. This analogy is so perfect. Each time I’ve finally escaped another player has come to pick up the game. Each time the player is more and more skilled. At 50 years old the final most skilled champion sociopathic narcissist played. And I actually was convinced that I was enjoying the game, being poinged here and there with the bright lights and bells and whistles to mask the incredible pain and confusion. Each of his “episodes” was another hit, pinging me back into the game. It was only when I stopped reacting inside myself, showed no emotion whatsoever, just sort of lazily rolled here and there blankly staring, ignoring, showing no emotion, that this champion player started losing his edge slowly and I finally dropped down at the opening of grace into that little trough of peace.

    Now, the real reaction is taking place. Now, the healing from having to become emotionless in order to be released. Now, comes the communicating and expressing and releasing of all that fear, anger, and incredible hurt. Releasing all shame and guilt by talking about it to people who will listen without judgement or advice. And I find myself still, sitting in the little trough, the game over. No one wil ever play this pinball machine again.

    With your help, Paula and all who read here, I can be something different and new. And I sit and wait and know that the time will come when that little hard steel ball turns into a life of meaning, a life initiated by my own heart, and held gently in grace and truth. Sit now, and wait, and let it heal into this. Thank you Paula, as I write through these tears….


  7. A loud amen!! Came by via One Hot Mess(age) and think I’ll grab a mug and stay awhile. Thank you for this.


  8. Reblogged this on One Hot Mess(age) and commented:
    This is so very true…so very true! An excellent post!


  9. This is so excellent that I must reblog it!


  10. This is one of your best postings ever and so absolutely true! I also believe the amount of time to recover is proportional to the amount of time that suffering occurred. I think your posting gives hope to all of us who have suffered abuse- that our responses and reactions are o.k. and importantly- they are reasonable and understandable. After living with abuse, you can lose sight of such things. Thanks, Paula!


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: