Sunday, July 30, 2017

Misconceptions About Abuse

In recent years we have seen many attempts to profile the kind of people who are likely to become abusers. I consider such a project to be foolish. There can be any number of reasons why someone would behave badly, in relationships or in anything else; and to think that all of these people would be similar to one another is ridiculous.

One concept constantly used is “Jeckyll And Hyde”: That the person would be one way sometimes and another way at other times. I do not see how that would be limited to abusers; nor do I see how that could have a single cause. In some cases the person would genuinely conflicted, or torn between incompatible influences. We see a lot of that for example in Russian people, who are torn between the “traditional” influences that are very brutal and misogynistic and the influences of Russia's better minds who fought such influences. There are other times when a person was raised in an abusive situation and hated it. Some have decided that abusive behavior is wrongful; but they do not know any other way. In some situations, when they come across a situation that they do not know how to handle, they are likely to slip back into the bad ways with which they have been raised. In neither such situation is the person evil; he is confused.

Then there is the claim that such people lack empathy. In a number of situations that may very well be true. However I have also seen empathic people become abusive. Sometimes a person would genuinely love the partner, only to have his bar buddies or workmates or family play Iago and stuff his head with a load of crap. They would say such things as that his feelings are childish or unmanly or obsessive, or that he owes it to his gender to beat women down, or else convince him that his partner is a bad person or is doing the wrong thing by him. This would result even in beautiful relationships becoming abusive. Once again, some people who mistreat others really do lack empathy. But there can be any number of situations in which an empathic person would become an abuser.

Then there is the claim that these people do not take responsibility for their actions. Once again, in some situations that really is the case. However it is not at all the case in a number of situations. There are many men who are abusive and think that what they are doing is right. They think such things as that women are evil or that his partner is evil; or that he owes it to other men to beat women down; or that love is for wimps. They may think that what they are doing creates strong children. Some most certainly do fail to take responsibility for their actions. But there are any number of others who think that what they are doing is responsible.

The claim that the culprit is low self-esteem or personality disorders is completely wrong. There are cultures where domestic violence is against the social norms, and of course in those places the only people who do it are people who violate social norms. However that is not where the bulk of abuse takes place. The bulk of abuse takes place in cultures where domestic violence is considered acceptable. Your average wife-beater is not a narcissist, a sociopath or a borderline. Your average wife-beater is your average Joe or Igor or Abdul or Praveem or Jamal who thinks that real men need to dominate women and “keep them in their place.”

In short, most of the thought on this subject is demonstrably wrong. And when we see something that is demonstrably wrong, we are going to see it lead to bad places. These wrongful beliefs have lead people to see abuse where it isn't and fail to see abuse where it is. The result has been an effort that has been misdirected. This misdirection has failed to help real victims, attacked all sorts of people who were not real abusers, and discredited feminism as such.


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