The Problems With How Our Society Treats Abuse Victims
By Melissa K. Vassar-Belloso
So a little while ago I did another reflection called “Why is it Always my Fault?” in response to an incident with my parents and it got me thinking about something. One of the reasons it got me thinking is that I realized it was indeed still bothering me. I couldn’t figure out how I was somehow made into the bad guy in a situation where I was clearly in a situation where I was reacting to an abusive figure in my life. I have literally not even a shred of silver lining left in that relationship. My father hates me and when he ropes me in he just acts like a jerk and talks about how much money I owe him. I can’t recall one time where he’s actually properly greeted me, acted concerned about me or expressed any love or pride for me. But somehow in a situation where I did nothing but react to what he claimed was a “joke” negatively and didn’t yuck it up like there was no tomorrow, I became mean. I became the bad guy. It became my fault and he was made into a victim by my mother.
So it made me think seriously. Am I mean? Am I a horrible person? Should I be giving a person respect just because they decided to fertilize the egg I came out of? The answer is no obviously. You don’t just get entitled to love or respect. You’re supposed to earn it and you’re supposed to be decent enough to give it to others if you want it yourself. So if you are an abuser, you don’t deserve the respect one would give to a housefly. But more importantly I realized this was not just part of the cycle of abuse but also a huge failure on how our society handles abuse in general. We have a world and even a justice system that shames people constantly for talking about domestic abuse and then wonders why so many people bottle things up for years or just straight up stick around and let themselves get beat into a soulless pulp.
People shouldn’t be shamed for speaking up about abuse and they shouldn’t be brainwashed into continuing to put up with it out of fear or the sense they owe their abusers. They shouldn’t be punished for trying to stand up for themselves and take back pieces of their life. If anyone deserves to be happy in that scenario it’s them, not the asshole that’s been sitting around getting their rocks off abusing them over the years. They do not deserve a shred of pity. They deserve to have to sit there and deal with what a small and disgusting person they are. They deserve to have to hear every single day how horrible, flawed and worthless they are. They deserve to lay there at night and think about not wanting to wake up in the morning.
I think what I realized ticked me off the most was the betrayal, not from my father, because I expect him to be an awful person at this point but from my mother. A few weeks ago we talked for hours about my journey dealing with abuse. I poured my heart to her about how I felt and wanting to move on and she nodded and acted like she was behind me 200%. That was obviously not the case. If you want to stand behind anyone, whether its your child,friend or whoever than do it but if you’re just telling me what you think I want to hear so you can throw me under the bus a few weeks later than tell me you aren’t interested. Don’t yank my chain and put me two steps backwards. That’s damaged trust you aren’t going to repair. If you’re on the abuser’s side then say that and I can move on and find true supporters elsewhere. Likewise, if you don’t want to talk to me, don’t gossip about it. Just tell me that and we’re done talking. I’m not sure if it’s naive or not but I just prefer you tell me the truth. Don’t sugarcoat and don’t say what you don’t mean.
If you’re one of those people who pipes up with “Why did they take so long to report it?” when someone alleges abuse, please allow me to answer that question for you. The reason people don’t report abuse is because they are scared,trapped and are made to feel even more victimized when they speak up and try to help themselves. The reason is because our whole society and even our own homes become prisons where we have no allies. The reason is because of years of lies, brainwashing, broken trust and bullying. Instead of judging, our society needs to step up and start helping victims instead of making them feel like they’re the villains for trying to live happier lives. I am not the bad guy. I’m not the one who sat at every graduation looking disgusted. I’m not the one who never said a kind word. I’m not the one who made every child in his home feel worthless. I’m not the one who only cares about the money people owe me when they’re in the midst of a huge rut in life. I’m an abuse victim. I’m not mean. I’m cautious and cornered and I have a good reason to feel that way.
If you’re one of those people who likes to ask “Why didn’t you just leave?”, I’ve got something for you too. A lot of abuse victims don’t have that option. In my case I’m unemployed and disabled. I have nowhere to go. Many abuse victims stay because they don’t have anywhere to go and society pressures them into thinking they owe the abuser and are the problem. They are bullied into feeling the abuser is doing them a favor. Don’t ask why someone isn’t leaving. Ask yourself why you aren’t staying and helping them get out, even when some of them are blatantly reaching out a hand to you and pleading for that help. Ask yourself why society insists on abusers getting compassion while they drag abuse victims through the mud. And then ask yourself why you let that garbage mentality leak into your own home.
If you’re a parent standing by an abusive parent, expect your children to be screwed up adults. They will have no idea how to form relationships. Your children will watch any partner they’re in a romantic relationship with like a hawk and never be able to fully trust them. They may even sabotage the relationships, purposely go for abusive partners or become abusive themselves. Your child may even attempt or commit suicide if you convince them thoroughly enough they are a problem. Don’t blame them. Stand up and take a bow because you had a part in that. If you aren’t part of a solution, the only other alternative is being part of the problem. Doing nothing is as bad as being part of the abuse because you’re letting it happen.
Expect your spouse to have a barren funeral. I am not going to my father’s funeral because at this point I have no father. What pushed me over that edge was one sentence and you may not have said it yet but if you’re trying to justify your abusive spouse, that’s a time bomb. One day you will say something that seems tiny and it will break your child. They will lose the one shred of wanting to fix the relationship and just hate them and possibly you in the process. Watch your words and choose your actions carefully. Don’t expect them to grow thicker skin or get over it as adults. The scars are there whether you can see them or not and damage can still be done.
A lot of people may think this is a harsh and dramatic approach but this is the truth. This is what abuse does to people and this is what you’re doing to your child every single time you choose to look the other way about an abusive spouse. I am the adult you are the building your child into and that’s if they even stick around to get to adulthood. Abusers should not be put on pedestals and coddled under any circumstance. Abuse victims shouldn’t be grilled and vilified for wanting a better outlook on life. There is no excuse for abusing any human being,especially a child in any form whether it’s physical,verbal or psychological. If you think standing up to your abusive spouse is too difficult or not necessary, think of how difficult it will be to bury your child because they killed themselves or how painful it will be to watch your child go through a lifetime of failed relationships. Think about how difficult it would be to watch your child’s spirit get broken until there’s nothing left. Think about the fact that if you tell them something they’ll walk away and take it to heart and that will be the last real conversation you get with them. Is it still too difficult to stand up for them? I certainly hope not.
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