For World Mental Health Day tomorrow, the 10th October, I write not in support of abuse (and whatever your subjective idea of that is) but for awareness of the world that creates abusers and the justice system in which they are managed.
A world that grows humans who are so stressed, fearful, self loathing and unable to control their emotions that they hurt and control other people.
Those who have experienced controlling abuse may disagree, thinking their abuser was very controlled, very calculated and powerful. This is how they WANT to be and they do aim to control EVERY aspect of their lives including their partner and children. But this is because they feel totally out of control and afraid. Someone took their power once and they are never letting it go again.
I can see this from both sides as a victim and as a potential abuser. I have issues with control – I need to make sure my environment is safe and that I have control over what happens or I go into a state of anxiety. I lose my temper quickly and lash out when I feel out of control. But I am fortunate to be self aware, emotionally aware and socially aware enough to be able to work hard at breaking the cycle.
Abusers – mostly men – usually have low self esteem and lots of insecurity. Has anyone stopped to wonder WHY so many become controlling, jealous and possessive?
With many domestic abuse cases it’s also coupled with a good old pinch of misogyny – men who feel it’s their place and right to have a good little wife and let them be the ‘man’ of the house. This is another societal issue though.
Although, it’s interesting to note though that stats now show that 2 in 5 domestic abuse victims are men.
I think abusers have very little emotional and social awareness and are terrible at self reflection – or they have distorted self awareness and a case for moral subjectivism.
I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Look What you Made Me Do’ by Helen Walmsley-Johnson and reflecting back to the controlling relationship I witnessed growing up. What strikes me is that in situations like coercive control it becomes a somewhat symbiotic relationship – the abuse is gradual as the abuser essentially receives the feedback that the behaviour is acceptable. By staying in the relationship and succumbing to the control the abuser thinks this is what his partner needs. They probably think they are helping.
They are usually drawn to partners with submissive characteristics – not intentionally, I don’t think, but because of their strong need to control their own lives and also fear of rejection and hurt by somebody mentally stronger. A fair few are probably narcissists too and enjoy the unwavering, intense love and adoration from their partner.
The control then becomes like a drug and they keep pushing and pushing until they are stopped. So can abusers, who think they are right, be blamed any more than the victim who knows it is wrong and yet tolerates it?
I want to be clear I am not blaming victims here or taking away from what a terrible crime it is. I still bear the scars. BUT I don’t think we should lock up abusers and throw away the key which seems to be the general consensus at the moment.
It’s great that people are coming out in the open with their abuse stories but instead of vilifying the abusers we need to start to understand how abuse works and why. The us and them culture that’s being created around abuse is not helpful – it only feeds the problem more.
I find it extremely noteworthy that I tried to find books written by abusers and I found none. All the search results, no matter how I phrased the search terms, were of domestic abuse charities and books or stories written by victims.
Is it because nobody wants to hear their story or they’re too ashamed to tell it? Maybe they don’t understand themselves well enough to explain it?
So what do I hope to gain from this article? I hope to add a little bit to the mix to help us evolve into a more empathic society using more mental health based corrective systems, more efforts in empowering people not to tolerate abuse and more focus on empathic, respectful parenting. If we raise children respectfully in a healthy home environment, send them to schools that use positive discipline and handle crime with understanding we would have less crime, less hate, less suffering and a more productive society as well as an improved economy. A step towards the coveted world peace.
Some might think it strange that a health and parenting blogger writes about abuse but what could be more detrimental to the health whichever end of it you’re on? And what bigger impact can you have on future adults than how you parent?
I would LOVE to hear your contributions and opinions on this and apologies in advance if I manage to offend anyone!