I think many of us abused folks know stories about the terrible childhood of our abusers, about their various medical issues, about all the side effects of the pills they have to take which make them shitty human beings, about that car crash or that time they got robbed or bullied or whatever it was. A popular misconception that I am battling myself atm is how this does not excuse abuse. I have stressed the importance of owning your own shit.
One common characteristic of abusers is that they deflect blame. They do not discuss what went wrong and take steps to ensure it does not happen again. They cast themselves as a victim of whatever circumstance suits them if they acknowledge things went wrong at all and that’s that. So they do not own their shit and likely make you own it instead. This is why it is ab-use, the wrong way to use something or rather someone.
The trouble here in my opinion is we harbour a wrong sort of compassion. We make excuses from them we would not make for ourselves. We go back to the stories I described in the first sentence and obviously the past of the abuser has a way to shape their current actions. Normally our thought process ends here.
I think we need to think further. The process so far might be somewhat acceptable if we are talking about a small child or a pet doing hurtful things. However normally we then teach them that no you can not hit your younger sibling because they stole your toy. Doggie can also not bite because it is afraid and we all really work hard on teaching cats some manners. So with pets and children we demand more from them, we offer training and support but we do not let them get away with it. The difference is in these instances we are normally in a position of authority and we are working hard on using that wisely.
With our abusers we should normally be equals or even below them in hierachy. So we do not train them. But neither should we take their shit. Abuse isn’t any less asocial because it’s done by someone we should respect. If they are off age it’s on them to (wo)man up and work on their destructive tendencies. Of course we should be patient and understanding as they work through their darkest sides should they choose this path. But normally they do not do this. They just expect us to accept them calling us names, neglecting us, ignoring us, gaslighting us, lying, manipulating us and the list goes on.
They may have a myriad of reason why we should accept things as they are but in the end no reason should make us accept abuse. Then we take part in letting the abuse continue. By enabling an abuser we contribute to letting an abusive cycle continue.
If your abuser had a bad childhood nothing stops them from seeking help dealing with it. Giving you a bad time in return is reflecting a weakness of character we should not stand for. If your abuser had some other traumatic event in their lifes its the same story: that’s what therapy is for. And finally if there is a medical/neurological reason why they are behaving this way (medication, brain injury, personality disorder…) then you need to create a safe space all the more.
I will give you a story illustrating this point: some relatives sisters husbands in law whatever (lets call them A) once chopped wood. As they did this one piece of wood went out of control and smashed into their skull crushing part of the frontal lobe of the brain. After that A frequently had extremely violent outbursts, would occasionally not recognise their spouse (B) and so forth. Injuries to the brain happen to change personality. Really scary stuff.
So what did B do? They could not stay as their partner would beat them and was generally unpredictable. A very unsafe environment. For the sake of this story let’s assume our brain puddinged A was a doting spouse. before that fateful day. In that case they themselves would surely not have wanted their partner B spending time with such a violent and unpredictable person. And yet there was nothing to be done to fix the situation and no one to blame for having intentionally messed anything up. Things just sadly went horribly pear shaped.
So B does not live with A anymore but as far as I know they are still legally married and the B makes sure that As needs such as food, clothing, shelter, hygiene and so forth are met. (I seem to remember the people taking care of A are physically strong and trained medical staff as to limit the amount of harm that person can possibly do.) I have not seen A ever since, I do not know what happened to them other than hearsay. I know B is now in an intimate and committed relationship with someone else. One of the rare instances I might approve of polygamy.
I do think B handled their partners injury exemplary. They did not victimise themselves to someone who has clearly and drastically lost their personality and became a very dangerous person in the process. They still make sure A is cared for in honour of the person A used to be and in adherence to the legal binding B has to A. B gets on with their life as good as they can. In my mind they are faithful to their spouse. It must be terribly painful to loose a spouses spirit like that and still have the body around as such a (in wrong circumstances literally) painful reminder of what used to be.
The bottom line of this story (and the entire post) is that the abuser may truly not even be accountable but in the end they still need to be prevented from harming other people. No problem of theirs is big enough to have you subject yourself to being harmed.