I tend to write from a lot of perspectives, and sometimes, those perspectives are seemingly contradictory.
That’s because humanity is complex, and there are many times when one thing will be true, and other times when the opposite will be true.
AND, there are times when two things that seem to be the opposite are both true at the same time.
And that’s what I’m going to talk about today.
I wrote a while back that when people abuse you, it’s their fault, not yours.
That NO ONE is to blame for their own abuse.
Which, inevitably, brought the self-appointed Personal Accountability Brigade (PAB) out in full force, to reprimand me. Because OF COURSE people are to blame for their own abuse, if they stay. They are consenting to allow someone to treat them that way!
That’s not how this works.
I’ll make an attempt to explain, although I’m pretty sure I’ll never get through to the PAB folk.
Here’s what one said:
You have a positive moral duty to care for yourself.
However, failing in that duty is simply failure. It does not put you at fault that someone harmed you. It puts you at fault for failing in protecting yourself.
An analogy: Someone takes a swing at you. You’re surprised. It lands.
Not your fault, right?
Now, that same someone takes another swing, and you see it coming, even expect it. It lands as well.
MAYBE you didn’t even try to fight them off. Maybe you did and you failed, because you’re a terrible fighter or because you’re still in shock, or because past trauma means that you don’t handle violence well, or because you still don’t really believe what’s happening.
Is it your fault?
It’s STILL their fault for throwing the punch, even though you failed to block it.
Abuse in relationships is the same.
And personal accountability is important too.
Thing is, humans are not perfect. And being not perfect still does not make someone to blame for their abuse. It just makes them not perfect, and maybe gives them something to learn from—once they have healed enough to learn that lesson.
In all, there are five points I would like to make, and for you to think on:
- Abusive behavior is always 100% on the abuser (justified or not).
- Protecting yourself through healthy boundaries and removing yourself from harmful situations is an important skill to learn.
- Consenting to abuse does not change the abuser’s culpability.
- Failing in protecting yourself is simply failing in protecting yourself.
- There CAN be multiple points of responsibility and failure in a single act.
There is zero logic in the premise as the PAB folk present it:
If someone hits you, it’s their fault. If you allow it, it’s your fault.
Fault does NOT shift that way.
Person A has let Person B belittle them for years.
Maybe because Person A was treated that way when they were young, and that’s what they have been taught to expect, or believe they deserve. Maybe Person A just loves Person B so much that they accept it, and it’s become their truth, or “just how things are.” Maybe Person A is just terrified of leaving Person B.
Whatever the reasons, here are the facts as I see them:
- Person B is still being an asshole, and is to blame for belittling Person A to begin with.
- Person A is not protecting themselves.
- Person A staying with Person B does not change the fact that Person B could stop being an asshole at any time, and instead continues belittling Person A.
- Person A is failing in their primary duty to themselves, to protect and preserve their own heart and mind.
- Person A is responsible and accountable for failing to protect themselves, not for Person B’s belittling abuse, which is 100% on Person B.
It’s that simple.
If you let someone treat you badly, you hold blame to yourself for not protecting you. You do not take on their blame as well.
This is a hill I’m happy to take a stand and die on.