My abuser says I am the abuser!
If I call out the abuser for his abusive accusations, am I not also an accuser? Yes; but there is a difference between an unjust accusation and a justified accusation.
An accusation is justified when the person being accused has merited that accusation by his behavior. Here are some examples:
- police prosecutors justly accuse someone of crime when they are confident that person has broken the criminal law
- a parent or teacher justly accuses a child of misbehavior when they are confident that the child has misbehaved
- a married person may justly accuse his or her spouse of deceit, cruelty, brutality, hard-heartedness, infidelity, etc.
The abuser, when justly accused in this way, often claims that he is being abused and unjustly accused. This is a tactic of fighting. The abuser fights in order to resist having to take responsibility for his bad behavior. Spewing false accusations against his accuser is one of the abuser’s most effective tactics of fighting because
- it distracts attention from the justified accusation
- it may cause the victim to doubt herself and go back onto the mousewheel of self-modification
- if the victim stands her ground and pushes back against the false accusations, the situation may begin to look to outsiders like a mutually level playing field where two equals are fighting. (This is very useful to the abuser when he’s recruiting allies.)
If the abuser can cast the victim’s (true) accusations as “fighting” then it’s easier to (falsely) claim that he is being abused. The tables are turned.
The abuser’s distorted belief system
We have discussed how an abuser fights back when he is justly accused. He counters by claiming that he is the victim, and he may actually (kind of, sort of) believe that he IS being abused. How can this be? The abuser’s idea that he is being abused arises from his distorted belief system — his presumption of his right to control his partner and her obligation to comply with his demands. He believes she has no right to call him on his wrongful deeds and attitudes. He fights because he deems she is fighting Him and must stop!
An abuser holds the bedrock belief that he is a superior being who entitled to special privileges including but not limited to
- the right to be lazy about his personal responsibilities and to let/force others to pick up the slack
- the right have power over his spouse
- the right to falsely accuse his spouse in order to intimidate her.
If the wife tells him (quite justly) that he is abusing her, by his lights she is abusing him because in making that accusation she is attacking his core belief system — his conviction that he is entitled to have power over her because he is superior and she is inferior.
But there is nothing wrong in telling someone that their core beliefs are wrong — and that the wrongful behavior which is the outgrowth of those core beliefs is unjust and immoral and hurtful. That is a just accusation to make, when it is true.
[adapted from this comment of mine on a post back in Sept 2014]
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Related posts on this blog:
And a very good post at Lundy Bancroft’s blog: