I am increasingly aware of the society push to believe abusers ‘don’t know what they are doing is wrong’. And making excuses for them. Or rationalising, blaming mental health, or blaming a traumatic past.
It’s all very unwise and incorrect.
I was very thankful, to receive this message from Dina McMillan – Social Psychologist and Relationship Expert (Ph.D., Stanford University). Black American. I specialize in domestic violence prevention and recovery.
To see Dina’s book ‘But He Says He Loves Me: How to Avoid Being Trapped in a Manipulative Relationship’ – see link @ http://www.amazon.com/But-Says-Loves-Manipulative-Relationship/dp/1741751969/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
In her professional experience, in all her confidential interviews with abusers….
“They were all aware of what they were doing, and didn’t change their behaviour.”
I discussed this in counselling today. And this was confirmed as 100% correct.
What I have come to know, is many fail to realise – in making excuses for abusive people, in pretending they are not aware, and therefore not accountable or responsible, they are enabled, and will not change.
Abusive people, won’t change, unless something forces them to change. No amount of enabling and failing to address their issues, is going to change them. Or stop the abuse.
Also people need to realise, many abusers have personality disorders. These are pervasive disorders, formed before adulthood, that involve a lack of empathy, remorse or conscience. Sure, they can fake these, because they mirror other people’s behaviours. But, inside – they have no remorse. No conscience. No willingness to change. Their behaviours reward what they want. And they want to hurt people. Their lack of empathy, allows them to harm people, with no sense of shame, or guilt.
And it is needed to be understood, personality disorders do not render people incapable of not being abusive. They make choices. They know it’s wrong. They do it anyway. They are still fully conscious and aware of their choices and the harm they cause.
So, when some people choose to believe these abusive people do ‘not know what they are doing’…. they are actually completely wrong. And not only are they invalidating the victims, and denying the victims of the truth…. they are failing to help the abusers.
Some of the ways we know abusers are fully conscious and aware of their actions being wrong… is they lie about it. They abuse in secret. They manipulate their victims to believe the victim is the issue, or to blame, or deserves the abuse. They gaslight. They project blame. They deny. They wouldn’t do any of these, if they were unaware that their actions, were wrong.
Making abusers aware of their actions, and that we know it is conscious, intentional abuse…. is not punishing them. It is not being unkind to them. It is actually needed, for any hope of them stopping. Making them face the reality and fullness of the harm they have caused, is actually compassion for the abuser. Because this is needed to change.
Abusive people need to face the reality of who they are. They need to learn to feel the shame and guilt, healthy people feel, when they do wrong.
This is not about punishment, or revenge, or retaliation, or ‘karma’. This is about doing what is needed, for any hope of an abuser changing. And the abuse not continuing on, harming more people.
So for all the people who are deluded to believe they are showing compassion, grace, mercy, kindness, or anything similar….. by making excuses, rationalising, minimizing, avoiding, ignoring… the intentionality and conscious abusive behaviours, are not in fact showing any of those virtues. To either the victims…. or their abusers.
~ Lilly Hope Lucario
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