you should not be encouraging them to do things that their abuser might use to escalate the violence, like keeping things around the house that could be used as weapons, hoarding money in secret locations around the space that they share with their abuser, etc.
Giving someone access to resources, non-judgmental support & understanding, a safe place to go = great. But fuck. It’s not your place to be like “hide money in your walls! Use household cleaners as weapons!” when you have no idea whether that will help or harm someone.
Abuse survivors get all kinds of unsolicited advice, even when they are still in abusive situations. It’s usually well-meaning, but not always appropriate. The point at which abusers often become the MOST violent and threatening is when they know their victim is planning on leaving and/or wising up to their abuse. Just… be careful, okay? Okay.
Similarly, don’t antagonize the abuser, either via direct confrontation or anonymously. If the abuser is harassing you, then certainly do what you need to do to protect yourself, but unnecessarily provoking them is only going to result in further harm to the victim. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for someone who is being abused is be as unobjectionable as possible; this will allow you to stay in contact with the victim and be in a position to help them when the time is right. Never make someone else’s abuse about yourself.
Y’know, as I look at the post that prompted this I think that not only is all the stuff above true, but that there’s something just….a combination of naive and self-centered about basically creating “harm reduction” tips for living in an abusive relationship. As if through a complicated system of internet protocol and things hidden in the walls, one could live safely with an abuser.
It’s so hard, I know, to walk that line of being supportive and unobjectionable and non-judgement and just being there for someone so you can support them when they are ready to leave, but there’s this disturbing enabling element at play when your “support” is basically both endangering your friend and enabling the kinds of destructive thoughts that the abuser is encouraging in them.
Bolding mine for some really, really important points.
That’s the other thing that bothered me about that list, but I wasn’t sure how to articulate it. The implicit idea seems to be that an abusive situation can be managed by the victim, which of course it can’t - that’s the point of an abusive situation, the abuser is constantly removing any control the victim might have over their situation.
Of course there ARE things you can do for someone who is in an abusive situation and not ready to leave yet - but they mostly have to do with YOU maintaining contact with that person, being there to offer them rides, etc when they need them, and so on. Not telling the victim what to do and encouraging them to think of their situation as something they can manage by deleting their browser history and paying for everything with cash. I’ve been there, and that was my exact logic when I was refusing to leave - that I just needed to be more careful, that the whole thing could be managed. I was wrong, because I was being gaslit by abusers who actively encouraged me to think in those terms. What I needed was people who could help ground me in reality again and not encourage the delusion that everything would be fine if I just squirrelled away money in the walls.
It doesn’t matter what your aunt did when she was in an abusive situation. This is not the time for you to show off what you learned in first aid class, or what you read about abuse survivors doing in books. When someone is in an abusive situation it’s their real life on the line.
As always, actually helping people is more complicated than hitting reblog and indulging in some Modern Jackassery.
Yeah. The whole list read the same to me as “How to avoid being raped!” which puts up a bunch of small, last ditch things to protect oneself from what is, at heart, a broken situation.
I’ve had to get several friends out of abusive situations. Both in person and at a distance. The #1 thing they needed was a supportive person who would help them recognize the shit for what it is, to counteract the gaslighting.
The emotional hurdle to realize you’re not insane, but you’re surrounded by an abusive person, and very probably, a GROUP of people enabling the abuser… that’s the biggest one always. After that, then it’s all physical logistics - being able to get them out of the space to somewhere safe.
And yeah, maybe those small things might help, as much as remembering to tie your shoes might help you run away from an angry dog… but it’s never as important as the decision that you need to leave, now.
The illusion, the hope, that it will get better, that maybe this is as bad as it will ever get, or that it won’t get that bad again? That’s the first wall and any thing that holds up that illusion doesn’t actually help the survivor- it enables the illusion.
Reblogging for content and as a reminder for myself, in terms of abusive relationships and other people.
I’ve been through some things myself but it is super selfish to just hit reblog and perpetuate a belief that abuse can be managed. I realize that sometimes I just speak out in anger because I’m reminded of my own helplessness and want to prevent people from experiencing what I have experienced.
But that’s what abusers are so good at. They create situations where they don’t kill you but they need you to validate their experience. And depending on the situation, sometimes you need to keep your abuser around for survival and play a tit for tat game. It’s not as easy as leaving or kicking them out.
The idea of policing people to call them out on their abuse is a good one and I’m glad this was posted.