On Trial – Preamble

6, April 2011 at 5:01 AM (scapegoated) (, , , , , )

It is my belief that a partner has an obligation to talk to the other, especially about those issues with which the other is most concerned. That partner cannot tell the other they have no right to have concerns, or that they have no right to ask about anything, or that their concerns have been sufficiently addressed, or that they have been concerned about something too long, or for the wrong reasons, or anything else of this sort.

In the letter which inspired this blog (see About), my former partner stated that he feels “put on trial” when I ask him questions about things which are concerns to me. This is called blame-shifting, diversion, and trivialising. Instead of owning that he does not talk to me and acknowledging that I have a right to know and ask about things which concern me, instead of understanding that with every instance or threat of further or more intensified withholding/underloading, he shifts the blame for everyone’s bad feelings onto me for asking too many questions, and diverts attention away from his behaviour by changing the subject to what a great big questioner I am. Further, he trivialises my increasing (and increasingly frustrated) attempts to get information about what concerns me by mocking my purposes for asking (that is, I am not actually a person with concerns which are being always resisted, rejected, and/or constantly left un-adressed, but rather I am taking upon myself the role of a lawyer or judge seeking to convict a criminal. Why? Not sure. Because I’m just irrational, or power-trippy, or I enjoy everyone feeling like crap at the end of the day? His letter doesn’t say).

One of the most frustrating and infuriating things abusive people do is blame-shift about the abuse itself. When their partner tries to confront them about their behaviour, they turn it around right back on them and accuse the confronting person of being the abuser for calling their behaviour abusive– wait, does that sentence make any sense? Neither does this kind of blame-shifting. It would make me feel completely crazy. And defensive. And defeated. And disappointed in my partner. I came to him hoping he would care and get help or work with me to make things right. Instead he took all the words out of my mouth and put them (inaccurately) in his own.

Recently I used the word “coercive” to describe how he forces my compliance with or deference to his needs or point of view by threatening to leave the relationship– which would also mean I would be thrown suddenly into a situation where I would not know where my son’s or my next meal would come from, nor would we know for how long we could live in our apartment if I couldn’t find a really well-paid full time job within two weeks or less. See, in order to coerce, one must have some kind of power with which to intimidate another. It is not difficult to understand that the power to cause someone and their child to become hungry or homeless could be used to intimidate another.  Now I have been informed in a six-page typewritten statement of near-innocence and near-total victimisation that it is actually I, who has nothing over this guy, who has been coercing him. With what power, I’d really like to know. But no doubt the word sounded good to him, and now that he’s been introduced to the concept of coercion as an abusive tactic, he immediately posits himself as the victim of it.

So fine, let’s put myself and his coercion statement on trial. My alleged crime, which to begin with can plainly be identified as a statement of blame (“You guilted me into doing something I didn’t want to do!” vs. “I have feelings of guilt when I talk to you, so I avoid talking to you in an attempt to avoid feeling guilty.”), is a perfect example of him taking a recent expression of my feelings about his power in the relationship and re-directing it at me– without ever, ever discussing at all my original complaint, of course. And thus he slithers away without having to connect his own guilt with his own actions. Classic.

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