Telling the Truth is Not Abuse

21, April 2011 at 11:53 PM (angry or frustrated, scapegoated) (, , , , , , )

It is widely established and confirmed and written about everywhere that one of the most classic things an abuser does is claim to be themselves abused by the person they are abusing. This is blame-shifting, manipulative, diverting and crazymaking. My ex was no exception to the employment of this tactic to avoid taking responsibility for his own actions. Toward the end, one of the things he brought up a few times and wrote in his final summation of our relationship as an example of how much I hurt him was that I had early in our relationship made the statement, “You were fucking jerking off to porn!” (He says I stated it, that I did not yell, but yet he added the italics and exclamation point.) He says I made a disgusted face while I said it. This is probably true, because I am disgusted by men who look at porn. I am even more disgusted by men who look at porn frequently, in lieu of having real interactions with real people. I am even more disgusted by men who save collections of porn on their computers. But I am probably most disgusted by my ex, who knew when he asked me out that he was looking at porn at least once and up to (he claims) three times daily, had built many collections of hundreds of photos and videos on his computer, and was well aware in advance of asking me out that I had very strong and outspoken oppositions to the sexual exploitation and abuse of anyone. It is something I put out there, on the table for everyone to see right away, in order to not get involved with and especially not asked out by people who engage in or support the sexual exploitation of others.

Whenever I asked how he could have been so dishonest with me about this, or why he would even ask someone like me out when there are plenty of other potential girlfriends out there who might not feel as strongly as I do about the subject, he said he expected me to be more tolerant, more forgiving, more patient, and more understanding. There we have again further blame-shifting, diversion and, probably worst of all, a sense of entitlement. When I asserted that it was wrong for him to have been dishonest with himself and me by knowingly getting involved with someone who had a moral opposition to how he spent his time alone, and withholding that fact from me until after we were already involved, suddenly the Great Big Concern shifts to the many ways in which I have failed to be a Good Person and Loving Partner (um, excuse me, but was he being a Good Person and Loving Partner to begin with?): in his view, the only reason his use of porn– and, I would later find out: strip clubs, attendance at bachelor parties with hired women, having as a best friend a guy who worked at a porn magazine (and hanging out at his workplace), helping his friend pick out porn videos to rent (he claims he did not rent any himself), seeking out and streaming the most pornographic movies he could find on netflix for masturbating to, going to a 3-D porn movie on campus, scrutinising and studying naked women for the sake of “making art”, taking the opportunity when his girlfriends weren’t around to masturbate to sex scenes in mainstream movies or downloaded porn videos, working at a live theatre and signing up for cabaret shows involving women having to take their clothes off purely for spectacle, taking screen shots to masturbate to from dvds played on his computer of people making out in tv shows, drawing sexual pictures for himself to masturbate to (is anyone else noticing a pattern here? because he says it’s just me only seeing what I “want to”; I wonder what his friends, family, therapist, and future girlfriend(s) would see if they had full knowledge of this guy’s history! [and I must assume that he hasn’t told me about everything])– he claims the only reason all of this continued to be a controversy in our relationship is because I am intolerant, unforgiving, impatient, and stubbornly ignorant– that is what he didn’t know about me, that is what I allegedly failed to reveal about myself before he asked me out, that is what should have compelled me to decline his invitation (because I was supposed to be a mind-reader?); not only was he, by virtue of being a man, entitled to use women for his own sexual gratification (and as long as he felt bad about it, he was paying “penance” and could therefore keep doing it), he expected (was entitled) to never be called to task for it– he deserved (believed himself entitled) to date whomever he chose regardless of her personal beliefs, and having chose me, he expected (felt entitled to get) a much better girlfriend out of me than that! And thus I find myself in the defensive position, and we are no longer talking about his dishonesty, betrayal, and manipulation of my feelings and choices, nor are we talking about his sexual abuse of others (and later, of me). Sly trickery, that.  Abuser’s name removed. By their fruits ye shall know them. Matthew 7:16

But wait– he was jerking off to porn. That’s a fact, one admitted to by him. Me saying so is not abusive. It’s no more abusive than if someone told me, “You fucking took the bus downtown!” If I had indeed taken the bus downtown I would have to say, yes, that’s right, I did. It is also not abusive to make a grossed-out, angry, or otherwise ugly face while speaking of something that grosses you out, makes you angry, or is a very ugly subject. In addition to all his physical and emotional abuses of me (and, with his self-centered moodiness, rages, physical and verbal threats and violence, he abused his co-workers and a great many random people on the street as well), my ex also sexually abused me (forced unwanted sexual contact) AND contributed to the sexual abuse of tens and maybe hundreds of thousands of women, and he has the audacity to say I hurt him because I made a true statement? Denial is a powerful thing. But his guilt and shame for his own actions does not belong to me, and it is not my fault, and it is not my responsibility. He made the choices he did, not I, and so I was never under any obligation to account for them, accept them, or in any way have feelings about them other than what I had. And I had every right to speak of it. And I had every right to be angry about it, not trust him as much as I had before, and feel violated and betrayed. And I had every right to say what was true.

I also had every right to terminate our relationship. But of course, he did not come out with all of this at once, and as I slowly learned more and more, the more and more I had by then become emotionally and financially entangled with him (see also: Traumatic Bonding). At the end, he would even shift the blame onto me for not leaving him sooner. In other words, by staying in the relationship as long as I did, any feeling of being abused I “brought” upon myself and “therefore” I can’t complain about him. This is a fancy way of blaming the victim, and avoiding taking responsibility for having treated me abusively. Goodness, does he really believe he is entitled to abuse? And any woman who tries for any reason and for any length of time to love, understand, or encourage him to change is just asking for it? abusing herself by proxy? giving him permission to abuse her in the meantime? This is a very disturbing attitude, but unfortunately this way of thinking is a defining characteristic of an abuser. It says, the abuser is allowed to continue to be abusive, the abused person is responsible for stopping the abuse. It almost sounds valid to say, “The onus was on you to leave me sooner”, but the reality is that this would not stop him from being abusive to me (even if I left him, as I am still experiencing, because emotional and psychological abuse can still be done from a distance) or to others; nor does leaving him erase or excuse the fact that he abused me. The onus always was and always will be entirely on him to stop treating others abusively.

Being angry, or disgusted by something, or wildly confused in the face of your partner’s dishonesty, and telling the truth about what they did and how it makes you feel– none of this is abusive, even if it makes your partner feel bad. If they did something dishonest, if they did something wrong, if they did something which violates you or others, they should feel bad. It’s called having a conscience; it is not anywhere called being abused by the person whose trust, feelings and boundaries they violated, exploited, disregarded or sought to control. Nowhere can they find support for such an absurd claim, except in the twisted recesses of their own ego-protecting minds. Please understand that if you are with such a person, you cannot get in there and change their minds. If their conscience is hurting them, they will call it abuse. There is nothing you can do. Just leave them alone with their distortions. If you can, just leave before they can do you any more harm.

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2 Comments

  1. Anonymous said,

    Thank you for writing about this.

  2. distant spark said,

    Thank you for your supportive comment.

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