content warning: abuse, accountability, domestic violence
i woke up to read an accountability statement regarding the abusive behaviors of a comrade i had organized with & had the utmost respect for. this is somebody who i never in a million years would have suspected as a perpetrator of abuse. i’m not going to post the details on this blog until and unless the survivor expresses that they are okay with re-blogs . on a personal note, this statement was very timely in regards to what is going on in my life - last night, i read an essay at bluestockings about re-thinking my relationship to anger and accountability processes, and i stayed out late dialoguing with a friend about the structures through which “radicals” tend to address internal issues of coercion and abuse.
i do want to share the following brief thoughts (most of this is still unprocessed, so excuse potential ramblings)”
- accountability statements are really fucking serious, and allegations of abuse should never be taken lightly by any party (the perpetrator, the survivor, the reader of the statement etc.)
- identity does not necessarily dictate who can and cannot be an abuser, and when we paint caricatures of who an abuser can be it prevents us from being able to address this issue
- likewise, it is essential to address these issues sensitively in such a way that does not trap us into insinuating that abusers who hold marginalized identities become abusive because of their marginalized identities, thus excusing their actions (i admit, this is something that i never thought of before i read the accountability statement at hand)
- in social work school, we learn a lot about the “person-in-enviorment” approach to psychotherapy & the idea that behaviors cannot be removed from their social contexts. i’ve been reading case studies and summaries insinuating that factors such as race, gender, immigration status, and socio-economic factors contribute to epidemics of abuse in certain communities. we learn that abusers abuse because of reasons. when there are economic hardships, domestic violence spikes. and you know what? this is true, to an extent.
- i don’t personally believe that most people, even most abusers, are necessarily inherently evil. and i do think that most people are capable of transforming the ways they relate to others. however, i completely understand why a survivor would request to not be in a room / community / collective with somebody who is a known perpetuator. and i will always side with the survivor and support their wishes and requests.
- with this said, i want to remind people that accountability still means owning up to your shit. it is one thing to be mindful of the external factors that have shaped your experiences / behaviors, it is another to take full responsibilities for your actions. if you are an abuser, i don’t care to hear your sob story. don’t derail the process. once you abuse, you loose your community’s sympathy.
- mental illness is a thing. and i find this is something that “radicals” tend to sometimes forget about. mental illness often prevents us from processing our situations rationally and objectively. mental illness also causes many of us to act in ways that do not align with our personal values. people with mental illness are not always capable of going through accountability processes. this is a sad but true reality. sometimes, if you want the other party to “get it,” you can’t act in ways that cathartic and enables you to heal.
- abuse has always has been, and always will be, completely unacceptable. if you are an abuser, do me a favor and stay the fuck out of my life. if you have not critically asked yourself - is my behavior towards my loved ones, in any way, abuse, stay the fuck out of my life. just because you haven’t been called out doesn’t mean abuse hasn’t happened. it doesn’t matter if an accountability statement has been published or not.
- at this point, it is difficult to gauge who can and cannot be trusted because so many of the people i thought were actually decent have exhibited really fucked up patterns. if you are wondering why i don’t feel safe going out with new people, this is exactly why.