Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Avoiding responsibility

An awesome psychologist who has extensive experience with abusive people listed the four ways in which abusers avoid taking responsibility for their actions. These same excuses are also used by teens, and in light of my previous post, I list them here:

1. Denial (I didn't do it)
2. Distortion (it didn't happen that way)
3. Minimalization (it wasn't as bad as that)
4. Blame others (she made me angry, I'm stressed because of my teachers)

I also think of this list when accused sexual predators speak out in the media. I automatically find the corresponding item on this list (what you saw when you walked into the bathroom wasn't what you think you saw [item 2], I was just playing around with this really young boy [item 3]). I find that things become much more transparent this way.

Looking back at the years of subtle and not-so-subtle abuse I suffered from F1's father, I can place his reaction under one of those four excuses. Number three was the most common in court. "It wasn't as bad as she says it was, I just touched her on the cheek, I didn't bite her." "It was just a gentle nudge, not a kick." "It really wasn't such a big deal, she's exaggerating." I've also heard number four in some variety or the other "Judge, this is part of our culture, men in our country are the head of the household and need to take control to guide their family. If I didn't I wouldn't love my family." That one in particular, made me want to puke. BS if there ever was. Beating up on your family is a fabulous way to show them how much you care . Or how about: "She made me angry. If I wasn't so angry, I would never have touched her."

Over the years I have received several pleas to "just get along as friends." I've always responded that there can never be any form of reconciliation if he doesn't take responsibility for his actions. I've once received an email stating "I'm sorry for whatever it is you think I've done to you." Sorry, doesn't cut it.  Taking responsibility means something like: "I realize now that I have a habit of wanting to control everything you do or say, and that I do this by physical coercion among other methods. I now know this is wrong, and I'm taking steps to prevent this from occurring again." Not that such a statement would be enough, but it might be a start. However, from every communication I've gotten so far, he still doesn't seem to think he's done anything wrong.

I have a list of these excuses on the fridge, and every time F1 uses one of them, I point it out to him. I know he despises me psychoanalyzing him. The point I'm trying to make, however, is the following:
I've heard it all before, you're excuses are so predictable, so transparent. Take responsibility for your actions. If you don't, you can not make better choices.


ScienceGirl said...

I am sorry you had to go through all of this; I watched it happen to my mother (and us kids when we got older) and it is just so painful.

F1 may resent it now, but making people realize what they are actually doing is very important in breaking the cycle of behavior they observed in childhood. Taking responsibility takes maturity and is a learned behavior worth encouraging.

Kold_Kadavr_flatliner, sub/dude said...

God blessa youse - Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

Aleksandra said...

sorry to barge on you like this. I tried to find different form of contact. I was looking into issue of scientist changing the name and publications, etc.
And I've seen your comment that you continue publishing under your maiden name. Is this means that you did not change your name due to the marriage at all? Or actually use your maiden name just for the publications?

makita said...

Hi Alesandra,
I didn't change my name at all. But even if I had, I wouldn't have changed it for publication purposes, and for all professional activities I would have continued using my own name.