I’ve been having many thoughts and feelings in the last wee while, centred around the slew of sexual assault allegations against powerful men. Some of those allegations are from men. Most are from women. And that’s what I’ve been having thoughts around especially.
And then this morning, my friend Jessica was talking about how a person doing one act of sexual violence is no more deserving of redemption than a person in whom this behaviour is patterned, or consistent. That these behaviours, no matter how often they occur, are all the same to the victim.
This led to me to thinking about how that’s related to domestic violence, in that some abusers only ever do it in one relationship, whilst other do it in all their relationships.
We forgive those people in the former category very easily don’t we? Even though their violence in all it’s forms is restricted to one relationship, it’s not just one act. It’s many. Many many many acts. And yet, we treat men – and I’m only talking about cis men in hetero relationships here – who commit one act of sexual assault that’s thought of as the “lower end” of the scale (groping, flashing) the same as men who commit many acts of violence against one partner.
Let’s remind ourselves what violence against women looks like, shall we? It’s useful to know.
Words, actions. Abuse.
A lot of people get nasty at the end of their relationships. Say bad things, do bad things. Are they bad people? I don’t believe that there are many absolutes in this life. That somebody can be shit to one person, but generally good to everyone else. This doesn’t make them a bad person. They never do it to anyone else, they’re never shitty to anyone else. Just that one person. So we don’t get to know about it. Nobody knows about it, unless the person who’s been hurt decides to talk. And once again, because nobody knows that her ex partner has been like this, he gets away with it. Because it’s likely she won’t talk about it. She won’t be believed, anyway. She, in fact, will be reviled for “trying to spread stories”. It was a nasty breakup. Of course she’s saying these things.
But the people who hurt them need to own that. And the people who are his friends need to acknowledge those truths. Because it’s abuse. Plain and simple.
And I think that’s how all these men – the men who “only” did it once have been getting away with it all these years. Why they’re forgiven by their friends, and family. Given the benefit of the doubt. Why some very well loved people have a very dark side, and only their ex partners know what that dark side looks like.
I’m talking about this because I want you to know, if you’re one of those men, that I know. Your exes have told me their stories. While women friends have stood by you, I know what your dark side looks like. I know what you’ve done.
And I won’t forgive you.
I won’t ever forgive you.
Until you own it.