Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Provocation and Consent

I sometimes wonder if people who have experienced domestic violence can in some way provoke the person who abuses them. I know sometimes are forced to change the way they act to avoid the violence, which is not acceptable.

What if they are assertive and stand up to him? Does that provoke violence? Should anger about the experiences be suppressed in order to avoid them happening again? Should the survivor have taken responsibility for the violence if they did provoke it?

The answer to the first two, sadly, is probably yes. The answer to the rest should, perhaps, be no. I say perhaps because only the person in the situation can answer the third. The rest, well, it should be a clear No to them all.

If you've been in that situation and have taken out your anger on your abuser and done things that you now think may have provoked him you don't need to take responsibility. He needs to take the responsibility for whatever he has done.

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said nobody can make you inferior without your consent. I disagree. Women who have experienced domestic violence are treated in a way that may make them feel inferior. Whatever actions you take in order to survive are self protection and not consent.

If their actions are making you feel inferior remember that it's precisely that, their actions, not yours.
They choose their actions. Not you. If you feel inferior then it's not because you have consented.

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