Anonymous said: how can you tell if someone is projecting and acussing a vcitim of what they do? like in the case of a couple saying the other is abusive how can you tell which one is telling the truth and which one is a manipulative liar?
this is a hard, hard, hard question - one that organizations that serve abuse victims continue to struggle with. a friend of mine works at a women’s shelter, and she shared the screening tool they use there to assess abusive situations. here’s a PDF of a presentation by The Network/La Red that works to answer this question. what happens if both the abuser and the victim both contact an organization for help? what if it’s hard to tell who’s who? how should we respond?
here are some of the major takeaways from this document:
- mutual abuse is a myth - partner abuse is never mutual. self defense is not the same as abuse.
- this can be complicated by the fact that abusers often see themselves as victims
- victims may have been forced into a corner, meaning they have had to use coercive or manipulative strategies or fought back as survival mechanisms. this does not make them abusers.
so, what to do? the reason this document is used as a training module is because it has taken a lot of people who make it their professional work to answer these questions, providing the best support possible. i’m not going to suggest that you use the screening tool in your day-to-day life, since it takes time to become familiar with the kind of listening that leads you to recognize domestic violence while also noting abusive tactics.
the questions are continuous, and new information may present itself at any time. questions of who committed the abuse aren’t always clear-cut, which is why the screening tool suggests paying attention to 6 factors:
- context, intent, and effect of actions
- assertion of will
HERE is an extremely helpful post from back in 2012. I recommend reading it in full for more information about being a third party.