The short answer is NO.
To be clear, I’m emphatic, non-negotiable, and certain about my opinion on this matter.
There is no such thing as “deserved” abuse.
Now, there are relationships where the abuse victim finally stands up for themselves and strikes back — that’s called self-defense.
And, there are relationships in which there appears to be “joint” abuse. Where the partners seem to take turns abusing each other.
This past week, I have seen domestic violence referred to as “fighting” and had someone state that “it isn’t abuse if you deserve it”.
Still, today, with all the education available about domestic violence, people still believe these things.
Abuse (Domestic Violence in any form) is about control. It is about one person exerting control over another person in an intimate relationship. does that sound like something that can be “shared”? How do you share control? How is it abuse if you are fighting against being controlled? This is violent resistance. The victim feels so trapped in the relationship, they cannot see any way out of the abuse and turn to violent resistance. This isn’t true abuse. It is violence and it is wrong, but it is not abuse. A much better method is to find a way out of the relationship. It’s important to not allow yourself to stoop to the level of the abuser. To rise above and to make better choices.
When we say abuse is “deserved” we imply that violence is an acceptable reaction. It isn’t. Violence simply should not be an option. There are many other ways to resolve conflict. When we say abuse is “deserved” we are saying it is the victim’s fault. They must have done something to cause the abuser to become violent towards them. So, by following that logic, it’s okay if you hit your wife if she doesn’t clean the house the way you want her to; it’s okay to shoot your husband for staying out too late; it’s okay to beat your children if they disobey you…. the list goes on. Some of us have heard these excuses and justifications. When we believe abuse is deserved, we excuse the abuser because they “just lost it”, or they “reached a breaking point” or they “snapped”.
I’ve excused Lily’s husbands actions this way in the past… simply because I couldn’t wrap my head, my emotions, my thoughts around the fact that the brother-in-law I had loved as a brother for 18 years could kill my sister…. but the truth is there is no excuse. There is no justification for abuse. None. Never is it deserved!
Self-defense seems like a no brainer. If someone is fighting for their life, we usually don’t begrudge them using whatever force is necessary. Except in domestic violence situations. When a victim fights back, sometimes they are arrested. Often the abuse has been so well hidden that they are not believed when the victim finally speaks out. Often they are blamed for “causing” the abuse in the first place. They are told they should never hit back, no matter the provocation. In essence, they are being told they should let the abuser kill them instead of fighting for their lives.
There are far too many stories of the victim being arrested when the police are called to a domestic violence disturbance.
- Sometimes it’s because they fought back (sometimes for the first time).
- Sometimes it’s because they were fighting for their life, and scratched the abuser, leaving marks where the abuser didn’t.
- A friend once shared with me that she was arrested leaving her abuser because he jumped in right front of the car and, with no time to hit the breaks, she hit him (going very, very slowly) He wasn’t harmed, but she was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon.
- Sometimes it’s because the abuser self-harms in order to make it appear as if they were the ones attacked.
Usually it’s because the abuser lies, and lies well. The victim is usually very upset by the time the police come, while the abuser is able to remain seemingly calm and rational. It’s often hard to explain and express domestic abuse from the victim’s perspective because the abuser always has a better twist to the story.
Always it’s a case of “he said/she said” and the police have to use their best judgment in the situation. I don’t envy the police. They have tough job and they have to make a judgment call in a volatile situation with unfamiliar people.
Nobody deserves to be abused.