Hello, Captain Awkward here. A long time ago when Lauren posted her series on gaslighting on Feministe, she asked me to write a post about how there’s no magical way to change an abuser’s mind by some combination of using your words and being really plucky and having a lot of gumption.
I do believe that speaking up for yourself, setting and enforcing boundaries, choosing your battles, and learning to negotiate for your own happiness within your relationships can be profoundly transformative and empowering. You CAN often change the dynamics of even very difficult relationships and reduce conflict and tension as long as the other players are acting in good faith.
Abusers, though? They don’t play fair. “You don’t think that you get to leave and find out that you deserve someone better than me, do you? Come back here so I can yell at/hit you more and remind you that no one loves you except me and this is the best your life is ever going to be…GOD, ARE YOU CRYING AGAIN, WHY ARE YOU SUCH A FUCKING CRYBABY?” isn’t really a situation where “When you say x, I feel y” statements really help you. If you say “I really wish you would stop yelling at and hitting me, please, it makes me feel sad inside and is also ouchy” and the Evil Bees keep circling, it’s maybe time to fold ’em and walk away (or run!)
So. After months of procrastinating, sadly Penelope “It’s the woman’s job to make the relationship work” Trunk gave us an extremely sad, extremely relevant, extremely cautionary “You can so fix domestic violence if you believe hard enough that you can!” tale. And stalwart commenter Piny came to the rescue with a guest-post.
Take it away, Piny.