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To think that relationship advice about abusers is contradictory?

(10 Posts)
AndyWarholsOrange Fri 30-Jan-15 14:14:56

I lurk a lot on the Relationships board, due to being in a far from great relationship myself.
I think that the support there is amazing and it always gives me hope that it is possible to get out of bad relationships but there's something I can't quite get my head round - often women in abusive relationships will say that their partner was abused as a child or grew upon an abusive environment in an attempt to excuse or explain their behaviour and the reply is usually along the lines that their partner is an adult and responsible for their behaviour/choices and that blaming childhood experiences is just an excuse.
However, I also frequently hear posters telling women in abusive relationships that children model their parent's relationships and asking how they would feel if their son ends up treating women the way their partner treats them which seems to imply that these men can't help their behaviour. It almost sees to imply that, if a woman stays in an abusive relationship, and has a son who grows up to be an abuser, it's (at least partly) her fault. I'm finding it hard to reconcile this in my head as it seems contradictory.
I'm genuinely not trying to be goady or upset anyone. Can anyone put me straight on this?

PenguinsandtheTantrumofDoom Fri 30-Jan-15 14:19:20

It isn't contradictory. If your parents smoke it seems more normal to you and you are more likely to grow up a smoker. Doesn't mean you don't have free

ghostyslovesheep Fri 30-Jan-15 14:20:23

yes - to continue the smoking analogy you can seek help and stop - ditto breaking cycles of abuse

christinarossetti Fri 30-Jan-15 14:23:30

I think the point is that staying in an abusive relationship effectively condones the abuse. At some level, it signals to the child that this is normal/acceptable/there is nothing they can do to change it.

If someone grows up to be an abuser, it's no-one's direct 'fault' but the person who abused them is culpable as is anyone who allowed it to continue.

AuntieStella Fri 30-Jan-15 14:24:14

I see what you mean (I think).

I don't see it as contradictory. Witnessing abuse does have its effect and might set a world view in which certain behaviours are normalised. These can be overcome, but it takes effort. One aim is to avoid creating the conditions in which your DC do not have that baggage present in their lives at all.

It does not mean that you necessarily end relationships at the early signs of trouble. If there is a true readiness to work on the relationship and overcome the difficulty, then the healthy family life which follows will set a new normal. But a willingness from both parents to really work on it is the vital part. If it is absent in one spouse, or if the abuse is serious, then the range of options which give a good result is sharply narrowed. And just sticking it out in the vague hope of future improvement, or simply appeasement again with some hope of a better tomorrow, isn't an adequate starting point.

christinarossetti Fri 30-Jan-15 14:24:50

To use the smoking analogy, it's like the non-smoking partner of someone who smokes saying 'yep, that's absolutely okay, no problem with that'.

enderwoman Fri 30-Jan-15 14:49:42

I disagree.

To use the smoking analogy, it's easier to quit if your partner doesn't smoke too. You could quit even if your partner smoked but it would be much harder

as a parent you'd want your child to take the easier road when faced with difficult junctions in life.

HubertCumberdale Fri 30-Jan-15 15:06:55

Any person can choose not to be an abuser, but if they've been brought up in an environment where it has been normalised, it's very likely that they will have to overcome significant emotional/ mental hurdles to get there.
The best thing a parent can do is not create those hurdles in the first place.
If you show on some level that abuse is OK, by excusing it or allowing it to happen around your children, it is not unlikely that your children will emulate what they experience in their own behaviour.
But not always.

DoJo Fri 30-Jan-15 15:15:36

In fairness, many of those posts highlight that living in a family where abuse is normalised can make children more likely to see abuse as normal from both sides. Becoming an abuser is one of the outcomes, but so is becoming someone who expects to be abused, and I think that is a valid point too.

Adults have free will and choice, but might have to struggle to overcome the urge to exert control using the tools they learnt as a child. People who refer to that aren't excusing their future behaviour but suggesting that the children would have an easier and happier life if that hurdle could be removed. It's the difference between an explanation and an excuse I think.

DoJo Fri 30-Jan-15 15:16:25

Should have refreshed before posting - wise words Hubert! grin

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