This is a great article written by some folks over at Everyday Feminism. We thought we would share this because there are so few useful resources for this aspect of interventions — working with the person who has done abuse. Read on:
(Content warning: Intimate partner violence, physical assault)
I, too, have heard endless rumors that he’s been a bad date, and have heard stories of shadiness and strange behavior. […] I have heard about his ridiculous pick-up lines and have (to my shame) tittered about them with my friends […] Jian Ghomeshi is my friend, and Jian Ghomeshi beats women. How our friendship will continue remains to be seen.” —Musician Owen Pallett on Canadian broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi’s alleged assault of several women
In my second year of university, I learned what I had suspected for a while but refused to investigate: One of my close friends had been regularly beating up his boyfriend.
He knew that this was wrong, but he didn’t know how to stop – his boyfriend “was making him do it,” he said, by constantly flirting with other people and “acting slutty” in public. My friend’s defensive attitude overlay a deep insecurity: Thanks to long conversations and many nights spent texting, I knew that he often worried about being sexy or lovable enough for his partner.
And as much as I knew that I had to confront him, I also didn’t want to see him get in trouble or hurt. Not to mention the fact that I was completely in over my head and had absolutely zero idea what to do.
In marginalized communities, there are vast risks associated with “calling out” or naming abuse between ourselves. The reality is that there are already far too many racialized and queer and trans people imprisoned for life or killed by cops for (often unproven) allegations of crimes far smaller than abuse and assault. And men of color, in particular, are already stigmatized and stereotyped as being “savage,” brutal, and violent.
The external violence of an oppressive society makes any attempt to stand up to abuse inside our communities feel not only difficult and dangerous, but also treacherous – as though we are betraying our own. How many times have I heard that calling the police on their boyfriends is something that only rich, white cis women do?
Clearly, we have to find ways to tackle abuse on our own terms –in ways that combine both love and justice.
The following eleven steps form a strategy (which I encourage folks to adapt to their specific needs) for confronting a close friend who is abusing their romantic or sexual partner.I use it in both my personal life, and as a social worker with my clients. It’s divided into two halves: first, reacting to finding out that your friend is abusive; and second, what to do about it.