A little while ago I wrote a post supporting my friend Jessica AKA @vdaze who had suffered mental and emotional abuse by a man who is well known in internet circles. You can read it here. I'll refer to the man in question as Fantasy Hairball™ or FH for short.
In the weeks since I wrote this post, I've noticed a disturbing trend on Twitter and other places with regards to the definition of "victim". Questions like does talking about abuse in public seem like whining or payback? Is defending the victim, 'piling on' the abuser(FH)? Shouldn't this all be kept private?
I've worked in social work since 1988. For the last 18 years I have been a child abuse investigator. In that capacity I have seen first hand the abuse of children. I've also seen hundreds of cases of Domestic Battery and other abuses of women. I'd like to take time to describe my observations and share some things to clear up the questions people may have.
First off, a victim of abuse is someone who suffers physical, sexual, emotional trauma at the hands of the abuser. Physical and sexual trauma are self explanatory. The problem many people have is emotional trauma. How does one judge what is just arguing and what is emotional abuse?
People like Fantasy Hairball™ are so good at charming their way into women's lives that the woman doesn't know that the abuser is bad news until well into a relationship. Using this case to illustrate FH may pick a fight with Jessica, but she chalks it up to normally butting of heads. This may have gone on for a while.
When FH turned the corner to abuse it was when he started blaming Jessica for his feelings of anger or hurt.
"You make me so crazy", "I'm not normally like this but I love you so much, I get crazy with : anger, jealousy, fear of losing you"
Guilt is a powerful tool, so is preying on someone's pity. "Please feel sorry for me", "I'm in a bad place and you've made it worse." What was sickening in the aftermath of Jessica's disclosures was that Fantasy Hairball™ used these same guilt trips on other women and his friends to get them to view him as an emotionally unstable wreck who might be suicidal and whose mom was experiencing trauma because of the drama.
This is classic abuser behavior. "Poor me" behavior is used as a tactic to get the victim back in their lives, keep them in their lives, or convince their friends that the abuser is not a bad guy, just misunderstood.
The other questions all sort of dove tail together. My first job as an investigator is to get the victim to start talking. Some times this is done with words, sometimes they write down what happened. Sometimes we draw pictures. Frankly if Twitter or Facebook could be used in an interview to get a victim talking, I'd use it in a heartbeat. So no, talking about it in public with friends is not a bad thing. In fact its the right thing to do.
Calling out an abuser for what he is should be commended. People who keep things private, who don't air their dirty laundry, who are told to "buck up" and deal with it enable the abuser to continue behaving abusively with other people. For those who may be friends with FH, he may never have acted badly with you, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen with others.
Fantasy Hairball™ is a text book case of an abusive personality. He charmed his way into several women's lives and when he was called out, he turned on the women and accused their friends of coordinating attacks and ruining his rep. "Poor me" anyone?