In recent times, I've been following developments in the story of Julie McMahon vs Tony Jones, which first surfaced last year in the comments section of this blog post.
Since that time, emotions have run high. People have taken sides and tried to shut down opposing voices. Names have been called and accusations thrown around.
In other words it's been messy and, at times, ugly. That's what situations of abuse are like.
And like 99.9% of all abuse cases, the same arguments and defences are being trotted out.
Many people are saying, "There are always two sides to a story", meaning if one person acted badly it was probably because the other had too.
While that sounds reasonable and rational, it doesn't take into account that, in cases of bullying and abuse, the victim is often driven to such desperation that they do lash out, or fight back. It ignores the fact that the abuser has provoked that behaviour, and that it would not otherwise have occurred.
Along with this goes, "They gave as good as they got." It pretends to ignore the fact that when you are attacked, the 'fight or flight' instinct kicks in. Some people fight because they've been attacked. And then they are crucified for doing so!
Or you hear, "Neither person is perfect", implying moral equivalence (i.e. whatever one person did, the other person's actions were equally bad - no matter what those actions actually were). So... to follow this reasoning, slapping someone across the face in anger and frustration is morally equivalent to beating someone to a pulp and hospitalising them. Because both are acts of imperfect people!!!
In the midst of all this, there has been on-going questioning of who abused whom.
"He did this, therefore he's clearly abusive."
"No! She said that, so he's the one being victimised."
We weren't privy to all those conversations, we didn't witness the actions of those involved. So what are we to believe!?
Here's a tip: When one of the parties walks away with their position and power intact, they are most likely NOT the victim of abuse!
Abuse involves a real or perceived imbalance of power, rank, status, authority, control. Its tools are things like intimidation, gas lighting, whispering campaigns, mobbing and victim blaming. Most of these tools can only be wielded by the person holding the greater power.
So when you see a situation where one person in the conflict holds all the power cards in his or her hand, and at the end of the conflict they are still holding them, its highly unlikely that they have been the one damaged by abuse!