Over on Theo Fleury’s website, there is a guest post today by Bob Spensley about having compassion for offenders, whether they be criminals, political oppresors, kidnappers or sexual predator.
Granted, this is not the most popular way to approach those who commit these acts, but I think Bob makes one good point, whether you agree with the rest of his theory or not.
If you are not moving towards compassion, the opposite and some would say more naturally reactive direction would be to feel hatred. What does hatred serve? If, like physical pain felt by nerve endings, it is part of a defense mechanism to let your brain/heart know to change your current situation- then good. Anger would then be useful to keep you safer, and it is good to listen to it. If you’re already in a safe-enough place and the trauma is not in danger of being repeated, however, then the hatred/anger will only serve to make yourself ill.
Reminder- It is not always the trauma event itself that makes you the most hurt. It’s often how people (including yourself) respond to the abuse that contributes to your difficulty (or relative ease) with your personal healing.
In a nutshell, how does feeling compassion for your offender help you to feel better? Once you see it’s the other’s issues and pain, it encourages the thought that the abuse was not your fault and you instantly have more energy to forgive and love yourself. And that’s really the goal in healing. The bonus is that if your intention for them to feel less pain comes to be, they’d be less likely to hurt another.
I think there is something very valid in looking at your abuser(s) and trying to understand why they did what they did, because it can help you understand that what happened wasn’t because of anything you did. It doesn’t have to fall under the umbrella of “compassion” either. It can simply be a logical look into their lives, their pasts, and trying to understand that it was always about them and their issues, that we, as survivors, did not contribute to it somehow. That can be a very useful way to gain that understanding.
Think of it this way. How many of you discovered that there has been generations of abuse in your families? Does knowing that change how you feel about what happened to you? Are you more likely to see this as a cycle that has been repeated over and over again by the various damaged people in your family, instead of something you brought on yourself?
I’ve got to think that is the case for many. The more light we can shed on the abuse, and the abusers, the more the truth can come out. That’s not a bad thing.