I am perfectly aware that I only control my reaction to situations yet I feel there is some level of accountability on my part. I struggle with it regularly. Why did it take so long to gain the strength to leave? Why did I change that path and return? I am continually conflicted by the fact that my complicity implied consent.
This is an ever present argument in our society. If the victim didn’t fight hard enough, how their actions lead to the incident, were they in some way accountable? If she didn’t say no, does it imply yes? I am perfectly aware of the logical position and the role victim blaming has in this feud; of course they are in no way responsible. Victim blaming marginalizes the one preyed upon and dismisses their attack to a mere number in a list of casualties while empowering the perpetrator. We have seen this in the media with the why did she stay questions. Why does the assumption that the victim is accountable the foundation for justifying atrocities? Herein lies my conflict; I would quickly defend a victim and their lack of accountability in any situation yet in my own, I carry a great burden of guilt. Why can I forgive the perpetrator but but myself? Why do I hold myself to a standard I would expect no one else to attain?
As a student of psychology, I understand the foundation of self-blame, being rooted in the need for control over circumstances beyond one’s control. I truly understand that I did not perpetrate the actions, the hatred and anger was not mine yet I still struggle with my interaction in the situation. I continue to cycle back to this point where I analyze the fallout from my former life. I see the ripples of my past in those in my life. It came to be the clearest recently when I saw one of my children treat the other just as I have heard the father do to me many times before. Was I not able to buffer then from the situation? Did they see more that I had known? Is this a product of their present interactions with him, independent of me?
The weight of my complicity is such a heavy burden to carry at times a devastating punishment. I hope that my continual focus on living with compassion, love and forgiveness can continue to lighten what feels like a herculean task. Will striving to teach my children to live with respect and love serve then better than what they have when they are not with me? Will all of my efforts be in vain?
“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” -Voltaire