For those of use who hope for or work towards ending the emotional, sexual and physical abuse of children as well as rape and domestic violence, the last couple of years have been a mixed blessing. Yes, we are seeing more reports of abuse and rape in the media. But that is not a sign that these crimes and abuses are on the rise. Instead, it is a sign that we as a society are becoming more intolerant of physical, emotional and sexual abuse against children and adults. These news items seems come in waves, with each one prompting difficult and painful discussions about how we should respond to these crimes and how we can prevent them.
Sadly, in almost every situation where there is physical or sexual abuse, there is almost always a cadre of people ready and eager to defend the perpetrator. It is one of the truly perplexing and distressing things about crimes against children, domestic violence and rape – some people are quick and unseemly eager to defend the perpetrators. In fact, from what I can tell, people much more willing to defend a public person who has confessed to hitting his wife or who has been convicted of boys than a person who has been arrested for drunk driving.
On this page, I will be listing links to a series of articles about the defense techniques that abusers and their supporters use. I believe that understanding how people are able to defend the utterly indefensible – child abuse, rape, and domestic violence – has the power to push our national conversation about these issues in the right direction.
But in addition, I hope that this will provide a measure of healing for the survivors of these crimes. Many people struggle to overcome the trauma of being abused or raped only to be wounded again when perpetrators or their supporters use these techniques.
I have a special interest in helping adults who have had to divorce themselves from their abusive parents. They hear these defenses every single time the subject of parents is raised by strangers, family members and even professionals in the therapeutic community.
Hopefully this will be a living document, with examples and clarifications added as we go along. As always, I welcome your comments about how we can make this more helpful and healing for us all.
An Introduction to the 12 Defense Strategies – in this first article, I explain my interest in understanding how and why people defend abusers, and I introduce the major ways in which abusers and their defenders use denial, misdirection or context to stop criticism and sweep everything under the rug.