I've been doing some reading on the topic of compassion in light of abusive behaviours like betrayal, deception and abandonment (not to mention more overtly abusive behaviours like threats, intimidation and physical hostility I've recently experienced). The following excerpt is from a review of a book written by an abuse counsellor.

To care about another, to have compassion for another, is beautiful and life-affirming. To care about and have compassion for another who is abusing you is a toxic mimic of real compassion, and is one of the obscenities spawned by a culture of abuse.

Bancroft states that one of the most common forms of support for abusers is the person who says to the abused woman: ‘You should show him some compassion even if he has done bad things. Don’t forget that he’s a human being, too.’

Bancroft continues, “I have almost never worked with an abused woman who overlooked her partner’s humanity. The problem is the reverse: He forgets HER humanity."

Acknowledging his abusiveness and speaking forcefully and honestly about how he has hurt her is indispensable to her recovery. It is the abuser’s perspective that she is being 'mean' to him by speaking bluntly about the damage he has done. To suggest to her that his need for compassion should come before her right to live free from abuse is consistent with the abuser’s outlook.

I have repeatedly seen the tendency among friends and acquaintances of an abused woman to feel that it is their responsibility to make sure that she realizes what a good person he really is inside—in other words, to stay focused on his needs rather than her own, which is a mistake.

This was the biggest cause of cognitive dissonance for me on my DB journey. I knew what STBXH was doing to me was not okay. I KNEW it, more than I could feel it. It just took a while for me to give myself permission to feel my feelings instead of worrying about how STBXH felt and whether my feelings would push him away. Once I did, the relief was immense.

His need for compassion should not come before her right to live free from abuse.

As a caveat, the above describes my lived experience. I realise it is not necessarily representative of other situations.


June 2019 | Runaway husband
May 2020 | Legal separation
Xmas 2020 | Divorce hearing