The Bobbu

Accountability

A hand held up, palm facing you, with text stamped on it that read No Excuses

Content Notice – emotional abuse, including some relating to sexual activity; ableism; gaslighting; alcoholism; mention of physical violence.

Context and Intent

Some of you will be aware that I have been accused of being abusive in one of my previous relationships, some years ago; whether that be from the other person in the relationship, or from myself – as I have been quite open in speaking about this.

I am publishing this to ensure that everyone who interacts with me knows the full extent of my actions in this relationship, and the actions of the other person, so that they can take whatever steps they feel are appropriate to safeguard themselves and those around them.

The other person discussed here wanted to be named, but that desire was expressed before they were aware of the impact of some of their actions on me. As a result, I will not name that person here, nor will I do so if asked without any provided reason.

If you believe you know who it is and have safeguarding-related reason you need to know, or if the individual discussed here wants me to confirm it to anyone, then I will do so through private messaging. This is as close as I feel I can come to honouring their wish for me to identify them when discussing my actions towards them, while avoiding anything negative actions directed towards them due to what I discuss here. I don’t want this to come up on a Google search for their name, or anything like that. This is for me to relate my story and take responsibility for my actions, not for me to force anything upon them.

I am also writing this as I am tired of seeing abusers ‘named and shamed’, but so few acknowledging it or taking responsibility themselves. I will not be another person who remains silent about what they have done wrong, never facing the consequences for their wrongdoing. I will not become a missing stair. I was abusive towards another person, and the only right thing I can see to do is to speak openly about this.

I am also including here the first public account of the abusive behaviour that I experienced in this relationship. This is not as an excuse for my actions, nor an attempt to take away from the severity of my deeds.

I am including it because I have spent a number of years not speaking about the abusive behaviour I experienced because I did not know how to address it without it being read as an attempt to excuse my own actions – something I consider completely unacceptable. There is no excuse for my toxic behaviour.

There will likely be many people who still feel this comes across as attempting to diminish the impact or significance of my actions, but I am going to do everything I can here to address that potential interpretation. While I recognise it is no-one’s responsibility to help me in doing this better, if you feel I do not adequately do this and are able to share with me how I could handle this more clearly, it will be happily accepted.

To make this as clear as I can: It is not acceptable for a counter-accusation of abuse to be used to diminish the severity of an abusers actions – “yeah, but they did this,” is not a valid response to any accusation of wrongdoing.

However, neither should an abuse survivor feel they must remain silent because they were abusive themselves. Life is sadly not so simple that there are only monsters and victims; just people fucking things up in different ways, whether intentionally or otherwise.

I will not go into detail about any specific incidents that occurred, but instead describe in simple terms the abusive behaviour that I enacted, and that which I experienced. I am not trying to hide anything in doing this, only to keep the information as clear and concise as possible. If you want to know more details, feel free to get in touch; I am fine with discussing everything here if it helps other people.

What I did

I gaslit my partner. I cannot be more specific about what this concerned as my ex-partner has not provided any further information. This casts no doubt on this accusation; that they say they experienced it is enough to know that they experienced it.

I encouraged isolation from their friends, including condemning those friends without considering their importance to my partner, or the potential impact of my condemnation.

I broke agreements and promises, especially relating to my drinking.

I was physically violent towards someone in their presence, which triggered a trauma response for them. This was also an instance of denying them the agency to deal with a situation which concern them in way they saw fit.

I was verbally abusive when drunk, including making unacceptable and triggering “jokes.”

I created a hostile living situation in our house for them.

I was unfairly hostile towards them after our breakup, including failing to communicate my emotional state and projecting unjustified criticism of their new relationship, based on my unresolved issues with them.

None of this is acceptable behaviour in any way, or for any reason. I am unconditionally and completely sorry for my actions and the consequences of them – both at the time and in terms of their ongoing effects.

Accountability

After I learnt that I was being accused of being abusive I reached out to the person I harmed, through a third party. This was to make them aware that I was open to interacting with them on their terms, so that I could be held accountable for my actions. They responded to this, and we exchanged emails.

I acknowledged my abusive behaviour and it’s impacts on them, without qualification; and I have apologised to them.

I re-state here that their accusations towards me are accurate. I apologise unreservedly and without condition for how I behaved and how I treated them.

I also expressed what I had done in terms of practical efforts to remedy the internal causes behind my actions, and to ensure I did not repeat my abusive behaviour with anyone else. These steps include the following:

I no longer drink as part of my general life. I have only consumed alcohol in a couple of very controlled situations over the past few years, with trusted people holding me accountable. I have not gotten drunk in over three years. It is clear that I cannot control my drinking, nor my behaviour when drunk, and so this is the only responsible course of action.

I have removed people who encouraged or enabled my toxic behaviour from my life.

I have not, and will not for the foreseeable future, live with anyone else. This allows me the space I need to manage my own boundaries and not subject anyone to even accidental lapses in patience or acceptable behaviour.

I have sought professional help in managing my mental states; researched my problems deeper; sought additional diagnoses; and continue to take pro-active responsibility for my own emotional well-being.

I have learned and practiced constructive and collaborative communication methods, and empathetic exercises to ensure I can avoid actions and thought patterns which centre my own emotions as truth at the expense of the experiences and wellbeing of others.

I record boundaries and agreements made in relationships purely for my own reference, to ensure I remember and stick to them.

I have explored and embraced healthier ways of processing, expressing and managing negative emotions that centre around my own responsibility for them.

I am endeavouring to establish and communicate my needs and boundaries in clear and straightforward ways which avoid confusion or misunderstandings.

I seek to reach out to anyone I become aware of exhibiting or suffering from the effects of toxic behaviour where possible, to offer what support they wish to receive. This has included helping other abusive people to accept their behaviour and work to do better, and working to ensure the agency and safety of those who have received such abuse.

It is my hope that the knowledge that I have taken these accusations seriously, believed them without question, and engaged in dealing with the consequences, can help my ex-partner to gain closure and move on with their life.

Disambiguation

I now need to express the abusive behaviour which I faced during our relationship. I reiterate strongly – what I describe next is not an excuse for any of my own actions, nor does it diminish my need to own and be responsible for those actions.

This is included here for completeness and fairness, as these things have not been spoken about before to more than a very select few. I believe these things to be as important for the safeguarding of others, and closure for myself and the other person in the relationship being discussed, as much as is speaking openly and honestly of my own behaviour.

This is not included to encourage anyone attack the individual in question, and I will not accept anyone using my story as an excuse to be shitty towards them. They deserve help and support both in dealing with the abuse I subjected them to, and in dealing with their own responsibility for what they subjected me to.

I received support and encouragement from those close to me in confronting what I did, and taking actions to improve myself, to make what amends I can, and never repeat my previous unacceptable behaviour. I wish nothing less than the same for them; not because I wish to seem magnanimous or avoid negative consequences for myself, but because it is the right fucking thing to do.

My experiences

I experienced gaslighting, particularly in regards to the impact of my mental and physical disabilities, and the validity of my pain. I felt unable to say no to requests without being subsequently punished emotionally, even when experiencing severe pain or exhaustion.

I felt my relationship boundaries were disrespected and coercively changed through manipulative behaviours. This included invalidation of the legitimacy of my boundaries; false equivalence of imposing rules with requesting respect for boundaries; transactional attitudes; and direct breaches of agreed boundaries.

I experienced sexual coercion and manipulation, including insistence that I give up my ability to withdraw consent once sexual activity had been initiated. I was shamed for not wanting to have sex, and emotionally abused for this.

I have learned from multiple sources that my not wanting to have sex has also been described as being abusive, which I consider to be an extension of the gaslighting and manipulative behaviour I mentioned previously.

My closure

I have asked this person not to contact me again, and as of now they have respected this. I consider our interactions to be at an end.

I do not need or want anything from them, and only hope that they will work to not repeat what was done to me. I do not want to discuss or debate what was done to me – I have processed this by myself, and with those important to me. I am moving on with my life in that respect, and wish to focus simply on doing better in myself.

I do not ask anything of anyone in dealing with this; I only encourage those who know me to continue to call me out when I act in unacceptable ways if I do not first recognise them as unreasonable. This is no-one’s responsibility but my own, but help is appreciated.

Other situations

I do not know of any other accusations of abuse against me that are accurate and remain unresolved, but considering the nature of the things discussed here it is highly likely that I was abusive in other relationships in similar ways, and am unaware of this. This is not to say that I am unable to assess whether or not I am or was being abusive, but simply that I find it incredibly hard to consider my recall of past relationships to be accurate or objective in that assessment.

If anyone hears of situations in which I was abusive that are not specifically discussed here, I would ask you to believe the person who tells you about their experiences with me.

I have been an abuser, I have been abused, and I have been falsely accused before (not in terms of me disagreeing that my behaviour was abusive, but accusations of rape where I had not had any kind of sexual contact with the individual). I would rather I was falsely accused and had to deal with the consequences of that, than anyone who has been abused by me find themselves being disbelieved.

I have been abusive in other past relationships, and being confronted with this instance has brought into light that even those issues which were resolved with the relevant people did not trigger enough pro-active change in myself. If anyone has been a survivor of my past abuse and wishes to speak about it with me I will accept your experiences as entirely valid, and do whatever I am able to do to make recompense.

If someone tells you of other abusive things I have done, I trust my friends to believe them and put that person’s needs first. If they wish it to be discussed with me, or want interaction with me themselves, I am happy to offer apologies and facilitate whatever closure they need. If they do not, then I equally respect whatever they want people to do or not do about it.

Anything I have done are my own actions and I should be held, and hold myself, accountable for them.

What next?

I ask that if you comment on this topic on social media that you do so with respect for the experiences of both myself and the person I was in this relationship with. Anything insulting or abusive will be immediately removed from spaces where I have the ability to do this.

This is not about apportioning blame in any way other than to claim responsibility and accountability for my own actions, and hope that my ex does the same in whatever way is best for them.

I ask that whatever decisions you wish to make and actions you wish to take based on this information should be done so with consideration for the wishes of those people involved, but please prioritise your own wellbeing first. This is not a simple thing, and I recognise the difficulty in making such decisions.

For those people who are hurt by this publication, in terms of triggering trauma responses and other emotional distress, I can only apologise and continue striving to ensure that this sort of thing will never be necessitated by my actions ever again.

I completely understand that some people will not wish to remain friends with me upon learning about the behaviour I subjected someone to, and I accept this as a consequence of my actions. To anyone who feels they need to cut me out of their lives – you have nothing but my respect for doing what you need to keep yourself and those close to you safe. I fully accept that you do not need to say anything to me unless you wish to, and I will not follow up with anyone who disappears from my life – under the assumption that leaving in silence means this is what is desired.

If you wish to say something to me, it will be equally respected, and I will engage with any emotional responses, requests for further information, or any communication whatsoever from those who know me in a way which recognises the importance and validity of your feelings and choices.

If people who share spaces with me, such as larp, want to ensure I stay away from them, I will respect all such requests without question; whether delivered directly, via a third party, or via official channels.

Resources

This has addressed some very difficult things, many of which are hard to handle. I am providing below a selection of resources that I have found useful in understanding the kinds of abuse talked about here, if anyone feels they would benefit from them:

https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/gaslighting-is-an-abuse-tactic/
https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/08/things-wish-known-gaslighting/
https://themighty.com/2019/04/how-to-recover-from-gaslighting-emotional-abuse/
https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/07/toxic-partner-questions-to-ask
https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/09/can-abuse-be-unintentional/
https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/02/be-accountable-when-abusive/
http://kimchicuddles.com/post/172798231060/rules-agreements-and-boundaries-but-why-the

Thanks

Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Thank you to my ex who communicated their experiences of my abusive behaviour to me clearly, and who has respected my request to end our contact.
Thank you to the partners and friends who have helped me face and process the actions done to and by me; without excusing my behaviour, while accepting my desire to do better.
Thank you to all those who have called me out on unacceptable behaviour, and continue to do so.
Thank you to those who have provided me with resources and assistance in understanding these issues.

Published June 1, 2019 at 11:37 am