Reason Fails

As with many victims of domestic abuse, you spend a lot of your mental energy in “reasonableness”. These are the people that you love, that you have trusted and counted on. These are the people that know you – that spend time with you, have included you in their lives, have shared deeply personal, even intimate moments with you. These are people that love you.

It is unreasonable that these people should hurt you. So there must be reasons that they do. There must be something you are missing. There must be something that they have simply misunderstood, and if you are patient and explain it all to them with great clarity, with charts, graphs, well-vetted resources from the best experts available to you, then they will understand and stop hurting you.

If you become disabled, and find out that you have a terminal illness, there are even better reasons why they should not hurt you. Look, I’m dying, so that should make you happy that I’ll no longer be this burden in your life that you loathe so much. But even your illness becomes another reason for them to hate you, to treat you badly, and to attack you. Your illness becomes “manipulation” and “an excuse” and they are justified in hating you even more. They are justified in ignoring your simple requests, little things that you need to stay alive and stay sane while you are going through the most grueling crisis of your life.

But they don’t see it that way. Your requests are filed under “you always make your shit our problem” or “you expect us to put you up in our home”. It is the avalanche of screams and accusations over the simplest of requests, the very gentlest of attempts to resolve and achieve compromise, that are sometimes the most devastating. You don’t expect a reaction of such sheer size and weight.

You can’t. No one can. And when you are in crisis, you need reason. You need to be able to have some tiny corner of order in a landscape that is nothing but chaos.

When people that you have loved and counted on punish you for needing their help, there is some point when you have to realize that these people are not good people. They are not your friends. They do not love you. They don’t, and they never will.

It is very, very difficult to hear this message while you are in the middle of being abused as I am while I am writing this. It is very, very difficult to believe that you have any value when you are surrounded by a room full of people telling you that you are worthless through their words and actions. It is very, very difficult when another family member, who has not spoken to me for a year, decided to start up attacking me again via text message when she heard, through her son, that I had been attacked today.

The cruelest thing that we do to women is to isolate them, to cut them off from real support, from real community, because they are married, or single, or the wrong color, or a mother, or not a mother, or Christian, or not a Christian. The cruelest thing we can do is to try to reason out that a person who is in crisis isn’t really in crisis, because they aren’t being pummelled by a bad guy in this very exact moment. When someone says they are crisis, and if we care about them, we should drop everything and listen to them. Sometimes that person in crisis has no escape, and no alternative, but one final unthinkable act.

And that is where reasonableness will sometimes lead us. You cannot reason away or reason with something that is rooted in horror.


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