A woman told me years ago that she understands the dynamics of domestic violence. She understands that there are many different types of abuse: verbal, mental, physical, etc.  But she also understands that sometimes women provoke a man to abuse them.  (???)  I quote her when I write this, “If she brings out the worse in him, then it’s her own damn fault!”

“There are two sides to every story,” she concluded.  “And no one should believe her words without hearing his too.  She cannot ruin the reputation of a nice man.”  I have heard it one too many times—usually from the same people—that whenever they bring it up, I just either leave the discussion (because it will piss me off) or keep my mouth shut (because they’ll never get it).

Domestic violence is never the fault of the victim.  NEVER.  Period.

Let’s have a few examples:

Kate’s work meeting ran late.  She got home at 6pm instead of 5pm as she usually does.  She started dinner, but did not finish by the time her husband got home from work at 6:30pm.  Regardless of her reason, her husband didn’t want to hear any of it.  He expected dinner to be ready by the time he came home every day.  He verbally abused her for the next couple of hours.

Alexandra was excited about her friend’s birthday party.  Her boyfriend showed up and told her that there’s been a change of plans.  He was going to his cousin’s to hang out instead.
“Well, you don’t have to go with me to Mary’s if you don’t want to,” Alexandra said.
“If I’m not going, then you’re not going.”
“I’m going!  She’s my best friend; I can’t just not go.”
“You’re not going!”
“Why can’t I do anything with my friends, but you’re always drinking with your buddies?!”
“Because you’re a slut and I know what you’ll do when I’m not there!”
“I’m not a slut and I’m going.  I don’t care what you say.”
“You’re really not going to listen to me?”
Alexandra’s boyfriend grabbed her and slapped her a couple of times.
“If you don’t listen to me next time, it’s going to be worse,” he said as he left.

Olivia refused to get an abortion after her boyfriend told her he didn’t want to keep the baby.  Her boyfriend kicked her in the stomach every time the subject was brought up until she had a miscarriage.

What do the stories illustrate to you?  Was it the victims’ faults that they brought the abuse onto themselves?  Or do you hold the abuser accountable for the abuse?

Just for the sake of argument, let’s try to look at the abusers’ sides of the stories. Kate’s husband did not get to have dinner right when he got home from work.  Kate was an incompetent wife.  What’s so hard about having dinner ready for a hard-working husband, right?

Alexandra’s boyfriend did not want her to attend her friend’s birthday party.  She shouldn’t have argued with him.  He just wanted to be respected and listened to. Alexandra knew what her boyfriend was capable of.  If she had only listened to him, he wouldn’t have slapped her.

Olivia should’ve never gotten pregnant.  And besides, she should’ve gotten an abortion.  That would’ve prevented her from being kicked.  Poor guy, he didn’t want to be stuck with the responsibilities of a child.

Sadly, this is how society views abuse.  If the victim had or hadn’t done this or that, she wouldn’t have been abused.  She could’ve prevented it, but she didn’t, so it’s her fault.  If only she had given in to his demands, if only she had no personal boundaries, no personal rights, if only she hadn’t pushed him to his limit….

Many people request that we please stop and look at the situation from both sides of the stories before helping an abused victim.  But do we really need to know the reason behind an abuser’s actions?  No, because no matter what the reasons are, it still gives them no right to abuse.  An abusive person will use whatever means possible to gain and maintain power and control.  By saying that there are two sides to an abusive relationship does not make the abuser accountable and blames the victim for creating the problem.

It really irritates me when people ask that I please look at an abuser’s perspective before jumping to conclusions.  I cannot fathom how someone can abuse the person they claim to love.  A non-abusive person would approach any conflict with non-violent resolutions.  A non-abusive person would not become aggressive if dinner wasn’t ready on time, if their partner wanted to hang out with friends, or if she had gotten pregnant.  Why should we give abusers the benefit of the doubt that he had good reasoning behind his actions?  He has no right to treat her that way.  End of story.  (I understand that domestic violence is a learned behavior and the abuser most likely grew up in an abusive environment, but that still does not make it okay for him to abuse).

Note: I know that women can abuse men.  However, statistics show that men are more violent and abusive than women.  That is why the language in this blog post is gender-specific to men as the abusers.

10 thoughts on “Two Sides to Every Story

  1. I was abused by my ex-boyfriend and he blamed everything on me, even when it was his fault. If I knew the things I did now, I would have never dated the men I did; but I wouldn’t be as wise as I am today.


    1. An abuser will blame everything on the victim. Unfortunately, certain people will take the side of the abuser either because they are friends or family or they refuse to acknowledge that the person they know is capable of doing such things. Thank you for sharing.


    2. Zuag, I am so sorry to hear what you had been through and it is never ever your fault. Secondly, if he comes up with all sort of lame-duck excuses that you ask for it, well, it’s all bull coming from him.


  2. Great post, MaiBao. Men who control and justify their abuse are nothing but cowards and monsters. Abuse is never the victims’ fault. Yes, I too get angry when people say just take a look at the abusers’ perspectives. For goodness sake, what perspective? This is not perspective, this is more of justifying their actions as abusers and cowards all in one.


  3. Great post, I happened to stumble upon your blog, it was very thought provoking.

    I’ve recently written a piece on the views of an abused person and it kinda ties into to the whole ‘the abuser will never take responsibility for it’ motif you bring up.

    let me know what you think


    I would say that a ‘reality’ to someone regardless of how skewed it is, is still their reality in that moment in time.

    on the complete flipside, as an external party, when you show victims of abuse your side of things, they will come up of one to compensate it which is just as skewed as the person who abused them.

    the altering of perception seems to be the key here


  4. This post reminded me of an ex-boyfriend of my niece’s. He was verbally and physically abusive to her. She would cry to me but tried as I may, I could not get her to break up with him. One day, she had come to my house to cry to me about him and I had had enough. I demanded to talk to him and for her to call him. She texted him that I wanted to talk to him and surprisingly, he said he wanted to talk to me too. When I called, he picked up and I just went at him. He kept trying to justify his abusive behavior to me. He kept saying I didn’t know his side of things and that if I knew, I would also feel that she deserved it. I just calmly told him that I didn’t care what his reasons were, that I didn’t care about ‘his side of the story” cause he was no one special to me. I told him that what mattered to me was that he was verbally and physically abusive to someone I loved and I wasn’t going to put up with that then I basically told him to keep away from her.

    I still can’t believe, to this day, that he truly believed that he had a right to abuse her, so much so that he was actually trying to convince ME, her aunt, someone who loved her dearly, to empathize with him. LOL What a creep!


    1. It’s not surprising that he did that. Abusers will try to justify their actions. But no matter what, they don’t have any right to harm another person, especially the person they claim to love. Thank you for sharing.


  5. I just recently found your website. I love your blog so much.. What you say here are so true, I think most men today are still very close minded. I truly feel sad for us ( hmong girl). No matter what we do, we will always look bad to the hmong community, if we don’t follow the culture rules…
    My husband, once abuse me physically, than one day I got tired of it. I told him, if he ever hit me again, I will leave him, since than he haven’t lay a hand on me anymore. My husband still verbally abuse me, but I don’t care, because I don’t listen to him. Like I always say, they can say whatever they want, because deep down inside my heart I know who I am. I am a strong and independent women..


  6. The notion that if a wife get beat by her husband then she must have somehow deserved it is very much ingrain in hmong society. The sad thing is that hmong women are just as likely (if not more) as men to defend and believe that. In my personal experience, women have even encourage it. My brother in law used to beat my sister in law senseless, kicked her down the stair with his steel toes boots for the smallest “infraction”, I used to defend her and get in his face about it until one day I heard tell her friends that I had such a big mouth because my husband did not know how to be a man and put me in my place, that a few kicks and slaps would teach me how to behave… and she is not the only one. My own mother, aunts etc. all had said at one point that if ever my husband was to hit me they all know it will be because I pushed him to it… This is the kind of backward thinking that really get to me, especially from women who should know better…Hmong Men are not gonna change until Hmong women change themselve.


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