Filling the Empty Seat

An Abuser's Activism

One thing about being an abuser: you're no longer a political subject. You are an object of discussion. People talk about you, but they're not talking to you, and certainly not listening to what you have to say. They might entertain a simili-discussion with you, but it's not about listening, it's about them trying to find in your discourse the proof that you're really a Bad Person™.

Even if such a discussion existed, "abuser" is a position from which nothing can be said. Almost by definition, abusers are unreliable sources: they only talk on order to gain power on others or avoid a well-deserved punishment. When I became an abuser, I looked for texts written by my peers to try to make sense of my new condition, and I found almost nothing. When someone called an abuser talks, it's about how they're ACTUALLY NOT an abuser, or why they're NOT REALLY or NO LONGER and abuser, or why they take some time out to come back "not-an-abuser" again. Nobody can say "Hey, I'm Jim, I'm an abuser, nice to meet you". Some people say "we are all abusers", but nobody says "I am an abuser". Some people say "I've hurt people in my past", but it's always implied that things are different now.

In the conservations about abuse (and so, the conversation about justice), there is a perpetually empty seat. One nobody wants to fill. Sometimes, we put someone on the spot, but not before they had been properly silenced. Abusers have nothing good to say. They are nothing good. They have no rights to defend themselves – and to "defend an abuser" is a crime almost as capital than being an abuser themselves. To be an abuser is not being "someone who commited abuse", it's being the living embodiment of abuse.

So, when I was put on the spot, I quickly understood that. What I was supposed to do what to get the fuck out of it. As quickly as possible, but not too quickly – it's not a good look. I was supposed to either pack my bags and go live somewhere else as a "normal person" with a dark secret in my past, or to try to convince people around me that I wasn't really the abuser they say I am, praying for them to side with me and not the "anti-me party", or to go on a spiritual retreat with therapy, soul-searching, whatever, for enough time for it to be believable when I would go back and say I had changed.

I quickly understood that there was a performance I was expected to learn.