Monday, November 30, 2015

Didn't mean to

[Trigger warnings/content warnings for abuse, gaslighting, victim-blaming, and violence]
Scenario: Person accidentally burns you with a cigarette.

Correct response: Whoa! I’m sorry! Would you like me to get you a bandage/ointment?

Incorrect responses:
  • I didn’t mean to; that’s what we need to focus on.
  • You need to stop being so sensitive to cigarette burns.
  • What would have been REALLY bad is if I burned you on purpose.
  • What would have been REALLY bad is if I burned you more times.
  • What would have been REALLY bad is if I burned you with something worse than a cigarette. Actually, I might just do that if you don’t shut up.
  • I think you’re making it up and I didn’t even touch you with my cigarette.
  • I think you got that burn mark from something else. It wasn’t me.
  • You wouldn’t complain this much about a little burn if you weren’t REALLY damaged by some other person’s burn before me. That’s the real culprit.
  • I burned you as a joke. This is how my buddies and I joke and nobody cares about being scarred.

  • I think you’re exaggerating that it hurts. I’ve never been burned before but I can’t imagine it hurts as much as you’re claiming.
  • I think you’re exaggerating how much it hurts. I’ve been burned before and it didn’t hurt that much.
  • I think you’re exaggerating how much it hurts. I got burned through my clothes on a different part of my body once. I don’t see how getting burned on your bare skin on a more sensitive area could be that much different.
  • I think you’re focusing far too much on my carelessness. Things like this are just going to happen to you automatically if you’re existing in the world.
  • I think you wanted to get burned if you were sitting that close to me while I’m smoking.
  • I think you put yourself in the path of my cigarette because you enjoy crying that everyone’s out to burn you.
  • Fine, I’ll think about entering a smoking cessation program. Is that what you wanted to hear?
  • You’re trying to guilt me into quitting smoking.
  • You want me to feel guilty about this but I’m not going to play your game.

  • If I buy you some medicine for it, will you stop pointing out that I burned you? I’m really sick of you reminding me.
  • That crying/pain noise/impaired use of the body part I burned is a performance to make me feel bad, isn’t it?
  • Why are people so worried about burns anyway? By complaining about it, you’re infringing on my right to smoke and not think about if I burn people now and then.
  • You have other pains besides the burn. Do you just expect people to help you with everything unpleasant in your life?
  • I’m sorry that it hurts but I don’t see where that’s my problem.
  • I’m sorry that it hurts but you probably had it coming to you if you wanted to be friends with a smoker.
  • I can’t unburn you, so why fixate on it?
  • I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll be less careless next time. You happy? That what you wanted?
Do you understand that this is what you sound like when you defend yourself after burning people less literally? It’s pretty simple. Any response you give that a) blames the victim; b) focuses on your feelings as the perpetrator as more important than their feelings as the victim; c) derails the conversation into something unrelated to what you did; or d) consists of any minimization of their pain is the wrong thing to do here. The right thing to do is relatively easy: Acknowledge responsibility, apologize sincerely, and immediately look for a way to help that the victim is okay with.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been insulted, harassed, or mocked by someone who IMMEDIATELY uses one of the “don’t” bullet points when I call attention to their wrongdoing and claim it’s hurtful. If your first thought after hurting someone is to bully them into pretending you didn’t, it doesn’t matter if you “didn’t mean to” hurt them. Your actions from that point on speak far louder than any carelessness or ignorance that fueled the original wound.

Go get the ointment and actually mean it when you apologize. If you won’t, don’t be surprised when no one believes that you want your victim to heal.

No comments:

Post a Comment