Sometimes people do horrible things. Terrible things. Things you can’t imagine a person would ever do, certainly not someone you know.
Certainly not someone who goes to church, or gives to charity, or both.
Certainly not the person who helped you fix your car, and didn’t expect anything in return.
Certainly not the person who smiles at you every time you see them.
Except that sometimes, otherwise good people do horrible things, like abuse other people.
We all want to believe that abusers are bad through and through–that you could recognize them just by looking at them, or that you could eliminate abuse as a possibility just by seeing someone do nice things. Believing this makes the world feel safer, because it means no one you know could possibly be an abuser.
Except that’s not how it is. Most abusers are nice people. They go to church; they give to charity; they help you fix your car.
They love their children; they love their spouse.
And because of all these things, you close your eyes to the warnings. You assume the best. Because that’s what’s reasonable to do.
Except that abuse is an unreasonable circumstance which makes the reasonable thing the dead wrong thing.
Except when you turn that blind eye–when you assume a person with good qualities cannot be an abuser–you give them the shelter they need to just keep on abusing.
Because abusers surround themselves with communities that accept abuse. That’s what abusers do.
The best thing we can do to make sure we aren’t creating those communities is to educate ourselves about what abuse really looks like (and what it doesn’t look like) and make sure we listen when other people are crying out for help.