People who batter can use their own vulnerabilities (such as their own experience surviving racism or homophobia, dealing with a mental illness or a previous assault, or facing exploitation in their family of origin or in the workplace) to control and manipulate friends, lovers, family, colleagues, and comrades. They set up loyalty tests. They believe that they are the victims. Often their vulnerabilities are real - and everyone’s vulnerabilities matter and merit reasonable attention - but their sense of persecution and entitlement is devastating to their loved ones and the community. Activist communities may believe that we are immune to such manipulations, but that’s simply arrogant and wrong of us. We are the least immune because we are the most compelled by the interplay of the individual condition with the systems of oppression operating in our world. Activist communities are particularly susceptible to manipulation by abusers because we are the most likely to have compassion for how abusers experience institutional oppression and to understand how they are victims of unjust systems. Our empathy confounds our ability to see people who face oppression as people who could also be capable of, and should be accountable for, abuse.
That whirling dervishes do not know which way is up
Screaming “what is art?”
Samson had two vulnerabilities, however: his attraction to untrustworthy women and his hair, without which he was powerless.
Where Ive figured out that facts can often sound like Billie Holliday
Who will read me rumi by my bedside?
And float with me
Up marble stairs
To haunt brownstones in Bed-Stuy