Do you view your abuser(s) as evil or sick?

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
Do you view your primary abuser(s) as evil, mentally ill, both, or something else?

I was listening to a philosophy podcast today about Nietzsche’s view on free will. He basically didn’t think it existed, took a more deterministic approach, but said that it was a useful concept for describing our experience of reality.

Without free will, he didn’t believe that criminals were evil, they were just a product of a series of unfortunate events and their actions were an outcome of that, similar to some of the more liberal views on criminals—that people are a product of their environment and don’t have as much agency as conservatives say we have.

Nietzsche’s view on punishment was that the purpose wasn’t for something that someone did in the past but rather to prevent things that might happen in the future.

When I was first processing my abuse (which was repressed in my mind for four decades) I could only see my primary abuser as evil. This was the only helpful view. Then later as I progressed in my recovery I had fantasies of retribution, of justice, murdering him to remove him from the Earth. But of course I realized that I couldn’t remove him from my mind.

I’m still no contact. People on here helped me realize that it wasn’t the individual acts that he did but the overall person. Overall he was someone that I don’t want in my life.

I don’t want evil people on my life. But I also don’t want mentally ill people in my life if I don’t have to. But do I have more tolerance for mentally ill people than for evil people?

The ideas of evil and free will mean that a person has a choice. This is the crux. This is what people on here and in real life have said to me. They say things like, “He was an adult. Adults don’t do that to children. Would you do that to a child? He made the choice.”

This makes it hard for people who were abused as children by other children. Or people who were abused by people with diagnosed mental illnesses. Once I heard a story about a woman who was sexually assaulted by an orangutan. It happened at a rescue facility. She did not have any PTSD because humans don’t view animals as being capable of free will. She didn’t think she was targeted. In the old days animals and even objects could be put on trial (for example there are cases in which a cart was put on trial as a witch for turning over and killing someone, and a circus elephant was hanged in the early 20th century for stampeding.).

Part of me doesn’t accept that criminals have no free will or that abusers have no free will. It hurts parts of me who need that idea to feel okay. Because I don’t want to talk to my dad ever again. If he were simply mentally ill would he deserve to be ostracized for the rest of his life? He only deserves that if he had free will and made a choice?

However, could I view him as mentally ill and still maintain no contact with him? As a way to protect myself? There are lots of mentally ill people in my city and in my neighborhood. I don’t talk to them, I avoid them. I’m not a social worker, I’m not trained in behavioral health. I see those mentally ill people as people I need to be careful around and protect myself from being hurt by. I have been Threatened by mentally ill people. It might not be directed at me personally but it would still hurt and it still frightens me.

I am rambling as I explore this concept. My conclusion for me is that maybe my primary abuser can be viewed as mentally ill and I still maintain no contact with him. Does it help my emotional health to view him as ill? Maybe.
 

Teasel

MyPTSD Pro
I don't see my abuser as evil or mentally ill. I mean, he was a pedophile, which you could say is evil and sick... but I think he had choice over his actions.

I think I agree with what Lundy Bancroft has to say about abusers - that they have a set of values that tell them that it is ok to treat someone that way.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
they have a set of values
Did they have a hand in forming those values? (Generally speaking)
I don't see my abuser as evil or mentally ill
How would you characterize him then, if you don’t mind sharing? I wonder if you consider pedophilia a diagnosis? When you say one *could* characterize a pedophile as both evil and sick that leads me to believe there are other ways besides those to characterize them, and I am curious about that.
I think he had choice
I think my idea is that evil implies having a choice. If they have a choice, based on a set of values, and they make that choice then that would be morally bad, aka evil, I think. I don’t know if someone can choose to abuse and be considered something other than evil. Can you or someone broaden my mind to other ways of characterizing a person who chooses to abuse?

I think my idea was that evil implies free choice and mentally ill implies blind fate.
 

Charbella

MyPTSD Pro
I think my idea is that evil implies having a choice.
That’s odd to me. I think of evil as inherent. Something you’re born being. I know it’s odd that someone can be born that way which is why I have a hard time someone is just evil. People make evil choices but it always seems when we bother to look there are reasons they make such horrible decisions.

For instance, what happened to the pedophiles? There’s almost always something. Abused sexually, physically, emotionally as kids…generally. Do I agree with their terrible choices? Absolutely not, but then I’ve done things I’m not especially proud of either, just because my choices are extreme, illegal and immoral does that mean that they are evil? Not sure I can make that condemnation.

Sick? As in mentally ill, yes. But personally I don’t want to slap the same label on them that one could slap on me, because we are not the same. I saw the pay caused and went the opposite.

There is evil in the world and while they were perpetrating their crimes did they represent that evil, yes, absolutely. Are they evil? I’m not sure I could say.
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
I think of evil as inherent.
Interesting. So on the one hand you think that some people are born evil. But on the other hand you consider the same word just a form of really bad, as in…
evil choices

just because my choices are extreme, illegal and immoral does that mean that they are evil? Not sure I can make that condemnation.
Intentions matter maybe? To make the distinction between your choices and those choices you might consider evil?
mentally ill, yes. But personally I don’t want to slap the same label on them that one could slap on me,
This is my dilemma as well. I don’t want to put my abuser in a category that I could be included in, which is a conundrum and why I chose initially to see him as something like an evil monster alien. That was the easiest way to begin the process of untangling my enmeshment with him. I am no longer enmeshed, but I still dream about him, and it bothers me, but only as an annoyance.
while they were perpetrating their crimes did they represent that evil, yes,
But somehow they go in and out of representing evil. Hmmm… interesting… I will ponder that perspective.
 

Teasel

MyPTSD Pro
Did they have a hand in forming those values?
Well, if I ask myself if I have a hand in forming my values, yes, I do.
How would you characterize him then, if you don’t mind sharing? I wonder if you consider pedophilia a diagnosis? When you say one *could* characterize a pedophile as both evil and sick that leads me to believe there are other ways besides those to characterize them, and I am curious about that.
I'll start by saying I'm no expert, I thought pedophilia was being attracted to children. A quick read of wikipedia says no, it's a psychiatric disorder. Later in the article it says non pedophillic child abusers tested as psychopathic, and pedophiles as not.
Other ways to see them than evil or sick: there is a tiny bit of me thinking calling him evil is a bit much. I'm thinking of the banality of evil. Somehow calling him evil is too flattering of this pathetic man who hurt children. I know that he was deluded. Thinking it a 2 way relationship. I think telling himself something like that might aid in not feeling so bad about it. But he is still responsible for his actions in my mind. It took not inconsiderable manipulation and grooming on his part.

I suppose I also think of evil as being a very simplistic label.

I'm not religious and that might affect my view of the word.
I think my idea is that evil implies having a choice. If they have a choice, based on a set of values, and they make that choice then that would be morally bad, aka evil, I think. I don’t know if someone can choose to abuse and be considered something other than evil. Can you or someone broaden my mind to other ways of characterizing a person who chooses to abuse?

I think my idea was that evil implies free choice and mentally ill implies blind fate
Other ways to characterise people who abuse? Selfish.

Also, you and I are mentally ill, I don't see any blind fate for us to harm anyone.

Lundy bancroft says that on the whole people who abuse their partners are not mentally ill. He talks about people having a world view that they must win over others, otherwise they will be the loser. Whereas a lot of non abusive people believe in win win or cooperating with their partners.

Thanks for this thread anyhow. I've not put much thought into this.
 

Weemie

MyPTSD Pro
The more I understand neurobiology, the more deterministic I become. If you accept the premise that people don't choose to be born, nor choose their brain structure, then it becomes far more difficult to assign the rest of their choices purpose and meaning beyond circuitry. To that end, I don't believe that evil exists, because evil implies a mythological status that cannot be defined using ordinary logic.

And even then, when I encounter things that have no logical explanation, my impulse is to instead look at the nature of reality itself. For example, it makes no rational sense to me that we exist in a linear status, where there is ultimate purpose and meaning to crimes against humanity where innocent people are forced to desecrate dead bodies and endure spiritual violation.

To me, that reads as nonsense, so it becomes more easy for the seams of reality itself to begin breaking down, and I start positing that perhaps we do live in a simulated environment, and this is the result of "malfunctioning code." Then again, I am also more easily able to put myself in the same category as my abusers, because my abusers forced me to abuse. Many think that violent actions separate one from greater humanity, whereas I believe that violent actions are human actions.

The example above of pedophilia, for example, most studies of violent sexual offenders these days conclude that a pedophile is generally "born," not made - there are distinctions to their neuroanatomy that are not present in non-pedophiles. We also have studies of populations of self-policing sex offenders who do end up feeling remorse and are capable of not acting on their impulses - to that end, we see human reason wins out over biology.

And if I accept the premise that my own biology was impacted by my experiences (which it was, as I am highly neurodivergent and developmentally impaired - is this a result of my experiences, was I also "made" and not "born" and can we actually track how one affects the other?) then I too have living proof of being able to choose to think, instead of behave violently and sadistically - though I also have evidence of losing control and behaving poorly.

My instinct is to say that the times that I've lost control do not mean I am evil, or inhuman. They do mean that I am not able to function in ordinary society, in that moment.
 
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You have a choice, too. You don't have to stop going no contact if you decide your abuser is mentally ill and not evil. If NC is working for you, why stop doing what's working?

My abuser had PTSD, but made choices that had terrible consequences for me in order to protect herself. Over time, I believe her choices became more and more disconnected from her PTSD and more aimed at specifically destroying me. Is that evil? I don't know. In the end I don't think it matters to me. As a fully functional adult, she always had choices, and she chose to try to destroy me. That sounds pretty evil, but I couldn't have predicted the consequences of her actions at the time. At the time, I didn't realize it was abuse and possibly she didn't either. But I'll never know.

This answer really got away from me. But the bottom line is whether evil or just mentally ill, she clearly had choices. She made the decision to abuse me, and I'm never going to let her off the hook for making the choices she did.
 

Roland

MyPTSD Pro
I think you're missing how all three of these things can overlap. My dad abused me for years, and never improved, or apologized, and he denied any of it happening and always downplayed it. Why did he do this? No one can really know. But I know he isn't by definition a pedophile, because I believe he prefers adult women. Nonetheless, he sexually abused both my sister and I. I don't think he can choose what turns him on or not, but I think he could have chosen to not abuse us. I believe his parents abused him, but those details are blurry, he didn't talk about it much. So whether he has an innate attraction to children or it was made by his parents, doesn't matter that much because he still chose to abuse children. Just because I'm attracted to someone doesn't mean I abuse them?? But then the mentally ill factor. I believe he has narcissistic personality disorder, and likely a few other unspecified disorders (he's never been diagnosed). He can't choose to not be mentally ill. He can't choose to not be attracted to children. But he did choose to abuse people. So anyways, I think all three work in tandem with one another. Abusers have free will, they are evil (for exploiting people), and can be mentally ill. It's hard to really use the case of my dad as an informal people study because we don't really know his official diagnoses, we don't know his history, or what motivates him. How do I look at it specifically? That's a good question, I mean I think I look at it from many different angles, kinda like how I've broken it down here. I have empathy for how he may have grown up (and subsequently caused him to be borderline pedophilic, and mentally ill). But I also put the responsibility on him for not even trying to get better, and for doing the things that he did (free will).
 

OliveJewel

MyPTSD Pro
you and I are mentally ill, I don't see any blind fate for us to harm anyone.
I don’t think all mentally ill people harm others, but that those who do might have less agency than a person without mental illness who does? I don’t mind being mentally ill like my dad. If I am
Sharing a category with him I prefer mentally I’ll to evil, broken, corrupt.
violent actions are human actions.
I agree.
clearly had choices.
I think this is a helpful perspective for healing, to give the abuser agency.
anyways, I think all three work in tandem with one another. Abusers have free will, they are evil (for exploiting people), and can be mentally ill.
Likely. I recognize that my brain is trying to make it black and white, which so rarely is ever the case.
not able to function in ordinary society, in that moment.
This makes sense. And back to Nietzsche’s idea of the purpose of punishment—to prevent something from happening in the future. Obviously my dad can’t abuse me as a baby again. Like Roland, I’m pretty sure my dad only sexually abused me and not other children (but I think he was sexually abusing my mom) but unlike Roland I know without a doubt that his dad was a sociopathic pedophile so there is a clear “cause”. So he was “set up” by his dad to fail. He almost got away with it because I repressed it for 40 years, but he did a bunch of other bad shit besides the csa—again probably from his own conditioning. But he mostly only did it to me, my brother, and my mom—but we are a part of society too. And he couldn’t function properly in that aspect of society many many times. So my no contact with him is a punishment for him but it also is a boundary for me AND it sets a precedent for my daughter and sons and people who know me that I refuse to allow someone who treated me poorly to have access to my heart. So in that way it’s communicating my value and others might take that into consideration with how they treat me or my daughter or their own family members—Maybe?!
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i respectfully disagree with Nietzsche on his disbelief in free will as adamantly as i disagree with his disbelief in god. both are impossible to prove, so ? ? ? ya believe what you believe. the heart goes where it goes.

personally, i view evil as a judgement more than a fact. deeds are evil. the performers of evil deeds are sick. imprisoning the sickly people who perform those evil deeds is more about protection for all than punishment for the sick.

just believing. . . proof irrelevant.
 

DharmaGirl

MyPTSD Pro
Some of my abusers were diagnosed mentally ill. Schizophrenic and Schizoaffective. That allowed me to heal knowing that they might not have made the choice to abuse me had they not been mentally ill. The important part is that I was able to heal. I don't think they were evil. I had a friend that had something wrong with her that caused her to have to stir the pot, prove that most men (and women in some circumstances) wanted her, and that things were not her fault. She was abusive to me and others and was never (to my knowledge) diagnosed with anything. She was incredibly self-destructive so I would hesitate to call her evil, but she was close to it.
 
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