I learned about this idea at work today, but couldn’t find anything online…so here’s my amateur attempt at graphic design 😉
I was learning about reporting abuse for vulnerable adults, (and children,) but really this circle of abuse applies to everyone who is “stuck” with an abuser. Usually we hear about cycles of abuse–the cycle wherein the abuser is sweet, then builds up, then attacks, apologizes, and starts over being sweet again. This idea of circles of abuse was interesting to me. I think it could apply to anyone who tries to get help with domestic violence, but doesn’t get the help they need; however, in our training class, it applied to the vulnerable who cannot communicate for themselves and need people to look out for them. The point was that EVERYONE who was part of the circles around the abuse was guilty of failing the victim. Look at all the people who knew, heard about, or suspected abuse…yet didn’t report. On the other hand, it also reminds us that, if the inner circles fail to report, the next one out could still catch the abuse and put an end to it. Even if you never saw the abuse or heard about it, you could still recognize signs of abuse in the victim’s reaction and reach out to help them. Better safe than sorry!
The circles of abuse are depressing when people let the victim down…but they are also hopeful. If the first round witness screws up, there is still the next line of defense.
Even among adults who can speak up for themselves, these circles of abuse exist. If my neighbor sees my spouse abusing me and they fail to call the police, they are failing me. If they tell another neighbor what they saw and that neighbor doesn’t give the police a warning, they too are failing me. If my best friend sees all the weird signs that I’ve been abused and doesn’t speak up, then she is failing me.
If you see your neighbor beating their child and you don’t report it, you are failing that child. If you tell your mom and she doesn’t alert the authorities, she is failing that child. If the child goes to school covered in bruises and avoiding others, the teacher is failing the child.
Not that we are all responsible for being mind readers, but in the big picture, if we know or have reason to believe anyone is being abused, we need to speak up–if only to talk to the victim and get more details. There are people in the world who might not be able to report they are being abused, or might be afraid to report. We can do our part by noticing and saying something.