Why do we tolerate abusers?

It's beyond time we stopped making excuses.

click to enlarge Why do we tolerate abusers?

Last week, the Tampa Bay Times broke the story that a prominent member of the Bay area craft brewing community had been accused of physical abuse by a woman with whom he was in a romantic relationship; he was subsequently charged with misdemeanor battery. The Times story also detailed accusations of previous abuse, as well as multiple prior dropped and dismissed charges.

Naturally, social media went crazy.

Between the calls for his head and expressions of sympathy for the victims, though, were intimations that, to some, this wasn’t a surprise. Phrases like “I can’t believe it took this long to come out” peppered comment feeds, and even the accused himself seemed to imply that his behavior wasn’t completely unknown to those in his circle and industry — granted, it was in a weak-ass why-didn’t-anybody-stop-me sort of way, but it was in there, between the (admittedly true) lines about how signs of alcohol abuse and mental illness are often ignored in certain cultural microcosms.

But seriously, why didn’t anybody stop him?

If his behavior wasn’t completely unknown to those in his circle and industry, why didn’t anybody say something? Or if people were saying something, why weren’t they saying it to the people who might have actually been in a position to do something about it?

In short, why are so many of us — and I’m thinking pretty much exclusively of men — content to continue to be friends with an abuser?

Maybe we don’t think it’s our place to say anything. Maybe we’re not sure what we’re seeing qualifies as abuse. Maybe we’re worried that we’ll make it worse for the victim. Maybe we don’t want to ruin the life of somebody we care about. Maybe we don’t want to ruin the life of somebody we don’t particularly care about, it’s just that that somebody looks enough like us that we could imagine ourselves in a similar situation — accused of something life-ruining.

Do any of these reasons sound weak-ass to you?

Are any of these reasons enough to allow abuse to continue if you know — not “heard from a guy who knows a guy” or “saw a post vaguebooking about it” way, but know — abuse is occurring?

We know the difference between accusing somebody online of something without any evidence and actually having witnessed it, but some of us repeat third-hand accusations anyway. We know abuse when we see it, but some of us choose to ignore that feeling in our heart and gut and pretend we don’t.

We know the difference between right and wrong, but some of us choose to say nothing when we see wrong being done.

For whatever reason.

It’s never reason enough.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, 7venth Sun Brewery will host a “Break the Silence” event at both its locations (6809 N. Nebraska Ave. in Tampa; 1012 Broadway in Dunedin) to raise money for two organizations that provide shelter and support for abuse victims, The Spring of Tampa Bay and CASA St. Pete. There will be specialty beer tappings, food, raffles and more. Interested parties may also donate at chuffed.org/project/break-the-silence. 

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