The Abused Abuser: 17 October Revolution
Pursuing my masters in Trauma Psychology, I had to leave Lebanon and its revolution to attend my classes in UK for few days. My classmates were asking about the situation back in Lebanon; they had heard lots about it from the news. While explaining that some violence is happening from citizens who are defending their politicians, one of my classmates commented: “that’s so similar to the relationship between an abused woman and her husband. Don't you think?” We delved so deep in this conversation to try to understand the situation further. To explain that, I’ll simplify it in bullets points.
Key points explaining a relationship between an abused woman and her abusive husband:
- He harms her verbally, physically, sexually, and/or emotionally.
- He acknowledges his mistakes but always finds an excuse for these.
- He doesn't abuse her at all times. He gives her love, which is her basic right in this relationship, from time to time.
- He explains that the harm he is doing is for her own benefit.
- He shows her that his presence keeps her safe and the outside world is unknown and could be dangerous.
- She believes that he is trying his best to make things better because he loves her.
Looking at the Lebanese politicians and citizens we see that:
- Politicians are part of a corrupt system that is causing lack of basic needs to the population.
- Politicians acknowledge not doing positive change in the country but blame it on other parties who are not letting them do so.
- Politicians do not deprive the population fully. They do offer benefits that should be guaranteed by the government if it wasn't corrupt (jobs, judicial support…).
- Politicians explain that their acts are a way to defend the group (religious, regional…) and that the ultimate goal deserves sacrifice.
- Politicians introduce the idea of constant danger, plotting themselves as protectors and linking their absence with the unknown and emptiness.
- Citizens believe that their politicians are trying their best to make their lives better because they care about them.
If we dig deeper into both relationships, we see that despite their strength, smartness, power, and knowledge, some citizens still fall for the trap of defending a politician that is harming them and their future, exactly like a well-educated woman who faces the world with her strength and power but still falls for an abusive man.
The most commonly used phrase to describe the citizen-leader relationship is “the sheep following the troop”, but this wasn't one my choices. Citizens are not stupid. They have their reasons and we need to understand the complex mechanisms of these relationships to be able to communicate with them. Just like you cannot expect an abused friend to leave her husband by telling her that she is stupid for choosing him.
Finally, I would like to point out that citizens-leader relationships are transgenerational and national and therefore result in deeper attachment.