One of the things that can make accusations of abuse or rape or other consent violations really confusing is that it is a very common tactic for both parties to make similar accusations. I saw someone asking the other day how to tell where the truth is in such cases.
I don’t have a magic answer for you, but I can tell you the guideline I use which I feel fairly confident in (aside from my own instincts which are quite good) — look for the goals. Abusers want power over — they want to continue to control or destroy their target. So they will claim abuse as a justification for continuing to hound/monitor/dox/harass the person they claim is an abuser. Most of the time, victims want to be left alone. They want to be safe. They don’t want any further interaction with their abuser.
So if someone is claiming abuse but the only acceptable resolution is total elimination of the target? That’s abuse.
To be clear, no one should be forced to interact with anyone that makes them feel unsafe for any reason.
Also, please note that I am speaking in broad strokes here. This is a guideline, not a rule — use your judgment. I’m sharing this because I’ve seen this tactic used enough times to turn people against a target (this is how gamergate began, for instance) and the mantra of “believe victims” is turned against victims themselves.
Originally published on Medium.