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We need to stop saying “hurt people hurt people”

Everyone is hurt.

Suffering is part of the human condition. There is not a person out there that doesn’t understand the feeling of hurt. So yes, all abusers are hurt, but so is everyone else.


It’s invalidating.

This expression is commonly used to try and reframe a victim’s experience - often with the intention of lessening the pain by offering perspective. Ultimately, it communicates to survivors, “If you could see the bigger picture you wouldn’t feel this way.” It implicitly says, “I’m not interested what happened to you, I’m interested in what happened to THEM.”


It shuts down curiosity about the victim’s experience.

When we move the focus of a conversation to the trauma of the abuser rather than the experience of the survivor we are no longer curious about their experience. We have essentially moved on – putting a stop to their ability to process what’s happened.


It monopolizes hurt to abusers

Yes, happy/regulated people don’t engage in abusive behavior, but neither do most hurt individuals. Empathetic, loving, radiant people can be equally as traumatized. It reinforces the idea that highly functional individuals don’t get to acknowledge their pain. It must not have been THAT bad if you’re doing so well.


Deflects accountability.

“They didn’t mean to...” 

“They were just raised to...” 

“They’re just so lonely...”

These statements are typically offered not in addition to demanding appropriate accountability but in lieu of it.


It’s irrelevant and places survivors on the outside.

The time to acknowledge an abuser’s hurt, is when the abuser is receiving their own trauma support. This expression places survivors on the outside of their own trauma-stories by asking them to focus on the abuser. And you cannot integrate trauma-story that you aren’t a part of.

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