When the abuser(s) do not face court or they get found not guilty in court, this can cause immense frustration and anger. It is completely legitimate to want those who commit sexual offence held to account, and to have the injustice of the abuse acknowledged by the courts (which hold a special position as a kind of ‘representative’ of society). When this doesn’t happen, ideas of revenge and retribution can start to appear.
Men can often feel pressure to take matters into their own hands and personally seek revenge from those who commit abuse. Revenge can get confused with justice and when this happens it rarely leads to a positive outcome. It may result in further abuse and violence, increased frustration, or, at the extreme, can result in you appearing before a court.
Some people may feel that they need to confront the person who committed the abuse, to have them acknowledge their actions and to hear the impacts. In our experience, this is only helpful when it has been carefully planned with professional support. The person who committed the abuse must be willing to acknowledge their crime and take some steps towards publicly accepting responsibility, such as making admissions to police and undergoing counselling.
If the person is not willing to admit their crimes or to respectfully hear the people who have experienced abuse speak, such confrontations have the potential to increase distress, anger and feelings of powerless.
‘The best revenge is to live well’
It is important not to lose sight of the bigger purpose of these thoughts about justice, revenge, and so on: to live a satisfying, fulfilling life. Try to focus on your own priorities and preferences for your life.
Questions to consider:
Before taking any action, it can be useful to slow things down and to consider:.
- What am I thinking?
- What am I feeling? (Grade the intensity of each feeling from 1-10)
- What steps do I need to take to first reduce the level of distress and intensity of feeling in order to carefully consider options, prior to any actions?
- Is there someone I can talk to assist me in carefully examining options and the costs and benefits of each for me, in the short and long term?
- What action is going to help me to live the kind of life I want to live?
- The last question “What is going to help me live the kind of life I want to live?” is important in that it helps focus on what is important for your well being. It can acts as a kind of compass for our life.
- Is there someone who has my interests at heart who can help me work this through? If you can’t talk with them right now, what do you imagine they might invite you to consider in giving you good counsel?