My long time mentor, Terry Real, was speaking about world violence one day and stated that over 90% of the violence in the world, he believes, is the result of someone “offending from the victim position”. Offending from the victim position is when a person acts on the notion that retaliation is justified. For example, “You yelled at me, now I have every right to yell, scream and rage at you.”
I left that workshop with this notion stirring in my head for many days. I could see it played out in so many scenarios: gang shootings, the horrors of 911, domestic violence, wars. If retaliation is justified then where does it end? If you yell at me, then I can yell at you, then you can scream at me, then I can rage at you, then … what? It doesn’t end. You end up with two people abusing each other “justifiably” while little children watch and learn.
The idea that retaliation is justified, is not only absurd, it is dangerous. Offending from the victim position is…Offensive! It is abusive and it is never justified. You can try to rationalize, justify or explain it away, but the truth is you are using another person’s unacceptable behavior as an excuse for you to behave unacceptably – there is no excuse for that. Your job is for you to do the best you can to work your part in this relationship – regardless of what your partner does. If they are acting irresponsibly or abusively, then decide what you are going to do and commit to not allowing their inexcusable behavior to justify yours.
Challenge: Pay attention to how, when and if you retaliate. Make a decision to act with integrity on your end regardless of what your partner is or is not doing on theirs. Address your partner’s behavior directly and respectfully and don’t give yourself permission to do otherwise.