Kindness and Boundaries


I write regularly about the importance of showing kindness to cult members, so they will know the outside world can be kind. I have written abut having compassion for them as victims of abuse. But I want to be clear, shoeing compassion and kindness does not mean accepting mistreatment.

You are allowed to have boundaries, regardless of what the person next to you is going through. You deserve kindness and compassion too. If someone is violating your boundaries, you’re allowed to avoid them. Social kindness can mean voting for increased social spending,  not necessarily taking people into your own home.

Let me put this another way. Addiction to drugs and alcohol disproportionately impacts adults who survived child abuse. General addiction policy should keep this in mind; therapy is far more likely to give someone the tools they need to get their life on track than jail is. Addiction can be associated with perpetrating abuses, however. Their childhood trauma is sad; it does not justify them abusing you.

I married, and left, an alcoholic. He was dangerous, and he didn’t treat me with the respect and kindness I deserve. While I certainly believe alcohol played a role in his behavior, his behavior was unacceptable. So I didn’t accept it. Wanting better societal understanding of addiction does not have to mean living with an abusive person who has an addiction.

If the Jehovah’s Witness knocking on your door are ruining your Saturday, you don’t have to entertain them. You don’t have to put your needs on hold. A polite yet firm “No thank you, have a nice day” is plenty. But if you can be that polite, if you can use nice words instead of profanity, it’s probably worthwhile.

Cult leaders convince members that the outside world is cruel and mean. In many ways, it is. Having a kinder society in general will make it harder for cult leaders to sell this message, and it will make it easier for abuse victims of all kinds – addicts, cult members, and miserable wives – tools they need to heal and grow.

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