When People Refuse To Choose Sides

It seems that so many people, even professing Christians find remaining neutral in conflicts to be an admirable quality.  On the surface, it looks decent enough.  The neutral person may listen to both people in a conflict & offer support to them both.  And in some rare situations, this is good.  Usually maintaining a neutral position isn’t fine though.  In fact, Elie Wiesel, who survived three Nazi death camps & spent his life honoring & speaking for victims of the Holocaust, mentioned this topic.  He received a Nobel Peace Prize for his work, & during his acceptance speech said many wonderful things.  One part of the speech says, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere.”

Consider being friends with a couple who is getting a divorce.  They are doing so because prior to getting married, they failed to consider some important issues, such as whether or not to have children.  Now that they’re married, they can’t reach an agreement, & have decided it’s best to go their separate ways.  Their divorce is amicable.  Both parties in this situation deserve support because neither is wrong.  They are doing what they think is best for them under the circumstances.

Consider a different angle on this situation.  Instead of the divorce being based on innocent & naïve mistakes on both their parts, imagine one person is abusing the other.  That person is not only unfaithful, but verbally abusive, has ruined the other’s credit, stolen money, isolated them from the people who love them & more.  Then as the icing on the cake, rather than simply walking away, that person fights the divorce, or maybe even tries to take the innocent spouse for whatever money & possessions they have left.  Would you give this abusive, awful person the same compassion & respect as their innocent victim?  I would certainly hope not. 

Yet, people in such situations support abusers like this all of the time.  They don’t do this by openly encouraging the abuser to hurt the victim, but by claiming to remain neutral. 

People who want to remain neutral support abusers by not calling out their bad behavior, even going so far as to protect them from the natural consequences they should receive.  These people may lie to other people to make the abusers look good, even law enforcement.  This behavior shows abusers that they can do whatever they please without fear of repercussions & with unwavering support.  Basically it gives abusers a free pass to abuse whoever in any ways they would like.

These neutral people also tell victims that they don’t want to hear them talk about their abuser because “they won’t take sides”.  They minimize the victim’s pain & deprive them of much needed help & emotional support by remaining neutral.  Victims in this type of situation can be very vulnerable after experiencing so much trauma, & being treated this way affects them very negatively.  Some even become so ashamed of being traumatized that they resume toxic relationships.   Most learn quickly to stop discussing their pain, forcing their emotions deep down inside & avoid dealing with them in a healthy way so those painful emotions manifest in terribly unhealthy ways such as self harm, depression, even suicide.

On a larger scale, being neutral allows all kinds of terrible things to happen in society.  People truly need to be held accountable for bad behavior so they learn not to continue behaving that way.  While most narcissists won’t learn, at least holding them accountable shows them that not everyone is going to tolerate their abuse silently.  Even if their victim doesn’t stand up to them, if someone else does, that still gives them that valuable lesson.  It also shows their victim that someone cares for them, which can be an invaluable lesson to someone who has been told repeatedly they are unworthy of love by a narcissist.

The next time you are in a position of having the choice of remaining neutral or speaking up for victims, then please choose to speak up!  Don’t be stuck feeling like you’re caught in the middle.  You aren’t, no matter who the abuser is!  Make a choice & stand by it! 

9 Comments

Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

9 responses to “When People Refuse To Choose Sides

  1. I definitely agree, Cynthia. The Elie Wiesel quote is so true. Neutrality helps the oppressor.

    And then there are the people who actually blame the victim. When I called the police for help, because my first husband was beating me while I was pregnant, the police officer who answered the phone actually asked me “What did you do to provoke him?” That was the attitude, more often than not, in the 1970s.

    When I told my narcissistic momster about my husband beating me, she said “Something about you just brings out the worst in people!” Her attitude hurt as bad as the physical abuse, if not more.

    There is No Excuse for Abuse.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. martijwis

    It seems like decent, non-cruel (I think the word “kind” has been trivialized/co-opted by actual cruel people so I don’t use the term much) people “travel” alone or w/ smaller groups of very carefully selected individuals. I think “pack mentality” so often enters in w/ random “clique, club, clan, and cabal” , aka 4C, members we so often meet in our daily lives. “Bystanders” who “won’t choose sides”, like you state, HAVE chosen sides–the abuser with whom they often share a 4C connection like civic club, drinking buddy-ship, church, school group, church group, customer/sales relationship . They may NOT like or approve of what the abuser does/says but these deceitful “neutrals” are narcissistic themselves. They do NOT want to bring out the abuse upon themselves by taking your righteous side. They fear not only the abuser themselves but also the “clique, club, clan, and/or cabal” the abuser belongs to. I avoid people who are excessively “networked” w/ others for their prestige , image, or business gains. If excessive ego/greed/attention “needs” are in people, I know that they’d be the kind of “friend” who would pull the “neutral” card to save their own “image” and would abandon our “friendship” in a heartbeat. These bystanders, flying monkeys, cowards, silent partners we all know can be recognized by us earlier as we mature but they are hard lessons learned. Thank you, Cynthia, for your brilliant words, yet again, on this aspect of the problems re: narcissist people and their “phony ‘good people'” loyalists.

    Liked by 1 person

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