What is abuse culture?

Abuse culture is the framework of violence that we live in, and includes rape culture. It permeates and colors every aspect of our world, culture, dynamics, institutions, language and interactions. It dictates how we understand, speak about, and name abuse, harm, hurt, assault, violence and trauma, or more accurately how we don’t. It is at the heart of white supremacy, classism, patriarchy, rape culture, capitalism, ableism and stigma against disabled and neuroatypical folks, heterocentricism and homophobia, ciscentrism and transphobia, and so much more.

Abuse culture is why -isms are more than just disliking, disagreeing or being ignorant of people “different from you”: -isms are specifically weaponized by abuse culture, which creates the top/down dynamic that thus allows for discrimination and abuse. It deems certain people, certain bodies as stronger, superior and more right than others, and more justified in whatever recourse or actions they might take. Opposite, it undermines other bodies and sees them as weaker, lesser than, and more deserving of what happens to them, especially at the hands of those with power over them.

Abuse culture belittles and gaslights the lives and experiences of marginalized communities, deems them less reliable resources, ostracizes them from avenues and resources that would otherwise empower them and reduce their chances of being abused, and permits for abuses at the hands of those with power over them to happen, with everyone, including victims/survivors, excusing or apologizing for the abuse, if they even understand or acknowledge it at all.

The language and tactics of abusers on an interpersonal level mirror and mimic the language and tactic of white supremacy at large. The way we excuse police abusing Black and Indigenous people and rapists sound the same because they are both a part of abuse culture. They use ableism to reduce the credibility of victims, especially those who are disabled or neuroatypical. I could go on: Abuse culture is intersectional.

Abuse culture manifests on the macro and micro-level, interpersonally and institutionally. Abuse culture is a part of and enabled by, not a solution to, mass incarceration and the police state.


Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com

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