An abuser’s version of events

The State justifies its actions by claiming they have been left with no other choice but repression

Without wishing to make light of the terrible suffering surrounding domestic violence, I would like to point out certain parallels between the attitude of the Spanish authorities towards Catalonia and the way abusers behave towards their victims. I will try to highlight the similarities between the two in reference to some stock phrases which the abuser typically employs to justify such behaviour.

“THINGS WERE GOING SO WELL BETWEEN US". The first line of defence of an abuser is to accuse the victim for the relationship having turned sour. First, they create the fiction of an idyllic past that has been spoilt on a whim. In our case, the Spanish media apparatus speaks of the Independence Process as a spontaneous occurrence, with no connection to earlier events. As if the conflicts of the twentieth-century (and those that came earlier) were an accumulation of falsehoods generated by twisted historians, as if the list of grievances that led to calls for a new Statute had vanished, as if the overturning of the Statute was a false detonator that led to the uprising of an infantilised population. Once such a narrative has been established, the victim becomes guilty of being frivolous and, naturally enough, of playing the victim.

“YOU MADE ME DOT IT". Just like the spouse who takes advantage of their dominant position, the State and its media wing justify their actions by claiming they have been left with no other choice but repression. As Rajoy said, "Don’t make me do what I don’t want to". The unprecedented acts of police brutality which took place on 1 October were egged on by the passionate chants of "Let ‘em have it" and, finally, proud acceptance of such actions, based on the premise that "the state has a right to defend itself", though on the day in question, "defence" consisted of beating helpless members of the public. The absurd extremes of such self-justification can be found in the proposal from Ciudadanos to award medals to the police officers responsible for this outrage. The thousand individuals who were injured have yet to receive a single word of consolation or respect. The message is clear: they were asking for it.

"YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF". The abuser seeks to impose their will, not only by coercing the victim, but also by undermining their self-esteem. Spain has tried to ridicule Catalan identity in all its forms, starting with the language, and continuing with the independence movement’s lack of success in transforming its democratic majority into a tangible political reality. Stereotypes abound: the Catalans don’t know how to conduct politics, they go weak at the knees, they are only interested in money (anti-semitism "Made in Spain"), and so on. Every time we come up against the strength of the State we are faced with mockery, rather than empathy. Even the absence of violence is seen as a lack of courage.

"YOU’RE UPSETTING THE CHILDREN", is what an abusive husband will tell his victim in a form of emotional blackmail. Secessionists had always accepted their minority status and now it seems as if its growth is the cause of a "rupture", an "emotional tear" that has caused businesses to flee and a drop off in tourism. But who is doing the tearing? It is the PP government that has drained the Catalans of their taxes, dissolved Parliament, imprisoned the Catalan government, challenged its laws, filled the streets with police blinded by hatred, encouraged businesses to flee and tolerated the violence by the far right.

But the abuser’s version of events —driven by what Francesc Serés calls state journalism— remains immutable.

The abusive spouse has the ability to make others believe that the feelings of victimization is just an act, resulting in the victim ending up blaming themselves, telling themselves they must have been exaggerating, that maybe the violence of which they are on the receiving end is a result of their own unstable character. And if they can only admit it, maybe the husband won’t beat them that day. Whatever they do, however, the abuser won’t thank them for the gesture. They’ll even make fun of such weakness. And this is the stage we are at now, with politicians who are either "too scared to show their face", such as Puigdemont, or those who "sing like a canary", like Forcadell before the judge, who threatened her with prison without bail for having allowed Parliament to go about its parliamentary business.

And the false victims are sent to jail, handcuffed in a van, with the Spanish national anthem playing on repeat. You see what you make us do?