Adrien Agreste as a victim of abuse
First of all, of course, trigger warnings: do NOT resume if you are sensible to the topics discussed. I will be referring to abuse and mentioning suicide/suicidal ideation.
Second, don't expect this to be an amazing analysis because I'm dead tired from work and also I'm just bad with wording and organizing in general. Lastly... Some of this might not have concrete evidence and might just be deduced/theorized.
Do not come at me with that sentimonster theory. This is on abuse (and Adrien relating to it).
THIS IS LONG, so... Yeah.
Let's start with some basic things.
Types of abuse
There's quite a few types of abuse. This comes down to physical abuse, psychological abuse (emotional abuse, gaslighting, brainwashing which I'll discuss later), sexual abuse, financial abuse, neglect.
I will leave psychological abuse for last because there's just... too much about it.
The first thing that comes to mind is CHAT BLANC. It's unacceptable and inexcusable, it does not matter if he were protected by his suit.
All matters is he knew that was his son and struck him, hard. Really, really hard. Twice. HE KNEW THAT WAS HIS SON, there was no more "He didn't know".
He knowingly provoked physical harm (among other harm, but I'm on the subject of physical abuse here) to his teenaged, fragile son.
*THEORY: Were Emilie and Gabriel ever the striking type of parent? Hitting their child into submission? While it certainly wouldn't top bursting him through the ceiling and smacking him by the Eiffel Tower, I feel like it is possible. Maybe more sparcely so, so that they can maintain that they're not that bad.
Yes, I claim Emilie was awful too.
That is all I will mark on this one. I know he has been in physical danger before, but I feel like that fits more into neglect (but correct me if I’m wrong).
While Gabriel has never abused him sexually nor put him in a situation where he would necessarily be sexually abused, he might have indirectly caused at least some harrassment. Take this with a grain of salt, as this is just me theorizing.
They made him into a child star. So many celebrities suffer with their privacy violated, disrespectful fans, reporters, paparazzi, etc. Are you going to tell me there wasn't a single time where someone might have tried something inappropriate? I can't wrap my head around that.
So this is basically what I mean. Gabriel hasn't caused direct sexual abuse, but he might have indirectly brought it upon his son by the life path he picked for him.
Again, I don't really have much of a leg to stand on, this is mostly theorizing.
Look. The boy has a massive house. His own room is 3 times my whole apartment. He has a lot of games, music, technology, etc. But how much of it is just Gabriel throwing material stuff at him?
I feel like Gabriel would be very suspicious with the money. Even though it's Adrien's earned money as a model, I feel like Gabriel has way more control over it than we know. We know Gabriel likes to control, so why wouldn't he control his income? Probably masking it as a considerate help, when in fact it's just to keep him in place.
Imagine Adrien one day just had enough, he decided to run away. Do you think Gabriel would allow him the resources to survive without him? He is abusive and he will use his power imbalance to his advantage. Of course, there might be friends to help him out with things, but still, this is at the very least a last ditch effort to make him come back. Because Adrien has to depend on him.
One of the two most present types in the Agreste family is,
He just doesn't care.
He doesn't talk to his son. When he does, he doesn't even look at him. He's lucky if he's even facing him. He doesn't eat with his son. When he schedules meals with him, he doesn't come. He doesn't come to important things for him, he doesn't share in his enthusiasm, he doesn't even try to look interested.
He speaks monotonously, he sounds bored.
And here's why I didn't put his physical danger as example in physical abuse — because it's neglect. He doesn't know it could get his son it danger, but it might. It could even kill him, but he does it anyway. He does not care.
In GORIZILLA, he did know it's Adrien, but he did not expect him to jump off a damn building. However, he shouldn't have tried his stunt in the first place. He just didn't care.
In fact, he even ran off in the first place because Gabriel just didn't care enough to even listen to a simple question.
Now let's get to the big bad guy.
Honestly, I don't even know where to start or how to finish. This is such a big element of his abuse and I just hope I won't ramble too much.
This is bad. Now you don't have to agree with me, but I'll even go to the length of calling him brainwashed. Because, Emilie did play a part in it. I don't have definitive proof of it, but I have a really strong feeling she did. There's just hints and pieces scattered throughout the series.
Okay... So where do I even begin with this?
Perfection. His son must be perfect. He's carrying that weight on his shoulders everyday.
Giving him a packed schedule so that, while he's somewhat permitted fun, he doesn't have time for it. Great one, Gabriel. That ought to play a number on someone's head.
Lying is big on the scale, we know lying is big in his family (hence his problems from that). Lies about his past, lies about his mother, lies about Nathalie, lies about [Gabriel] himself, maybe even lies about Adrien. Secrets all over, the secret lair, his supposedly dead mother who they seemingly never stopped grieving actually hidden away down low in their home.
Broken promises. Promising something, then taking it away for no reason. (Take CAPTAIN HARDROCK. I know he let him out in the end, but it was still awful to do that to him)
He's not worth knowing anything, even when it's his business. He's not worth the truth. I understand how lies and secrets can become such a touchy subject for him, when his remaining family doesn't care enough to even provide him with the truth or some explanation. Granted, the truth is so heavy, but.. then again, they did it to themselves.
Invalidating his feelings, criticizing him, discouraging him. Saying that he's had enough emotions, that he's overly sensible. That invalidates his feelings, making him feel unimportant, that his feelings don't matter or maybe that he is actually exagerated to think a certain way.
Criticism kinda bundles with the whole perfection thing. He criticizes his every little mistake. In the above example with CAPTAIN HARDROCK, he broke his promise because he mistapped one note on the piano.
One singular note.
And keep in mind that while he was practising, Gabriel sat facing him, almost as if to make sure he knows he's being watched, that he knows he sees and observes everything, as if to make him even more nervous.
Gabriel wants to dominate his parental relationship with fear. That Adrien should know that his word goes, that anything less is not enough. It's even show in the way he addresses his father.
(French - VOUS used as a formal/polite pronoun that is used for authority, your elders or strangers, certainly not family)
(French - PÈRE, meaning father. More informally, he could use papa, meaning dad.
However, when referring to Emilie, he uses maman. I still believe she was bad too though and he was sort of programmed to see her in a good light.)
Furthermore, in THE COLLECTOR, Gabriel purposely made chaos and akumatized himself with the full intent of making Adrien scared and guilty, that he's the reason his father is suffering. That is messed up on all levels.
Just the mental torture of going through that. That is a whole different level of guilt tripping.
Speaking of guilt tripping, he already guilt tripped him in that same episode with that damned book. While at the same time threatening his livelihood/freedom because of a simple mistake that adults can make, let alone teenagers.
School is like his little key to the cage, twirling it around everytime he misbehaves. He knows he can count on just taking him out of school if he doesn't obey. The thing he cherishes most, the thing he fought so hard to achieve, to finally get, what he wished for... It just doesn't matter for Gabriel.
If something bad happen, he can just blame it on his son again. Take SANTA CLAWS. He neglected him, as usual. He ran off and was awfully depressed. When he came back, he was blamed for not being there when his father finally decided to move his ass and try something for a change.
Or NEW YORK, where he practically dragged his son to NY to then blame him for coming. And you know what's sadder? That he actually took that. He said that his father is right, coming here wasn't a good idea (or however that was phrased). As if he is to blame. As if it was solely his decision, his dumb idea, and that his father was just a happy lil parent just doing what his child wishes. It's awful.
We've already established that Gabriel just doesn't care how he torments his own son as long as he gets what he wants, but we've seen best how diabolical that truly is in CHAT BLANC, again.
Firstly he plotted to break him up from his girlfriend, the one and only little joy in his life, only to akumatize her. He made her suffer, and he made his own son suffer, full on sobbing to his bodyguard to let him go after her.
(Which he did... The one person in this household who actually cares)
He found out then that he is Chat Noir. So...?
He reveals everything to him in the midst of the fight. So unexpected, so shocking, so devastating. Adrien was so furious that he ran at him to cataclysm him, but he couldn't; he stopped right before.
And you know what? Gabriel knew he wouldn't do it. He didn't even flinch. Instead he proceeded to use this moment of vulnerability to abuse him physically, only to add to his already skyrocketing stress levels.
While he cowers away in fear, Gabriel has the guts to say that if she loved him, she'd let him save his mother. The absolute manipulation, the mental gymnastics. Trying to make it sound as if he is trying to be the good guy and she is the bad one standing in his way to happiness when it's in fact all him.
And all of this... All of this torment, just so that his mind is so broken, that he's so devastated, so ruined that he can't resist akumatization. It's despicable.
Let that sink in. He took advantage of his son's already weak mental state that was caused by him in the first place to aid in his mission to achieve the two jewels. He revealed everything suddenly, in the worst way, he struck him, he mentally tormented his son who was begging him to stop, to just be left alone.
I'll tell you, that isn't the request of someone who has it together. That is his mind telling him basically "WE HAVE TO LEAVE, FAST", "WE'RE IN DANGER". He wants to not deal with it, he wants to escape, he wants to flee. It's to that broken state that his own father has brought him.
But his father didn't care. He used it to akumatize him. He tried to make his son murder his own girlfriend with his now uncontrollable powers, further enforcing his influence by telling him to obey like he was just his mindless puppet.
He even pointed his power at his father at one point. His emotions are so mixed up, his mind is so upside down right now. He loves his father, he fears his father, he despises his father with his whole being that part of him would want to kill him off, but again, he loves his father and cares about him, so he doesn't. Contradictory emotions all in one place driving him crazy.
In the end, he decides to try and kill himself.
He directs the powerful, uncontrollable cataclysm on himself. This is the end. There's no way he'll kill Ladybug. There's no way he'll kill his father either. Remember that he was broken down at this point and his instinct was to flee. This was the solution to him.
If he died, then it would just end.
But he didn't. Instead, he managed to kill everyone off... But himself. How tragic is that? And all of that because of his own father.
That version of himself was erased once Ladybug fixed it. But I can't help and think at times how that Adrien never got his happy ending. He was abused his whole life, his own father broke him down and ended up murdering everyone and everything he loved, leaving him all alone in a quiet world, no sound, no emotion, no nothing.
He was deakumatized, only to find out that Ladybug will leave him. He understands, but I can't imagine how painful that is. Waking up from your craze to find out this is basically the end. This was your story. At least that universe's version of your story. You never got happiness. It just ended.
I know I talk a lot about CHAT BLANC. That episode did a real number on me and no matter how many times I watch it, I still get emotional about it. It's tough to watch, honestly.
Objectifying is another thing. Adrien just seems like a trophy. He treats him like a trophy. Even to Ladybug, he brags about how perfect he is... Yet, he never compliments him to his face. Why is that? Yeah, Gabriel is proud of Adrien... In the same way I'd be proud winning a medal in some competition or whatever.
That on top of him being his model, using him for his ads, even hiding the truth behind what those ads are even for... He is a trophy, a marketing strategy, a brand image.
Then comes the whole mess of micromanaging every aspect of his life... It's just suffocating.
But why does Adrien keep loving his father is he's so abusive?
It's ...complicated. Gabriel has shown moments of love. Moments of care. And that's what Adrien craves. Often times, it's these moments that make victims question their beliefs.
Yeah, maybe he did do that or say that, but look, he's given me attention. He hugged me. He watched a movie with me. He spoke sincerely (not really) with me. That has to mean something, right?
It's a cycle that drives him crazy and makes him stay. It makes him confused, this rollercoaster. Deep down, he's aware of how his father is, but he keeps forgetting. His father makes him depressed, but yet craves his validation and love. He's so shocked and so pleased when he gets it. Maybe if he tries better, he'll get more. Just maybe, if he's better. If he's better than perfect, perhaps then it will work.
There's just so much more I could add but it's already late. Feel free to add though if I missed key elements or if there's anything of interest you'd like to point out, because I'm sure I missed a lot. I'm trying my best.
Well... Now that we've done all that, let's get to what's even scarier.
And this is where Emilie comes into play too. We don't know much about her, but I'll throw hands if all of this just foreshadows nothing.
Adrien only started going to school when she passed. Him and his father never stop mourning her, even when she's been gone for so long. Granted, I don't blame him since his house is covered in depressing photos of him, but this seems much more than it. It's strange.
He idealizes her, remembers her fondly, remembers her almost like too good of a person despite the fact that, ironically, he has more freedom now than he had with her.
In Wishmaker, we discovered that Adrien basically has no identity of his own and has never had his own dream. His dream was always to be what his parents wanted him to be. Isn't that eerie? Like they conditioned him, brainwashed him all his life to be their puppet, to know that they know best, especially Emilie. To know that she's everything he needs, that he's content with just that, and made him believe so.
And this image is so off. There's no way this is a mistake.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, Emilie and Gabriel's eye colors are switched around. It's such a small detail that makes up for such a big thing. What does it mean?
Does it mean that Adrien's memories are played with? That what he remembers is not the truth? If so, then it makes the whole brainwashing idea so much more real and so much more terrifying. To think that his parents (Emilie included) would twist him so much that even his memory is incorrect. He can't even count on his own recollection of events.
They made him a shell. He lives, but he's a nobody.
Everything is programmed, conditioned, manipulated, twisted, broken down and jumbled together. It doesn't make any sense, but it does in his mind. That's all he knows. Or at least all he knew until he was finally allowed out.
How does all of this affect Adrien?
In way too many ways to describe, but I'll try to keep it short.
Because he's been isolated and conditioned all his life, he has no clue how the real world works. It also makes him a people pleaser, and someone who lets people step all over him. It makes him want to overcompensate as Chat Noir, because he can't as Adrien.
Chat Noir is his escape. It's when he gets to be free, and gets to be with Ladybug.
While his crush it's endearing, I do believe I can attach some dose of mental illness on his selection. She was his first real friend. One he could be truly himself with... Or, his most outgoing self. He's had trust between them in the past, he felt accepted, he felt loved. We know he gets so little of that, so he ends up putting her on a pedestal. While it might sound exagerated to others, I do believe his words in HACK-SAN that he wouldn't be able to bear losing her. To him, it's like a lifeline.
It's what gives color to his life. Because, without her, his life is grey. It's not worth living. It's depressing, but it's true. For someone so optimistic, he bottles up so much and ends up being incredibly depressed (to being borderline suicidal).
Another consequence of his abuse was the fact in itself that he can't express himself. If he does, he explodes, or comes across differently. Besides, he's a people pleaser. He doesn't want to upset others. He doesn't want others to hate him, to dismiss him, to forget him. He wants to feel important to somebody. He wants to know his existence has a meaning. That he's not just a parasite on this world.
More consequence: explosive anger. He's usually collected, but when he isn't... Damn. That anger isn't healthy. It consumes him. He doesn't talk about it, he doesn't exteriorize it, and breaking a wall sure as hell won't help him in the long run.
The way his hand trembled on his staff, the way he just smashed that wall into nothing. It was all just impulse. And this is something he sees in the household too. He knows his father is impulsive. Children do subconsciously mimic what they see, it's how they learn to traverse life. But how does he traverse life when everything he learns is upside down?
Letting people step all over him: We've seen it time and again. The first example that comes to mind is Chloe. When did he first give her that ultimatum?
DESPAIR BEAR, season 2. A whole season of him just allowing her to make him uncomfortable and be stepped on.
But did he hold on that ultimatum? No. He was too soft to do it. He finally enforced it, but only in season 4. And who knows if it will actually stay this time? Adrien is easily swayed.
As a consequence, Adrien also hates lies and secrets. Granted, everyone would feel a little off if there was so little communication, but there's more to him. Everyone lies to him. It's almost like they don't care about him, like she doesn't care about him when she lies so much, when she hides so much from him. Their relationship are at a breaking point, where their miscommunication is going to cause... I'm not sure what, but not something good either way.
Let's get to the worst of it, honestly. Suicidal ideation. Am I going too far with that? I don't know, but not in my eyes. Maybe he doesn't go out with the thought of killing himself, but you know what? Adrien is an impulsive person. He doesn't need to think. It's his feeling. The feeling that he has to go down, to die. A lot of people are reckless when they're suicidal. They'll get themselves in unnecessary danger, risking their lives. And while a lot of it was to protect Ladybug, there was also times where there was really no reason.
The most worrying ones are GUILT TRIP and CHAT BLANC (yes, again). CHAT BLANC, we talked about it; he brought the power on himself with the full intent of ending himself.
In GUILT TRIP, while yes, he was affected by Guilt Trip's power, none of his friends jumped to suicide from this. There has to be something seriously wrong for him to make that leap.
As the sentimonster played with his fragile mind, it all became clear: he should just end himself. I firmly believe that's what he was trying to do. And again, he's the only one who leapt from negative thoughts to suicide. That's not a leap everyone makes.
At this point, his smile always seems so fabricated and forced too. It’s like he’s a doll.
In conclusion, our boy needs therapy asap. His father to be imprisoned, and him to find happiness some way. To learn to trust, to learn to love himself before he loves others. To learn to color his own life. That he is the sunshine in his own life.
God, this was so long. I'm so sorry if I missed things or if I didn't make sense at some points. I really wanted to make this post for some time, but I struggle with wording and expressing my thoughts and organization, so it was difficult. But I always love when I see posts like this, so I hope it will bring a similar feeling.
And please bring your own theories and ideas and observations because I'd love to read more. Adrien is such a complex, layered character and a somewhat dramatic/tragic character. Oof.
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What abusers believe.
If you've ever had to deal with an abusive person in your life - like an abusive parent or partner - you've probably wondered what made them treat you that way. If you understand why abuse is happening, the thinking goes, you might be able to figure out how to make it stop.
So why do abusers do what they do? Do they have anger issues? Drinking problems? Past trauma? Personality disorders? Do they just need to get in touch with their feelings and learn how to communicate better?
Abusive behaviours come from abusive beliefs. Abusers - whether consciously or unconsciously - hold specific beliefs about relationships that drive their behaviour and allow them to justify the horrible things they do. Even if your abuser has never put their beliefs into words, you'll probably recognize a lot of these abusive beliefs:
You are responsible for my emotions. It is never my responsibility to reflect on my emotional reactions or learn better coping skills - it's your responsibility to stop doing things that make me angry or upset.
I must act on my emotions. If I am angry, I am going to lash out. You have no right to criticize me for that, and it's not my responsibility to learn to manage my emotions - you have to stop making me lash out at you. Asking me not to act on my emotions is controlling and wrong.
You will always be responsible for my emotions. Even if the relationship ends, you will continue to be responsible for my emotions, and I will expect you to continue to prioritize my feelings.
If I have feelings about something, it's my business. If something you do or think causes an emotional reaction in me, then I have a right to get involved or tell you what to do. My feelings must be the priority. You don’t have the right to tell me that it’s none of my business.
You must judge me on my intentions, not my actions. If I didn't mean to hurt you or scare you, then you don't have the right to be hurt or scared. No one has the right to try to hold me accountable unless I meant to hurt someone.
I get to decide what your intentions were. If you hurt me, you meant to hurt me. If you make me jealous, you meant to make me jealous. Nothing you do is ever accidental or unintended - everything you do is intentional and malicious, even if it was a response to something I did.
My feelings are genuine; your feelings are manipulation. If I'm upset, my feelings are real and important. If you are upset, you have an ulterior motive - you're just trying to be manipulative and get attention or sympathy for yourself.
You have freedoms because I allow you to. Every freedom you have in your life - like wearing what you want - it's because I generously allow it. I expect you to be grateful to me for that. I have the right to take those freedoms away whenever I want, and I expect you to obey.
If you set boundaries with me, you are mistreating me. If you really loved me, you wouldn't set boundaries with me. You are doing this to intentionally hurt me, which means I don't have to respect those boundaries.
You holding me accountable for hurting you is worse than me hurting you. My pain at being called out is worse than your pain at being mistreated. If I feel bad about something I did, I have already been punished enough. You trying to discuss the issue or hold me accountable is just your way of abusing me.
If I apologized for something, you have to forgive me. If the relationship has ended, you have to reconcile with me. You don't get to ask for more time apart or more discussion of the issue - once I've apologized, the matter is closed for good.
The relationship is not over until I say it is over. So long as I want a relationship with you, you must have a relationship with me. Your feelings are irrelevant. Even if we have broken up, you must remain available to me so we can get back together in the future. Not wanting a relationship with me means you are mistreating me or being immature.
I am the authority in this relationship. I am smarter and more perceptive than you. I know what is best for both of us. My version of events is always the correct one. I have superior judgement, taste and opinions. If you question me or disagree with me after I've given you the correct answer, you are disrespecting and mistreating me, or you are simply immature and incapable of knowing what’s good for you.
I have the right to control you. It is my absolute right to decide what you do and who you associate with. You have no right to disobey me. I am owed obedience and control; if you don’t give me those things, you are wronging me and cheating me out of the relationship I deserve.
If you resist my control, I am allowed to do whatever I think is necessary to get it back. Once you’ve resisted me, I am justified in whatever I do to regain control of you. I am not responsible for my actions when you resist my control; you forced me to do it, and it’s your own fault.
I should be your main focus. Everything else in your life comes secondary to me. When you make decisions, my feelings should be your first consideration. You are expected to make sacrifices for me and put me at the center of your life; I am not obligated to do the same for you.
If I spend money on you or do something for you, you are in debt to me. You spending money on me or doing things for me does not erase your debt to me, and I am never in debt to you. You are indebted to me for as long as I decide. I may decide that your belongings and earnings also belong to me, since I allow you to have them. I may also decide at any time that you owe me for gifts I gave you, even if they were meant to be gifts.
I am not abusive, and you are not allowed to tell me otherwise. I know what abuse is, and real abusers are significantly worse than me. If our relationship has ever had any good times or positive moments, it can’t possibly be abusive. If you accuse me of being abusive, you are the one abusing me, or you have been led astray by bad influences.
Relationships should be effortless (for me). I am owed a relationship that is peaceful and requires no real effort from me. It is your job to make sure we have that kind of relationship. If there is any tension or conflict in the relationship, it is your fault, and you are depriving me of the relationship I deserve to have.
Abusers and victims alike often buy into the narrative that abuse is rooted in anger issues - after all, abusers are frequently angry, and anger is an issue that can be treated. But this narrative just isn’t true. Abusers aren’t abusive because they are angry. Abusers are angry because they are abusive.
A non-abusive partner is not someone who has learned how to control their rage whenever you spend time with your friends or get home 15 minutes late from work. A non-abusive partner just doesn’t feel any rage in those situations. An abuser’s rage is firmly rooted in their beliefs about relationships - they feel entitled to a relationship that meets their impossible expectations, and when they inevitably don’t get it, they bubble over with fury. Whether they know it or not, they have firmly entrenched beliefs about how relationships should be, and those beliefs are at the heart of their abuse.
Can abusers stop believing these things? Maybe. If they can acknowledge that they have these beliefs, accept that these beliefs are dangerous and unreasonable and let go of these beliefs, maybe it’s possible for them to no longer be abusive in the future. Maybe. But it’s not your job to hang around and find out. If you’re in an abusive relationship of any kind, you deserve better. There are many people in this world who don’t hold abusive views of relationships, and you deserve to find happiness with them.
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