I think that a lot of people are missing some important messages that the “Abuse Cycle” brings up. Namely, that abuse is insidious and often increases in severity over time, abuse is not just physical, and that even strong people like Korra can become victims of it.
I’ve seen people who say that if Mako straight up hit Korra she would dump him. However, that is not what happens in the fanfic. The story takes place a few years after book one and involves a subtle progress of Mako emotionally abusing Korra, which destroys her self-esteem and then eventually results in physical abuse. It’s not like he was the perfect boyfriend to Korra and then one day just punched her in the face out of nowhere. Furthermore, it is true that Korra is a physically strong person. However, I think it is possible that if someone emotionally abused her over time, then it could escalate to what happened in the “Abuse Cycle”. Korra does have a lot of insecurities, namely viewing her worth through her bending abilities. I also got the impression in the season finale that she didn’t view herself as “worthy” as Mako’s love until she got her bending back. Because of this, Mako is the most likely person who could abuse her, especially since Korra believes that they’re soul-mates. It’s hard to end a relationship with someone who you think was “made for you” even if it is a shitty abusive relationship from hell.
The reason I say Mako could abuse her is because obviously that hasn’t happened in canon. Not to mention, abusive relationships probably aren’t something that they could get away with portraying in a Y7 show. Even so, Mako does have some personality traits that could potentially lead to abuse, such as him being a controlling person, that blame-shifting thing he does, and that thing where threatened that Equalist with a fist full of fire in episode nine, just minutes after he snapped at his girlfriend for asking what they should do if Korra wasn’t at the Equalist underground base. However, having these traits doesn’t necessarily mean that Mako will become abusive. It just means that they’re red flags and something that he and other people have to watch out for. The problem is that no one really calls Mako out on his flaws in-universe except for Asami and she might as well have been talking to herself. Not to mention, no one brings up that thing where he threatened the unarmed Equalist guy as being a bad thing. You’d think Tenzin and Lin, being the mature older people would’ve said something to Mako, but they didn’t. In fact, Mako thinks of it as proof that he loves Korra which is something that I find disturbing.
I think that “Abuse Cycle” is a critique on what happens in canon. It basically is a story of what could happen if Mako is never called out on his negative behavior and if Mako keeps thinking that things like what he did to that Equalist are proof of how much he loves someone. Granted it is an extreme interpretation and I understand if people will disagree with the possibility of Mako’s behavior turning into that.
But, that doesn’t mean that a lot of the core messages of the story are invalid. Abuse isn’t just someone beating up on their significant other. Abuse can be emotional or physical or both. Just because someone isn’t hitting you doesn’t mean that they can’t be abusive. Also, abuse doesn’t just happen to people who are “weak”. (Nice job with the victim blaming, people who say that Korra’s not weak enough to be in an abusive relationship.) Even people that we think of as being strong like Korra can fall victim to abuse, depending on who’s doing it and how it’s done. Remember what I said about how it’s hard to leave someone you believe is your “soulmate” even if they are abusive. Not to mention, abuse can be more difficult to escape if someone is emotionally abused and has his/her self-esteem dismantled and begins to develop a co-dependency with the abuser. I think another thing worth noting was that there were a lot of people in “Abuse Cycle” who thought that something was off with Mako and Korra’s relationship but didn’t know what to do about it. That part is incredibly complicated and more difficult to interpret, but I read it as if you notice things like that, you should speak up and do so in an environment where the person being abused is separated from his/her abuser. In the story, it seemed like Korra was going to confide in her problems to Katara and have a chance to escape the abuse, but then Mako burst in on the conversation. Even if someone wants to get out of a relationship like that, it is a difficult thing to do, especially when they don’t think they can talk to anyone about it without their abuser overhearing.
One other thing: If you are sending personal attacks and hate messages to the person who wrote this story, then screw you. Critique the fanfic all you want. In fact, critique is a good thing. But if all you’re doing is sending personal attacks to the person who wrote this story, then you suck.