There are different forms of abuse. One form relates to the misuse of something or someone, to the point that the abuser is overstepping the boundaries and, therefore, taking more than they should. Another is when one party treats another party with regular cruelty, and even violence. This type of abuse may show up in the realm of mental, physical and emotional. In general terms it can be said that abuse, in all cases, is a demonstration of the improper and irreverent treatment through misconduct towards another living thing, system or object. A severe ‘lack of respect’ comes to mind.
It exists when there is excessive use, overbearing treatment or an ill intention that can create a corrupt practice or custom which repeats itself with the explicit purpose of hurting someone. It usually occurs without an expiry date, but becomes more prevalent as time goes by. This article unpacks the complex nature of abuse towards another human being. However, its complexities do not make abuse a welcomed human behaviour.
We shall display some true-life situations that will highlight why abuse has become a subject worthy of going under the microscope. Firstly, consider a husband whose wife just came out of hospital after having an operation on her heart to fix a valve. She is at home, convalescing. Her husband asks her a question, to which her foggy mind responds something her husband could not comprehend. He snaps! He starts shouting at her. In her disoriented state she feels numbed to what he is saying. He yells at her, swearing a barrage of obscenities. “You idiot! You’re a dumb shit! The doctors operated on the wrong organ. It’s your brain they should have cut open!” he continues. Unabashed, uncontrolled and unrepentant… A true story.
This form of cruelty should have been repelled but it often happens when you least expect it. A technique you can add to your self-esteem toolbox is the art of questioning. Rather than try answering an abuser’s unreasonable questions, try answering their questions – with yet another question. Let’s listen to that husband again, but this time present him with a barrier… a block to his blow. For example, “You idiot! You’re a dumb shit! The doctors operated on the wrong organ. It’s your brain they should have cut open!” To which the wife could have responded with, “Why are you being so cruel? Do you think this is the right behaviour for a husband who should be nurturing his wife after coming out of hospital?”
Part of the reason why an abuser becomes empowered to continue their disrespectful behaviour is because the person on the receiving end may have a low self-esteem, therefore lacking assertiveness. Quietly answering a question with another question, while remaining composed and in a state of controlled emotions, can often disempower the bully. It could literally turn the tables around. Be mindful here, that when you use this technique remain silent, waiting for their answer. No matter how long it takes. Uncomfortable as it may feel, the first one to speak – loses. Remember to remain calm. Silent.
When you speak, make sure your firstly fill your lungs with air to give your words more timbre, adding to the character or quality of your voice. This makes you sound more ‘sure’ of yourself. Always speak on the out-breath with lungs full of air. You don’t have to speak straight away. Pausing (while you take a breath) can also be an effective needle for pricking the bully’s balloon.