I have time to kill before I have to leave and make my way to my doctor (still suffering with the bronchitis… :() to see if there are any other steps to relieve me of this cough! It has been making me very anti-social (even more than usual) and I am suffering pool withdrawal because of it! However, I thought this would be a good time to address a topic that has merit here at DumbOptimist. I am much more fluent in the written word than with verbal speech.
As I have written previously, I am blessed. Blessed in the sense that I have made it to my mid-twenties with no recollection of ever being physically or sexually harassed or assaulted. I have been blessed, and truthfully, lucky. As I write this, there are people: men, women and gender neutral humans in this world who are being physically, mentally, or verbally assaulted and abused as this post is being written. And that thought is one that has me crying on the inside and fighting tears on the outside. Because I have been lucky up to this point, doesn’t mean I will continue to be lucky.
This isn’t where I am going to haul out statistics on the matter. The stats are a Google Search away if you want to find them out. However, the stats are staggering, and this abuse is caused by people. Other humans. Humans who bleed and pump blood the same as the rest of us. There is no stereotype where these humans can be boxed into. It’s not just the criminals or that person who talks a certain way and dresses in the scumbag clothing.
They can be that person standing next to you at the supermarket. That person who is smiling and oozing charisma throughout the room. That person who is so beautiful that it makes your eyes burn. That person who just seems too perfect. What I’m trying to say, an abuser isn’t someone who can be pinpointed out of a crowd. They are not always the obvious. Some are good at hiding their abuse.
The scary part? There are some who are oblivious to the fact that they are being abusive or physically or harming another.
What’s even more scary? There are those who are aware, and they just don’t care.
This DumbOptimist, perhaps out of naivety, wants to see the best in people. I want to believe that there is good in everyone; perhaps they just truly don’t get that what they are doing or saying is wrong. This again is only my opinion, but there is a vast spectrum of what can be considered abuse. What I would constitute as abuse may not even register on another person’s radar as the same.
My definition of abuse is anything that can be used against someone to make them appear inferior in the abuser’s eyes. Anything that can make the victim feel scared or angry. It generates the feeling that compliance or keeping quiet will be the only way that the abuse will stop or go away.
This is why this blog entry is titled “SPEAK!” Take that power away from the abuser! Speak up! Do what you are able to strip the abuser of the power they feel they possess. Take away their control.
Yes, it is easy for me to say. As I led in this post with, I have been lucky. The closest thing I have experienced to this was teasing when I was a child. And I learned to fight back. Once those that teased me realized that they could no longer get the expected response from me they stopped. It wasn’t fun to them anymore.
The obvious abuse that people think of is physical abuse; physical or sexual violence towards another. Someone being physically beaten, molested, raped. Pain that is inflicted on the body. Because of bruises, bumps, and testing, this is the easiest to be confirmed (when believed).
Verbal and mental abuse and harassment also comes into play. However, this harassment is harder to actually confirm. It’s really a question of what was said rather than what was done. Unless conversations are being recorded, no one really knows what is being said. Words can also be misinterpreted as well. This is where the abuser can possibly be oblivious to what is actually happening around them and what it actually all means.
The victim may not even realize that this is harassment. Perhaps the victim thinks that the comments are jokes and it doesn’t even effect them. Perhaps these verbal phrases have become such commonplace that it isn’t categorized as harassment but rather normalcy. For the victim, it really depends on interpretation. When people make negative comments on someone’s appearance, for example, this can be interpreted as either a joke or words that can hurt someone’s feelings. If this action is repeated continuously, then this can become not just a negative comment, but more so a negative attack on a person’s psyche.
To those that allow the negative comments to roll off your backs, you have a strong skin. If this works for you to stop the negativity, good on you! However, what are you doing to stop this negativity from being inflicted on others? They may not affect you, but same words can be like prongs piercing through the heart of someone else.
To those who the negative comments affect, you are not alone. You also do not deserve to feel inadequate. You are an AWESOME human. If you allow this to continue the abuse will continue not only towards you, but towards others as well. I know it’s hard to speak up, but if you don’t the abuse will continue. The person saying these negative thoughts, whether they are aware or not, are hurting you. Let them know. If that doesn’t help, advise who can help stop it from happening to you or anyone else.
To those who have spoken up. You are STRONG! You are AWESOME. I know the outcomes of sharing your stories perhaps have not had the effect you would like, and perhaps the changes that you were hoping for may not have come to fruition, but keep up the fight. Tell who you can so they know that they are not alone and they know that they have others behind them no matter what.
To those who say the negative comments, especially to those who have made it a point that their words have now become abusive comments that bring others down. Why? Do you know better? Do you think you’re joking? How do you really think these people are interpreting what you are saying? If you don’t think you would like what you are saying being said back to you then perhaps it should never have come out of your mouth in the first place! That book that Christians put so much faith into says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Why do you treat others so badly? Do you want to be treated that way? Are you being treated that way from someone who is abusing you and you really, truly, know no other way?
To those that are in witness to the abuse and harassment. I know. It’s tough to know what to do. Do you intervene? Do you mind your own business? What do you do? I wish I knew the answer. From my experience, it’s really on a case by case basis. Do you put your own life in jeopardy for another’s?
Look at it this way. How would you feel if the consequences for not intervening meant that someone was hurt, killed, driven crazy. Especially someone you cared about and loved. How would you feel if it was happening to you and no one came to help you?
That’s why you speak. You stand. You fight. You fight for those who can’t. You fight against those who think they can treat people this way without any repercussions. Again. I’ve been blessed. So with this blessed life, I am using it to speak for those who cannot or will not speak up. I am here. I am trying to make this world a better place for those who come after me.
So that’s it for me!
And PS, the bronchitis is no longer contagious!
Cheers and Stay Smiling (and helping others around you smile too!)