“We are seeing only a small part of the reality.” ~ Unknown
On the surface, it seems trivial to the public. It may look like a seemingly harmless teasing of a child or romantic partner. They are joking about the words they mispronounced and the ridiculous mistakes they made. Insane mistakes such as wearing a shirt backwards, burning something in the oven, or losing a key. A mistake that everyone makes.
Abuse may sound like a judgmental comment that appears to come from a compassionate place. Comments like:
My daughter does not apply herself. She is her lazy, and I hope she cares about her education so she can make something of her own.
For now she likes girls, but I’m confident she will grow up from it because I want to be happy with her and get married and have a family.
I hope he plans and sticks to it, rather than changing jobs every five minutes. He will be very happy.
On the surface, abuse can sound like frustration.
I hope she just picks up after her. It frustrates me that I have to live in a piggery.
She isn’t doing well at school. I’m a teacher, so I’m embarrassed.
He has no time for me. He is very selfish and he only thinks of his work.
Abuse can also sound like a compassionate statement of control.
If she doesn’t go well at school, I’m not going to pay for her cello lessons.
If he doesn’t help around the house, I’m not going to make time for him.
If she doesn’t try to dress properly, why do I make a date night time?
Not all frustrated teasing or comments necessarily mean that someone is being abused. I’m just directing your attention to them and encouraging you to take a closer look.
Victims may give you subtle hints. Here are some tips:
My parents really don’t care what I’m doing. My parents only care if I’m doing well at school, and that’s all.
My partner is happy only when I’m doing something for him.
I don’t get much of my time because my time is selfish.
The victim may show you the emails and texts written by the abuser. In many cases, these emails or texts may look benign or contain subtleties that can easily be overlooked. They may have abusive comments and a few requests in some words, or they may disguise themselves as a message of concern.
From time to time, these messages may be written in a very compelling way. You may find yourself siding with the abuser.
Underneath the blamed comments disguised as teasing, frustration, and compassion, there is a world of abuse that you are not looking for.
Teasing in a closed room turns into putdown and verbal abuse.
You never reach anything.
You are incompetent.
You are lazy.
You are fundamentally a failure.
You can never support yourself.
You are a cigarette
How can you be so stupid?
These harsh words can be accompanied by physical violence, but even by themselves can be devastating.
Compassionate controls that appear on the surface can be an indicator of negligence or financial abuse.
I have money for music lessons, but I’m not going to support you because you aren’t doing what I want to do. I’m not giving you money for shampoo because it doesn’t change the fact that you look ugly.
I’m not going to pay for your educational opportunities because you’re not the person I wanted.
From time to time, you may see victims of abuse like me and wonder why we don’t wear better clothes, have regular haircuts, or take better care of ourselves. Hmm. But in many cases, these simple choices were not within our power.
Victims of abuse often make self-deprecating comments. Comments like:
That wasn’t a big deal.Everyone could do it..
I’m not good at many things..
I can’t do anything right.
Over the years, we have been groomed to put ourselves in place before you do. We internalized the story of abuse until we no longer saw a lack of self-esteem or talent.
Victims of abuse often do not know how to accept compliments and may feel uncomfortable in the spotlight. We have learned to make ourselves smaller and build you up so that we can keep ourselves safe. We have learned that the needs of others are far more important than ourselves, so we downplay the benefits we have given you and the kindness we have shown to you.
We are overly anxious when we make a mistake, when we give an opinion that goes against your opinion, or when we suspect that we have offended you.
We put your needs first and act in an overly positive and pleasing manner. I don’t care where I go or what I eat when I’m with you. I don’t know if I’m tired or cold. We over-focus on you because we know that our needs are not important to everyone.
We have learned to downplay abuse and even deny it, as we have been lit by gas and the reality has been denied many times. We may say the opposite about our abusers, as follows:
My mother loves me She just doesn’t know how to express it.
Yes, that was the annoyance he said, but if I were kind to him or did a better job, he wouldn’t have felt the need to say it.
You may sometimes hear us complaining about how our parents have treated us. You may hear our longing for love and acceptance, but in response you may find yourself saying:
Your mom really loves you.She just wants the best for you..
I know you’re dissatisfied with your dad, but you really should try to forgive him.
You may hear us complaining about our partner, and you may find yourself saying:
You should be grateful for everything they have provided to you and for your family.
I don’t believe you; he or she doesn’t look like the type of person who does that.
We are silent because your comments make us feel invalid.
Abuse has always been in clear sight, but like an iceberg you only saw the tip. Tips that can be easily normalized, rationalized, and rejected.
If you suspect someone has been abused, here are some small steps you can take to protect them:
First, be aware that victims may not know that they are being abused or that they are being treated incorrectly.
In many cases, they deserve to be treated poorly and are groomed to believe that abuse is somehow their fault. If they find themselves being abused, they may not be in a position to do anything about it. Therefore, those denials act as a temporary coping mechanism. The best you can do is treat them with kindness and compassion.
Ask questions that encourage the person to come into contact with their feelings and needs. For example, I noticed that your mother made many negative comments about your abilities. How does this feel? Or, when we went out last night, your partner said some harsh things about your appearance. What did you think about this? Looks thirsty. Do you drink water?
By encouraging them to touch their feelings, you examine their living experience and help them realize that the method they were treated with is not appropriate or healthy. By encouraging them to focus on their needs, you help them prioritize even the slightest amount of self-care. This will help you regain the power you have lost and help you understand that you deserve better treatment.
The simplest compassionate questions help them take small steps to reduce the amount of abuse they are exposed to and ultimately take drastic action to completely remove the abuser from their lives. can do.
If you witness someone being teased or embarrassed during a social event, be sure to tell the criminal that the behavior is neither kind nor appropriate. If the perpetrator does not stop, encourage the victim to walk with you to another location in the room or take a break by participating in another activity.
Do not join the perpetrator to make fun of or criticize the victim, even if you believe that teasing is just for fun.
When you make fun of joining the perpetrators, you engage in benign forms of abuse, strengthening their power and control. You unknowingly teach the practitioner that you are the person you can use against the victim. In addition, you affirm and normalize the victim’s perpetrator’s opinion, making it difficult for the victim to get out of the toxic story and limiting their beliefs.
Never discuss the victim with the perpetrator. Abuses often use people near the victim to persuade them to do something unpleasant. From time to time, these conversations are disguised as concerns about victims, their well-being, or their financial future. If you think it’s being used this way, make it clear that you’re new to this type of conversation. Communicate with them concisely but firmly.
Do not confront the abusers or tell them that their actions are abusive. This may encourage them to urge the victims to separate you from their lives. If you need to call on abusers to act, be specific about why you don’t like their behavior and why it’s not appropriate. If you suspect that the victim is at serious physical risk, contact police, social workers, or a local women’s shelter for expert advice.
Abuses tend to isolate victims in order to maintain control of their lives. Invite them to activities that you both enjoy so that you can spend a fulfilling time together and give them a break from their family life.
If you have friends or family members who cancel your plan shortly before or frequently decline your invitation, they may not have made this choice at their discretion. It is important not to take this personally or keep the victim out of your life. This is what the abuser wants you to do.
Instead, keep calling your friends and invite them to a social event, even if you don’t think you’re going to attend. The less you know that you are in our lives, the less we feel isolated.
Make it clear to your friends and family that you are there whenever you need to discuss it, and remind them often. If you feel comfortable, you can always let us know that you can stay at home, even if you need a safe place. You can also help create a safety plan in case they feel unsafe.
By taking these little steps, you see the abuse below the tip of the iceberg and choose to help your loved one safely make it on the surface.