During many instances, it is easier for us to hide our true emotions and say we are doing “well” during times of emotional pain than hide our physical pain. When one thinks of the word abuse, physical abuse may be the first thing they think of. However, there are many different types of abuse that one can go through. This article is definitely not saying that physical abuse is not as bad as emotional abuse, but to show how it is not focused on enough.
Mental and emotional abuse is many times viewed as insignificant compared to physical abuse but is sadly one of the most common forms of abuse. The main difference between emotional and physical abuse is that emotional abuse is harder to determine by outsiders since there is no physical evidence, which makes it hard for social workers and others to determine whether or not children, or anyone, are being abused. Due to this reason, many victims suffer from emotional abuse without the knowledge of others.
Emotional abuse can come in many different forms such as name-calling, patronizing, and manipulation, along with much more. These behaviors can come from the abuser’s insecurities, fairly similar to the idea of the bullied become the bully, but this reason is not the only reason why some may emotionally and verbally abuse another. Many abusers may manipulate the victim by blaming them for what is going on in their own lives or control them so the victim does not know that they are being abused. They can be abusing others for their own inability to cope with their own injuries or their self-entitlement that makes them feel superior. Whether they are aware of it or not, abusers abuse victims for the sake of wanting to control another person. This thirst for power is extremely dangerous and may be caused by different components.
Although abuse can be formed due to mental issues, environmental and cultural factors can also be a factor of abuse. The abuser may have grown up in an environment where they themselves were abused and always believed this was the only way to be in power. They may have been emotionally scarred and tricked into believing that this was the only way to treat a loved one. Although abusers may have received trauma from this, it is not an excuse to act this way.
As well as this, there are many cultures that normalize abuse through genders, usually making men superior in the relationship. This false sense of power shown through traditional norms may be mistaken as normal, which can be detrimental to relationships. According to the World Health Organization, “…Individuals are discouraged from violating norms by the threat of social disapproval or punishment and feelings of guilt and shame that result from the internalization of norms”, meaning that many are usually pressured into conforming to the cultural norms forced onto them and their emotions are eventually kept to themselves.
So how can we change this? There is no promise that emotional abuse will be solved like a simple puzzle, but there are fortunately many tactics that can be used to lessen their likelihood. Going back to the trauma from abuser’s childhoods, it is important to focus on both the abusers and the victims. Counseling for the abuser may be beneficial, although relational counseling between the abuser and the victim is not recommended. Any way to cope with abuser’s and victim’s past pain can help lessen abuse.
Mass media campaigns are targeting the upcoming generations in educating them on their impact on relationships, which can prevent the rise of abuse. Furthermore, cultural norms are being challenged due to new laws and policies that help alter assist in norms linked to violence.
Esther Jung, Grade 11
Grover Cleveland Charter High School