As a child, I never knew what ‘verbal abuse’ meant. I had seen people perform on stage during ‘theatre plays’, abusing each other ‘for fun’, and people laughed and cheered them on. It was a strange concept for me, as my dad seemed to enjoy the banter and I couldn’t help but wonder…why would people laugh at the mockery and ridiculing of someone else?
It was years later that I finally realized that we were being conditioned to believe that verbal abuse ‘in a comical way’ was okay to tolerate, and that it meant no harm if it was light-hearted humor.
The conditioning that was deep-rooted within us, made us feel ‘at ease’ around friends who would abuse each other ‘to look cool’ and then moved on towards abusing families, mothers, and what not. It was all okay until one friend finally decided that it was enough, and there was no more tolerance for verbal abuse, especially when it started affecting the way he/she felt about himself/herself.
We disregard normal, everyday verbal abuse because of the ‘feeling’ and ‘tone’ attached to it. If it is said in a playful manner, it means the person didn’t mean any harm. However, not everyone is okay with verbal abuse. It is something that affects us all differently, and (mostly) not in a good way.
Either way, in my experience, verbal abuse has always left scars on relationships, because it brings forth the insecurities of a person and takes them back to their deepest, darkest fears. Most of us have been abused in our childhood by our parents or our siblings, to keep us away from trouble, or as a punishment for being ‘bad’. It triggers people and takes them back to the time when they felt guilt for things they did, and felt bad (as a human being) for bringing shame and humiliation to other family members.
When you give consent to someone to verbally abuse you, it makes it okay for them to do it every time they want to. To the point that they might even abuse you in front of others that you don’t know very well, and it may result in shame or humiliation in front of those people, and those people would end up disrespecting you in the midst of it all.
These days, during the lockdown, women all over the world are suffering all sorts of domestic violence, which also includes verbal abuse, as it hits the brain and is a form of mental abuse. In our part of the society, a majority of the women still tolerate all forms of abuse from their spouses, because they are taught to ‘save marriages’ and because ‘they have kids’. They usually (also) don’t have someone to fall back on, which is why most of them suffer silently at the hands of these men.
I have the same feelings of disappointment towards parents who abuse in front of their children, because it creates a vicious cycle. It leaves mental scars on the people being abused (especially kids who end up suppressing those emotions as they cannot talk back to their parents) and later on in life, when they get married, these same children become verbally abusive towards their spouses, and the circle keeps on moving.
Verbal abuse lowers your self-esteem. It makes you think you are not worthy of respect, and it creates feelings of negativity within you. All of this isn’t good for your mental health, and it should NEVER be tolerated.
If you feel like you have a problem with being verbally abusive, consider the following steps:
- When in a heated argument, go into another room and stay there until your mood is better. You can never win an argument or even hold a discussion if you are angry and the only thing you want to do is break the other person down.
- Try drinking lots of water, and sit down. If you are sitting down already, lie down (It’s in Hadith as well)
- Anger is generally ‘haram’ in our religion, so steer clear of it as much as possible. Usually, between husbands and wives, whenever such a situation enters the scene, it is better to tell the other person that the discussion should be done once I/he/she feels a little better, especially if the other person has started becoming abusive.
- Tell your friends/spouse/parent whoever is verbally abusing you, that it is NOT okay and that it won’t be tolerated, because you are a human being full of emotions and it causes you mental strain.
- Lastly, if nothing works, it is time for you to have an intervention with another individual who can solve the problem for you or help you out; whether you’re a couple, two best friends or parents and children; the list isn’t limited to these obviously.
As a resident of Pakistan, and as a Pakistani woman, I strongly believe that people should be more vocal about verbal and physical abuse, because men are conditioned into thinking ‘it is okay to abuse your OWN wives and children’ to teach them a lesson. We forget, in the midst of things, that these people are human beings as well. They are individuals worthy of respect, caring and love. You can never respect a person who does not respect you; it doesn’t matter if the person is younger or older than you, you just cannot.
Respect has to be earned, it cannot magically appear, and people only respect each other when there’s mutual feelings involved. Verbally and mentally abusive people are seldom ever respected, because they create feelings of negativity and sorrow in other individuals, and they give painful memories to other people. If you want respect, you need to give respect; it’s as simple as that.
If you have a problem with being verbally abusive towards other people, the time to stop is NOW. Help yourself and others around you, and make this world a little better. Sometimes, we forget that we are also human, and that we are capable of making mistakes or being a little ‘off track’. I think this lockdown is the best time to go deep into ourselves and observe our very own nature, and to figure out which parts of us need ‘healing’.
Sending love and positivity to all my readers!