In this episode I address a commonplace habit in Western culture that harms survivors of emotional abuse as well as a better way to handle it.
Get a coaching session with me: https://calendly.com/gerdungmelinda/coaching-session
Beat Provided By https://freebeats.io
Produced By White Hot
Hey my friends. So I want to talk today about the tendency we have in Western culture to scrub our words. So instead of saying someone died, we'll say they passed away. At the bank I work at, when someone gets fired or laid off, we say that they got displaced. We take a word that has a lot of emotional connotation for pain and suffering behind it, and then we use a different word in its place so that we don't have to face up to the pain that is involved. We can have a conversation about displacements more comfortably than we can about firing people. We remove the loadedness of the word and avoid looking at the pain and I think this is a harmful thing to do. At the very least, I think it is disrespectful to those who are suffering. It sort of shoves their pain away. Like don't bring that here. We don't want to see it. I think this happens to emotional abuse survivors too. So for an example, the other day my mom was telling me a story about how there is a nurse now that checks in on my grandpa, and she was telling me that they were astonished because they discovered that he could put his own shoes on and quite easily too. And she was surprised because he had been making my grandma do it for him. And it was incredibly difficult for my grandmother to do it. Like it was extremely painful for her to get down and do this for him. And it turns out he could do it just find himself. And I was not surprised at all. And I said as much to her. I was like yeah, he dicks with her all the time for sport. Like he likes to cause her suffering for his own like twisted amusement. And I was reminded of the other recent time where he decided she didn't wear her jewelry enough so he started giving it away behind her back to anyone who came by the house. And I discovered that he was doing that because he randomly gave me some jewelry one time when I was over there. And he said to me, it's from your grandma, she just doesn't know it. And he was like super gleeful and like giggling to himself. Like he was just pleased as punch about this. And I thought it was so weird. So I went to her and I was like What was that about? And she had no idea. She had no idea that he had been giving her jewelry away. So then I had to like go track down her jewelry and get it back. but like this is the sort of thing that he does. And my mom said, Yeah, I guess sometimes he does have a bad sense of humor. And I was like, Oh no, no, no. No, no, no, no. A bad sense of humor is telling fart jokes at the dinner table. A bad sense of humor is raunchy jokes at inappropriate venues. Emotional abuse tactics are not a bad sense of humor. Abuse is abuse. Hurting people or punishing them for not wearing jewelry as you think they should is not a sense of humor. It's abusive, it's manipulative. I think it matters what we call it. I think it matters because when you call abuse a bad sense of humor it is gaslighting the person who is being abused. If my grandma were to come out and tell us something that he did to her, and we were like, Oh yeah, sometimes he has a bad sense of humor. Like that's dismissing her experience. It is invalidating the seriousness of the situation. And it can leave someone who is being abused to start to question themselves, right. That's what gaslighting does. You start to question if maybe you're the problem, like maybe I just don't have a sense of humor. Maybe I just don't get the joke. And that was a form of gaslighting that my ex loved to do. He would say something incredibly cruel. And then when I would get upset about it, he would just be like, Oh, you need to lighten up. Can't you take a joke? And it is common for the abuser to gaslight, their victim. I think any of us who have been in an abusive relationship have experienced gaslighting in one form or another at some point during that relationship. but I think it makes it even worse for the person being abused when the people around them also participate in the gaslighting. There is a shame psychologist named David Bedrick who does excellent work in helping people heal shame. And he says that while the abuse does cause significant damage to people, sometimes the witnesses around the person being abused can cause even more damage. When a witness to abuse is not a compassionate witness, it causes shame to enter. Think of a child being abused by their father and the mother does nothing about it and just says you should try not to make him mad. The mother in that case acts as a shaming witness. She sees the harm being caused and blames the victim. The child then takes responsibility for the abuse. They blame themselves. They think there's something wrong with them and that they deserve it somehow. If I were just different my father wouldn't act this way. It's because of me that my father does this. And I think this is what happens when you call abusive behavior a bad sense of humor. It creates shame in the person being abused. And I think this goes for any way that we scrub our language around abuse. When we scrub our language we are shaming and gaslighting the person that is in pain. I think one of the best things we can do for someone who is being mistreated is to be that compassionate witness for them and to call things what they are and to not scrub the words. To say to them, that's not right, how you're being treated. That's not okay. That's abusive. You deserve better. As survivors we all know that so often people in abusive relationships stay in those abusive relationships. You can't force someone to leave, but I think you can provide that compassionate witness. You can acknowledge their pain and I think this goes a long way. I think it goes a long way in planting the seed that No they aren't crazy. No, they aren't overreacting. Maybe they do deserve better. Maybe what is happening in that to them is wrong. And that little seed is worth so much. Sometimes that little seed makes all the difference for them. That is what I have for you this week. My friends. Until next time, be well