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Saturday, June 15, 2024

What is Abuse?

‘Abuse’ may be a strong word to use, which is why some of us can be reluctant to use it despite it being merited. Whereas, some others might use it too freely and judge any situation that upsets and tires them as abusive. So let’s try to be clear about what abuse is and isn’t.

Everyone and everything has a certain degree of capacity and potential at a given time and place. Going beyond this, demanding and/or imposing more on them, does indeed count as abuse. It is not incorrect to say that, technically, a person is abusing a machine if they are making it perform past the point where it is safe for it - where it is at risk of breaking down, doing what is not meant to or built for. Pretty much the same when it comes to living beings; there are certain things that they cannot handle well, if at all, and it would be abusive to force them to for it seriously threatens their well-being.

Now, you might be thinking, “What oversensitive, useless way to be! Life ain’t fair! Everyone faces hardship and struggles! Refusing to work under pressure is just immature and conceited!” If these are your thoughts, consider this: It is one thing to challenge ourselves to grow and it is another to destroy ourselves and therefore hinder our growth.

There are differences between accidental abuse that happens because one or neither knew their limits and deliberate abuse that happens due to disregard for the health of the abused. Furthermore, there’s abuse that’s light and can be easily and quickly mended and abuse that’s severe and may take years to fully recover from (if it is even possible to). And of course, all that’s in between.

Something that a lot of people fail to realize is that you can’t measure abuse by the actions alone - you have to take into account what impact and effects they have to be able to tell whether they’re abusive or not. This is why, often, victims of abuse have their experiences minimized by those who would have been able to take them without as much damage. And in contrast, this is also why some of the things that others ‘put up with’ seem worse than they really are for those involved. In other words, what would be detrimental to one subject, may not be for another.

More often than not, it is not appropriate to say, “You’re just being whiny! I’d be fine with it if it happened to me!” Maybe this is the case as, yes, there truly are whiners in the world that complain of having to lift a finger when they can very well do that and more, but perhaps you should take the time to consider that their complaints might be valid. And if so, a more helpful response would be to ask, “What do you think we could do about that, then, so that you’ll be doing better?”

These days, abuse is frequently overlooked because:
A) The abused does not recognize or admits the abuse and does not present obvious signs that it is happening. The few visible abusive actions seem benign instead of abusive.
B) Those surrounding the abused dismiss their calls for help as selfish cries for attention they are not obligated to respond to. It might be easier to assume that they are lying and/or overreacting (as manipulative and/or overentitled folks frequently do) than to actually make the effort to tend to them.
Therefore, unless you pay enough attention, you might not see it.

Asking the question “Are you okay?” may come in handy for yourself and for others IF answered truthfully.