What is abuse and how does it look in the world today? The definition of abuse according to the Oxford Living Dictionaries is:
“To use (something) to bad effect or for a bad purpose; misuse”
“To treat with cruelty or violence, especially regularly or repeatedly.” (1)
Many people would recognise domestic violence as abuse or in the case of an alcoholic, the alcohol consumption as abuse. However, ‘abuse’ is being recognised as meaning so much more in the media today. It was thought in the past that abuse wasn’t that common but its spectrum has widened these days and includes emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is seen in both the home and the workplace in the form of bullying behaviour. Abuse is also seen in other areas such as in the sporting arena and nowadays on social media. This latter has even driven people to suicide and is deeply shocking.
There is corruption in companies – both financial and corporate. Big companies have off-shore headquarters whereby they can avoid paying taxes in the country where they carry out most of their work. Is this not another form of abuse? The more our awareness is raised, the more we tend to see abuse. However, my feeling is that corruption has always been there but we are now finding out about it more.
How come we have tolerated abuse for so long? Is it the shame we feel and don’t want to stand out or have attention drawn to it and to us? Until a few years ago it was a brave woman who stood up for truth and called out anyone who abused her. It was commonly thought that a woman who had been the victim of domestic abuse must have done something to upset her partner. Equally so, when raped on the city streets, at parties, in offices and in their own homes for example, women can get blamed for their attack. Even today in a more tolerant society, many women are cross examined as to their dress code when the abuse occurred, and it is often suggested that “she asked for it.”
Lately there has been a spate of acid attacks on the streets, whereby men and women have been disfigured for life. There is a saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” However is this true? Men tend to be more physical when they abuse, but women can use acidic words to abuse others emotionally: both of these can inflict long lasting effects on others.
With social media today, nothing much is kept secret any more. Cyber abuse can consist of sexting which has become commonplace – naked photos of girlfriends can get passed around a group. Vilification of both sexes, of race and of culture occurs on social media.
Young people (and adults for that matter) need more education around abuse e.g. exploring what abuse includes, and the need to respect others and themselves, and also to understand the laws regarding abuse.
The recent allegations against Harvey Weinstein in the USA movie industry is but the tip of the iceberg. Many people in positions of power have thought they can have their cake and eat it too. I wonder how many men have been abused by women in power positions and if so, would they speak up? This can occur in any industry. If a woman or man’s job is predicated on keeping silent when either has been harassed and abused, this should not be tolerated in the 21st century. Recently, two British MPs were investigated for alleged sexual abuse against their young female employees and have since been demoted.
It is time for such abuse to be called out. Corruption and abuse have gone under cover for too long. The ‘#MeToo’ forum is gaining names at a rapid pace on social media as more women are starting to speak out. Few women have experienced no abuse at all in their lifetime – be it ever so subtle. From catcalls to unasked for comments that are given in the street, to rubbing up against women on a crowded tube train. Men passing this off as ‘a joke’ when it is anything but, can no longer be used as an excuse.
In complete contrast, good men can and have been smeared by people calling out abuse when such men have lived exemplary lives. Even when investigations prove their innocence, many will believe “there is no smoke without fire.” Such investigations can prove deleterious to a man’s career. The whole area can become a minefield.
It is time for everyone who finds any form of abuse abhorrent to stand up and be counted.
A quote attributed to Edmund Burke I am inspired by is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” (2)
By Sue, 67, Somerset UK
- Oxford Dictionaries | English. (2018). abuse | Definition of abuse in English by Oxford Dictionaries. [online] Available at: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/abuse [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].
- Anon, (2018). Edmund Burke Quotes (Author of Reflections on the Revolution in France). [online] Available at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/17142.Edmund_Burke [Accessed 1 Apr. 2018].