Abuse is long term repeated attacks, whether physical or verbal, that cause physical or mental harm. Abuse may be a “well meaning,” attempt to get someone to do or say something that the person believes to be the right thing, but that is no excuse for continued misbehavior, once the person has been advised that the behavior is abuse and unacceptable.

Are you tired of being a victim of abuse?

Whether the abuse is from a school bully, someone mistakenly called  friend, a family member (spouse, child, parent, sibling, etc.),  a coworker, or a supervisor, the first thing to learn is that no one has the right to abuse others: heart and mind. You cannot simply know a thing, you have to believe it, for it to make a difference in how you think and behave.

Stopping abuse has three primary parts:

1. The first and foremost step is to stop being a victim.

  • Predators identify prey by sight, smell, and sound. Bearing (body language) and attitude (affected by self concept and affects attitude toward self and others) are the biggest factors in not being a victim. Face it, humans are animals and have instinctive behaviors. When humans behave like prey, those humans who are more predatory in nature, zero in and attack.

– Methods useful in improving an individual’s behavior and concept of self:

  • Self defense courses, such as martial arts. Learning self defense, provides the means of preventing the production of fear pheromones (smelling like a victim), by giving the means to defend against attack and the confidence to not be terrified.
  • Personal development classes
  • Mediation classes teach people how to talk to others, by helping to identify the source of problems, mitigating factors, stressors, and solutions to issues, in order to mediate a resolution to a conflict.
  • Psychology classes
  • Public speaking classes

– People who are often mistaken for victims include people who are shy, timid, or loners. Many a bully has found out the hard way that a shy, timid, loner is not necessarily a pushover or a victim. Learning appropriate body language, however, helps to prevent an attack before it begins, by portraying a confident individual, capable of self defense and possibly returning favor for favor.

2. Educate the abuser or remove yourself from the situation.

– Sometimes people simply do not realize that their words are hurtful in the extreme. Sometimes, all it takes is having a frank discussion, laying down boundaries, and drawing a line in the sand, by advising the person that the abuse is unacceptable and that other options exist.

– Sometimes, as in the case of a bully, it does take self defense. Remember to never instigate a fight. The instigator is automatically in the wrong and such behavior leads to incarceration, expulsion, etc. You should, however, always be ready and willing to defend yourself. My father told it to me this way, “never start a fight, but you had better be ready to finish it.” In other words, do not roll over and let someone beat you up. Do not forget to get evidence, such as an audio or video recording of the confrontation/conversation, as a hazardous situation may merit a restraining order or defending the right of self defense (in court or in the principle’s office).

– If there is any concern that this is a hazardous situation (perhaps even if not), this discussion should occur in neutral territory, preferably with an authority figure (definitely with someone on hand to mediate and prevent a physical safety issue, but be ready to leave. Again, remember to get evidence.

3. Talk to someone in a position of authority over that person and be prepared to leave if that does not solve the problem.

– If the person cannot be educated, you do not have to put up with continued abuse. You have choices.

  • Jobs are a dime a dozen. A person’s life and health are not worth keeping a job. Get a new one if necessary.
  • Attend a different school.
  • A hardened bully can go to Juvy (juvenile hall) or a school for problem children.
  • A person “called friend,” who is willing to hurt a “friend,” is no friend and is easily dismissed.

– If the first person in the chain of authority contacts does not provide satisfaction, do not be afraid to go over their heads. If starting with a teacher, other options are the counselor and the principal. If starting with a supervisor, other options are the manager, human resources, or the EEO office. If the problem is with a family member, authority figures may include that person’s parent, siblings, or grandparents.

If the situation merits it, do not be afraid to take the issue to the police and do not forget that there is always the option to leave. (If underage, leaving a parent’s house does require the intervention of the police.)

Please refer to rule #5 in the courtesy rules. You are responsible for your own choices.