Breaking the Silence to Educate Others on Violence
Dirty little secrets, sad little lies, and trying to understand “normal” in this ever so un-normal world has become the challenge of those working with survivors of violent crimes. The children live what they see and later live what they learn. Violent homes, neighborhoods and schools condition children to live in a form of learned helplessness. This later becomes adults unwittingly allowing the same violent behavior in their environment. The feeling that this behavior is normal or that the partner can be “fixed or changed” becomes an excuse for the abuse.
This faulty reasoning can apply throughout various aspects of any relationship. No matter how many men or women I work with I always hear -“I thought he/she would change with a little love or if they just knew I really loved them. If this or if that…” The abuser is an abuser. Baring some life changing – near death – or god fearing dramatic experience in their life the abuser will remain an abuser. The most important issue is to educate the survivor.
Behaviors range in various degrees depending on the level of grooming reached and the stage of the relationship. Most abusers are often controlling. They want to control the partner’s actions. They limit family, friends, phone use, and even go so far as to control the clothes, makeup, and hairstyles of the partner. It is not uncommon to discover the abuser going through the phone log, checking the mileage on the car, or checking the ashtray for odd brand cigarette butts, checking the clothes or even partner for odd smells or evidence of sexual contact with another becomes almost a ritual to the abuser. If someone allows it once it will continue and even become worse as time passes. (I find all of these to be extremely disrespectful and have ended relationships immediately over the first sign of even one of these.) The idea that it will prove innocence and stop never happens. It is disrespectful drama. If one partner allows this form of disrespect it becomes a slippery slope to other bad behaviors.
Emotional abuse is the act of belittling, ignoring, corrupting, acting cruel, isolating, rejecting, and scaring another person, as well as being continually yelled at or humiliated, bullied, told they will be hurt or killed and is a form of brain washing. (Datehookup, 2012) Emotional abuse is more psychologically harmful than physical abuse. There are a couple of reasons for this. Even in the most violent families, the incidents tend to be cyclical. Early in the abuse cycle, a violent outburst is followed by a honeymoon period of remorse, attention, affection, and generosity, but not genuine compassion. (The honeymoon stage eventually ends, as the victim begins to say, “Never mind the damn flowers, just stop hitting me!”) Emotional abuse, on the other hand, tends to happen every day. The effects are more harmful because they’re so frequent. (Stosny, 2012) Individuals tend to believe the repeated remarks. Gender holds no sway here for both men and women can be emotionally abusive. They tend to manipulate the weakness of the others fears. Emotional abuse seems more personal than physical abuse, more about you as a person, more about your spirit. It makes love hurt. (Stosny, 2012)
Violent behaviors range from slapping, beatings, forced sexual acts, choking to torture. The nature of the abuse may not even seem realistic to the survivor who lives in an emotional state of shock. The individual listening to the stories of vast accounts of abuse that range in such a depraved scale may take note that the survivor is either emotionless or completely devastated needs to understand that the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can become as if one is emotionally numb.
No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. (Help-guide, 2012)Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. (Help-guide, 2012) While women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. This is devastating in ways most do not realize for men are often not taken seriously when they are victims of abuse and treatment for them can be hard to secure. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe. (Help-guide, 2012)
The main goal of this article is to inform and provide information for a discussion on violence of varied levels. It is the holiday season. This brings out the best and the worst in people. While some have amazing calm lives – others live in their own personal hell. Make a resolution to find peace this year if you are in an abusive relationship. Reach out – get help – get away.
If you wonder why your son or your daughter allows abuse in their lives maybe they consider it “normal” from the lives they have lived – the things they have seen or heard from the time spent in childhood. It is not a blame thing – they live what they learn. A new normal for all could be peace.
|SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP|
|Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings||Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior|
1. Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
|Does your partner:
1. Humiliate or yell at you?
|2. Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?||2. Criticize you and put you down?|
|3. Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?||3. Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?|
|4. Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?||4. Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?|
|5. Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?||5. Blame you for their own abusive behavior?|
|6. Feel emotionally numb or helpless?||6. See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?|
|Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats||Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior|
|Does your partner:
1. Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
|Does your partner:
1. Act excessively jealous and possessive?
|2. Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?||2. Control where you go or what you do?|
|3. Threaten to take your children away or harm them?||3. Keep you from seeing your friends or family?|
|4. Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?||4. Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?|
|5. Force you to have sex?||5. Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?|
|6. Destroy your belongings?||6. Constantly check up on you?|
2. Steven Stosny , (2012) Psychology Today: Anger in the age of entitlement; http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/200808/effects-emotional-abuse-it-hurts-when-i-love3. Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., (2012) Domestic Violence and Abuse Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm
3. Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., (2012) Domestic Violence and Abuse Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm
Of Fragility and Freedom
Life is fragile
Precious is all the days
The winds of change blow it
So master your road
From where you are
Steer your life as you seriously
as you would a car
Your choices today
Will determine where you will be
Six days, Six weeks, Six months, Six years
It is your choice you see,
Learn, progress, and be set free!
Magdelania J. McBride 3.23.2010
Jesus stated – You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
Voices in the Silence
January 16, 2008
Mental health services, in the young deaf community, have many issues pertaining to providing adequate care. Living in profound silence, 43% of deaf youth struggle to prevail in life with mental illness. Counselors and psychiatrist are sacrificing to meet their unique needs. This is a look at the young deaf culture, their mental health dilemma, and the sacrifice developing to accommodate the silent world.
Voices in the Silence
“The voices tell me to cut myself. It makes me feel… feel as if I have control over just one thing in my life.” Suzann replied in sign language, when I signed to her about her schizophrenia and cutting ritual. She is 17 years young. A prominent student in high school, she also was in several extra-curricular activities. The schedule in front of me was staggering. “When I take my medication I have better days. I like to stay busy; it helps me to deal with the inner problems,” Suzann continued. “I am lucky; we have a counselor at school, which referred me for services, so many people receive no help at all.” She is not alone fighting a sever mental illness. Her plight echoes through out the young deaf community.
Mental illness issues affect 43% of the deaf youth in America. (Eldik, 2004) The illnesses range the full gamut, from depression to schizophrenia; all of which are very hard to treat in the hearing community, under the best of circumstances. Medications and therapy treatment assigned for the youth must be changed and altered to get the right balance. Chemical consistency in the individual is remarkably different from one person to another; balance in the brain enzymes and medication application can incur many trial and error efforts to discover what works best, with the least side effects. My own treatment and observations through the last 26 years of mental illness still takes time and proper communication with the professionals to achieve and maintain a feasible balance. Trying and accommodating the various medications in different dosages over time to find a combination that stabilizes the illness takes patience, trust, and communication. Continuing close relationships with psychiatrist and therapist help as medications build a tolerance in the brain and are changed to have continuing good results. This is an intricate dance between the patient and the professionals.
Communication is Vital
The young deaf community are susceptible to challenges the hearing world seem to be unable to conceive. This is manifest in the communication situation. Communication interferences in the postlingually deaf subjects determine a predisposition to mental distress. The subject observes the loss as more of a disability than prelingually deaf individuals do. De Graff (2002) found correlations in the prelingually deaf population as having a better self-image and quality of life than their postlingual counterparts. (DeGraff, 2002) Accordingly, DeGraff surmised the postlingual group felt socially isolated, less accepted by there hearing peers and more likely to have additional medical and social problems. Sign Language and speech reading in addition to written language are used to assess the deaf for mental difficulties. Various mental issues, in the hearing-impaired community, have no relative association with the level of imparity in the hearing. (Wallis, 2004) Internal and external manifestations studied in the subjects to determine the viability of treatment may gain the psychiatric personnel insight into the depth of illness. Truly, communication is imperative to the well being of the patient.
Progress serving this dynamic group of deaf youth marches forward. Psychiatrist, counselors, therapist, and social workers are reaching out to gather and treat this vast array of people. The loving dedication of counselors and therapist learning to use American Sign Language with their deaf patients is cause for great pride. Providing translators for deaf clients is a hard job. Fifty-six percent of the deaf in one important study were unable to find accessible mental health care for lack of translators. (Steinberg, 1998) Casework and management plans effectively in place help benefit the youth so they are able to make a fulfilling life. Positive reinforcement and patience is a virtue. Deaf who are able to read and write are often disadvantaged by linguistic barriers. The use of the English language for the deaf is very different from what a hearing person uses. The lack of use of conjunctions, prepositions, time continuum, and phrases cause many problems also in diagnosing adequately the specific symptoms of some forms of mental illness. Deaf think in pictorials and sign language, how does one ask, “Do you hear voices?” (a sign of schizophrenia) (Shapira,1999) A few moments of fast signing by a patient can be seen as a manic state rather than a change in emotion. Expressions of emotions by the deaf are also a conveyance of their language; they rely on the facial expressions and body actions to understand or express the situation. This also is at times miss-read by a well-meaning clinician. The language of sign does not have adequate words for a variety of emotions; this can pose so many issues. This is why emotional behavior and facial expressions are imperative to the deaf so they gain insight. The deeper study of kinesics in the culture would help professionals diagnose illness more effectively.
The Hope for Development
Schools and mental health agencies are encouraging the deaf to become professionals in the mental health fields. The hope for the future of the deaf culture is healthy productive individuals that direct the members of their society to prosper and strive to build a well-educated peer base. The development project in place is to increase the number of signing members in the mental health and counseling community. Adapting test for mental evaluations will also help. Time and patience are encouraged by all involved. The protocol now is to have a double evaluation before commitment, this second opinion procedure is in place to secure the diagnoses and stop miss-understandings that cause wrongful commitment.
I hope that someday the mental health of deaf youth will be as easy to acquire as it is for the hearing world. I have 26 years of experience with the mental health system and 28 years working with the deaf. I intend on having many more years ahead to continue my work. Anthropology is the study of humanity and the contemporary human diversity. I am so profoundly touched by the deaf culture as a whole. The voices in the silence are many. Deaf youth have issues. There are answers. The best of care takes time. Time takes the voices away.
American Annals of the Deaf 148:5, Eldik, V. (2004). . In Volume 148, (Spring Ed.), (pp.390-395 ). : .
DeGraff, (2002). . Mental Health Functioning In Deaf Children and Adolescents (Ed.), (pp. ). .
Shapira, N. A. MD, PhD (1999) Evaluation of bipolar in inpatients with prelingual deafness. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 156(8), 1267-1269
Steinberg, A.G. MD, Eckhart, E.A.CSW (1998, July) Cultural and Linguistic Barriers to Mental Health Services From the Deaf Consumers Prospective. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 155(7), 982-984
Wallis, (2004) Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education 2004. . In (Ed.), (9: pp2-14 ). : . http://jdsde.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/9/1/2