Recently someone commented on this blog, misconstruing a comment made by someone else, attacked that person, made accusations and as I was trying to remember how to block the person from making further inflammatory comments, they managed to write four more focussed entirely on me. Each comment was more accusatory and hate filled than the next, and though they didn’t get through moderation, I saw them before deleting and successfully blocking the person and their various aliases. And yet it made me sad to have to block them.
After years of blogging I have learned there is no use responding to such comments, because when someone has made the decision that you are hateful, and untrustworthy, really anything said will be taken as yet another example of what they’ve decided is true and reinforcing whatever it is this person believes. Ironically, this is what happens to anyone who has been objectified, not treated as an equal or even a human being with respect and dignity, but rather has come to represent something larger than any single person can possibly be.
I have also learned that it is better to remove the offending comments than to allow them, as they do not lead to useful, productive discussion, but instead end up creating a mosh pit of anger and resentment, which can be far-reaching, upsetting and triggering to a great many, as opposed to just the one or two the original comments were directed to.
When a person has been traumatized repeatedly throughout their childhood, made to feel inadequate, told they are inferior, treated cruelly, belittled and teased mercilessly, they grow up believing, at least a little, that they deserved such abuse. It also is common for that person to then become hyper vigilant of the same sort of cruelty being played out throughout their life with other people. It is a means of survival, as well as a way to protect themselves from more trauma.
For children especially, who’ve experienced on-going trauma, the tendency can be to see this same kind of abusive behavior that they grew up with, in others now that they are older. Sometimes they may be correct and people really are being abusive, but other times their reaction will be incorrect. People who wish them no harm, people who even care about them, will be viewed as abusive too, in keeping with all those people who hurt them in the past. The original trauma will be replayed over and over leading to an unending cycle of trauma, reaction and trauma.
I’m not saying anything new here, you can read about PTSD, trauma and the result of systematic abuse over long periods of time by doing a little research yourself…
The point is, when we as a society, condemn a population of people, whether that is because of skin color, gender, neurology, sexual preference or anything else, we are doing long-term damage. Damage that will result in an increase in addiction, depression, suicidal ideation, nightmares, anxiety, irritability, anger, difficulties forming close bonds with others and general feelings of isolation are a few of the symptoms documented.
Abuse is like that. It has long tentacles, reaching out over decades and even entire lives, causing those who have been victimized to respond to others who wish them no harm, as though they were.
There is no easy answer, but if there is a single word that can be used, which will certainly not do more harm, it is love. I know it sounds trite, too simple and clichéd, but I believe it is the only answer. As Emma wrote recently after reading a New York Times article about the ongoing fight for control of a vital highway in Afghanistan, “War is useless for making peace.” Love has always been the answer. Even if others cannot hear it, cannot believe it, cannot feel it, those of us who can, must be even more determined and vigilant. Love. Embracing those who are in pain, embracing those who are hurting, even and especially when they strike out. And while we do that, we must protect ourselves and those who need our protection from any who are intent on hurting us with strong boundaries and the help and protection of others. It’s a tricky balancing act and definitely something I am working on, but I am confident it can be done.