Saturday, July 29, 2006
The Pervasiveness of Abuse: Denial of Voice
Based on talking to 100's (maybe 1000's?) of HSPs via email over the past decade, and from message boards and listservs and online communities, as well as from Gatherings and workshops... it seems to be a sad fact that an alarming number of HSPs end up being part of an emotionally/verbally abusive dynamic I can best describe as "denial of voice."
It may be that everyone who has something "a little different" about them (HSP or not) is subject to having their reality questioned by the mainstream, but with the typical HSPs' soft spoken and accommodating demeanor, they seem more likely to have their voice "walked on" by dominant (but usually insecure) personalities. In isolated incidents it might not really constitute "abuse," but as a pattern in primary relationships/friendships it quickly does cross over into abuse. Invalidating someone because you feel threatened by their not thinking like you is-- at the very LEAST-- a form of bullying. Bullying as a long term pattern is abusive.
I was raised with this pattern, and have become rather "intimately familiar" with it, as I worked through my large "valise" of old baggage. My typical memory of childhood would be making statements like "Mom, the label in my shirt is scratchy," and getting responses like "Oh, what absolute nonsense! You can't feel a thing;" or if I expressed sadness over some roadkilled animal at the side of the road my dad might say "Rubbish! People don't feel sad over such things." Quite literally, your voice is "denied." And in the process, you gain a feeling of being "defective." For me, it became my "truth" (false, rather than my Authentic Truth) as I reached adulthood that my feelings had "no value." Thus, I "learned" to not HAVE feelings.
Most people don't recognize this type of dynamic as "something" because it doesn't look abusive... there's no yelling, and to most people it just looks like "friendly bantering" between spouses/family members. In fact, most mental health professionals (except emotional abuse specialists) will semi-brush it aside and say stuff like "You just need some assertiveness training." Useful as that may be (and I certainly don't deny that it has its place), fighting fire with fire doesn't actually remove the fire. The situation is generally self-perpetuating, because the abuser paints themselves the "victim" of someone's hypersensitivity.
Abuse is wrong, no matter what form it takes.
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