Welcome to the (abusive)Family!

I was recently having a conversation with my older brother about society, family, life–all the big, important issues. We were talking about the media circus and exchanging ideas about the motivation for various forms of media propaganda.

During our discussion, I stumbled upon what I thought was an apt metaphor: Our society is like one big abusive family! After recently experiencing a horrifyingly abusive relationship and awakening to the truth of my abusive childhood, I learned that abuse does not involve a single perpetrator and a single victim.

In an abusive family, there are usually multiple perpetrators and victims. An abusive parent may have been abused as a child and those they abuse might also abuse others. Besides becoming more conscious of the patterns of abuse in my own life, I became more aware of the patterns of abuse in other institutions and even in society at large.

People who abuse others need help to do what they’re doing. They need victims to believe they are unworthy of anything but punishment and they need others to agree with that same belief or at least to be so scared that they don’t object. This was painfully apparent in the story portrayed in the movie Spotlight. Stanley Tucci’s character hit on something when he said, “It takes a village to raise a child. It takes a village to abuse one.”

Abusive people rely on their ability to distort the truth in order to wield power and manipulate others. Abusive parents will often turn siblings against one another in order to continue their abuse and use tactics such as gaslighting to make the victim seem crazy or like they’re the ones perpetrating the abuse. If a victim is in any way a threat to the abusive system, they are pushed out.

Abusers also use different tactics to pacify their victims into accepting or even asking for abuse. (Nobody wants to be abused but many are fooled into thinking they’re not being abused.) They will often find different ways to “pleasure” their victims with gifts, sex, drugs, job opportunities, money, compliments and the like. Victims of all ages are lulled into accepting whatever is dolled out afterwards.

We see this echoed in our popular media and news sources(I hesitate to separate the two). Might it not be in the best interests of the powers that be to skew the truth? People are much easier to control when they’re afraid. They’re also much easier to control when they’re stratified. Just like an abusive family, people who can’t see past their differences can’t unite in order to fight the real enemy. Likewise, people who are satiated and brainwashed are more ready to accept abuse.

Should we not ask who is profiting from our divisiveness, from our hate, from our fear and even from our entertainment? Are opposing political parties, other genders or other ethnic groups the real enemies? Are money, status or “likes” what’s really important? Is there another group that stands to benefit from these things? While we’re consumed with fear over who’s going to be the next president, who is infiltrating our country or while we’re thinking about the next technological advance or what we’re going to buy next, perhaps there is a more sinister plot being hatched behind our backs…..or under our noses.

Don’t be scared! That’s what they want. Or, if you are scared, don’t let it rule you. Pause. Take a breath and think, not just with your mind but with your heart and see if their isn’t someone that stands to gain from your fear or your pleasure.

 

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