Violence as a weapon have distorted the face of our planet innumerable times. From road rage cases to world wars; from open wars fought on line of controls to proxy wars fought within the boundaries targeting the innocent population violence has a history as old as human civilisation. The Charles Darwin’s Theory of (Survival Of The Fittest) Evolution found undying patronage in Man, where the sheer want to demonstrate dominance and hold onto the power have influenced him over ages and centuries to use “Violence” as tool of elimination of everything and everyone opposed to his ideas, perhaps seeming threat to his survival. Invasions, mass murders, crucifying the icons / leaders to instill fear, blood and gory – history has seen it all!
What is the purpose of resorting to Violence? Hitting / attacking someone physically has its core agenda – to hurt, to overpower, to silence, to instill fear – though the intent, the intensity, the reason / provocation differ in every situation. Physical wounds heal and might or might not leave scars behind apparent to the naked eyes but impact is beyond what we can see. Petty examples:
- A 10-year old son is beaten up by his father for being mischievous to discipline him because he believed in the saying “Spare The Rod Spoil The Child”. For few years it did discipline the son, few years later the son pretended to fear/ listen to his father and then gradually he lost both fear and respect for his father. In fact, he lost the fear of punishment for the rest of his life.
- A child saw her mother being beaten up and insulted daily at the hands of her father so much so that she was killed one day. Her father believed strongly in patriarchy to dominate his wife but his brutality has left his daughter fearing relationships for her life.
- In the momentous heat of a road rage a person kills another leaving the family of the deceased bewildered and broken.
- The brutal attacks of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have not only left generations crippled but has blemished the history pages.
I can go on and on like this. The mental impact of physical violence is something we rarely discuss or just brush and forget. Irony is that all the laws around the world are formed to curb violence as in the physical nature of it and since the mental assaults are unaccounted for, rarely laws are formulated to address the issue. Even if few are chalked out, the onus of proving the cause and effect relationship is quite a job for a person already hit.
Another Angle: Well since we all care about “Materialistic, Tangible, Physical” dimensions of things we completely undermine and underestimate or sometimes ignore the murderous impact one’s Words can have. The greatest asset a human being possesses is his ability to communicate, and words as a part of that process are really powerful. They can build and destroy with equal magnitude. An instance from lives of innumerable women pinned down by patriarchy: A well educated man who believes he is liberal in his thoughts, boasts of never raising his hands on his wife but would constantly pick on her -criticising her, demeaning her, mocking her, abusing her verbally and always getting away with, “I was only angry but you know how much I love you. And I am not like other husbands who hit their wives”. But his constant banter would leave the poor soul depleted in confidence and shattered. And his behaviour influences others as well to take her for granted, for instance children, in-laws and she herself. This is murder of the zeal, courage and enthusiasm of the person turning a soul into a lifeless machine. Depression, suicidal tendencies, anxieties and many more mental health complications are a result of such mental assaults. And since assault is not physical in nature it goes unnoticed, unreported most of the times. In India which is a patriarchal society laws are framed to curb domestic violence cases but the mental assault done by degrading banter is conveniently sidelined.
That was just a drop from the ocean of brutalities words have caused/ could cause.
How not to inflict “mental” violence: As much as you hate to be a victim of someone’s angst you must be careful enough not to inflict the same pain onto others:
- If words are silver, silence is golden. Don’t speak when not fit to, lest you put many things/ relationships at stake.
- Walking out of the heated or uncomfortable moments momentarily might save the day for good.
- Just put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Don’t spew the venom even if it is in humour, if you yourself can’t take it.
The mental impact of violence – physical or otherwise needs much more deep rooted discussion. I just tried to bring the required focus on the neglected issue. It requires much more introspection, doesn’t it?