What is Abuse?
The common belief in the Somali society is that physical abuse is the only kind of abuse, when in reality verbal abuse is the most common form of abuse. The damage of verbal abuse can be life-long. What is considered verbal abuse in others cultures is actually normalized in Somali culture, and harsh words are considered as a disciplinary tool to correct bad behavior by instilling fear, embarrassment, shame and guilt. However, the truth is that verbal abuse is a means of controlling one’s thoughts and feelings, and is a way in which abusers exercise their power over other people.
Verbal abuse includes the following behaviours below:
- use of foul and vulgar language
- yelling, name calling, put downs
- bullying through ignoring, insulting, and antagonizing
- belittling, like saying “you are nothing”
- insulting, inappropriate jokes, and demonizing
- spreading rumors about you or loved ones
- speaking poorly about family/friends
- accusations (of flirting with others)
- threats against their personal safety
This form of abuse can be equally as damaging as any other forms of abuse, leaving lifetime scars. Therefore, this can never be considered acceptable.