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Letter: Verbal abuse of Vincentian citizens by a public officer
Published on August 19, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Sir:

Almost everyone has heard of, or knows of someone who has been verbally abused by a public officer in Saint Vincent. Verbal abuse is a kind of battering that doesn't leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering.

Verbal abuse is the use of words to cause harm to the person being spoken to. It is difficult to define and may take many forms. Similarly, the harm caused is often difficult to measure. The most commonly understood form is name-calling. Verbal abuse may consist of shouting, insulting, intimidating, threatening, shaming, demeaning, or derogatory language, among other forms of communication.

Perpetrators of verbal abuse often misuse their authority and prey on those in a subordinate position. Victims of verbal abuse are often told they are to blame for the abuser's behaviour and reluctant to take action to end the abuse. Verbal abuse may lead to stress, depression, physical ailments, and other damage.

Verbal abuse is a behaviour, not a disease. But verbal abuse, like all kinds of abuse is mostly caused by an underlying disease. Healthy people might occasionally lose their temper, leading to an outburst, but a consistent pattern of hurtful verbal abuse can only be the result of a deeper problem.

Verbal abuse, and most other types of abuse, is caused by an underlying disorder. Most often, the disorders are borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, or sociopathy -- technically called antisocial personality disorder. Understanding what is going on in a verbally abusive situation requires understanding these disorders.

I consider madness to be an essential piece of this puzzle, though their actions make no sense from the perspective of a healthy person, there is something inside them that motivates them. Most abusers live with intense and terrifying fears. Events which are insignificant to normal people might trigger these fears in abusers, unleashing powerful and brutal actions on their part, unconsciously intended to reduce their fear. The intent may be to control another person, to discredit someone who seems to be criticizing or may criticize the abuser, or to keep someone from leaving (abandoning) the abuser. Having said all that, sometimes it is as simple as being a mixture of coward and bully.

Categories

The first category of verbal abuse is withholding. The abuser who withholds information and refuses to listen to his opponent, denies him knowledge and experience and leaves him ignorant of the truth.

The second is countering. This is the dominant response of the verbal abuser who sees his opponent as an adversary. He is constantly countering and correcting everything he says and does. Internally he may even be thinking, "How dare he have a different view!"

Countering is very destructive to a situation because it prevents the opponent from knowing what his attacker thinks about anything. Sometimes the verbal abuser will cut off discussion in mid-sentence before he can finish his thought. In many ways, he cannot even allow him to have his own thoughts.

A third category of verbal abuse is discounting. This is like taking a one hundred-dollar item and reducing its price to one cent. Discounting denies the reality and experience of the opponent and is extremely destructive. It can be a most insidious form of verbal abuse because it denies and distorts the opponent’s actual perception of the abuse.

Sometimes verbal abuse is disguised as jokes. Although his comments may masquerade as humour, they cut the opponent to the quick. The verbal jabs may be delivered crassly or with great skill, but they all have the same effect of diminishing the opponent and throwing him off balance.

A fifth form of verbal abuse is blocking and diverting. The verbal abuser refuses to communicate, establishes what can be discussed, or withholds information. He can prevent any possibility of resolving conflicts by blocking and diverting.

Accusing and blaming is another form. A verbal abuser will accuse his opponent of some wrongdoing or some breach of the basic agreement of the meeting. This has the effect of diverting the conversation and putting the other person on the defensive.

Another form of verbal abuse is judging and criticizing. The verbal abuser may judge his opponent and then express his judgment in a critical way. If he objects, he may tell him that he is just pointing something out to be helpful, but in reality he is expressing his lack of acceptance of her.

Trivializing can also be a form of verbal abuse. It is an attempt to take something that is said or done and make it insignificant. When this is done in a frank and sincere manner, it can be difficult to detect.

Undermining is also verbal abuse. The abuser not only withholds emotional support, but also erodes confidence and determination. The abuser often will squelch an idea or suggestion just by a single comment.

Name-calling can also be verbal abuse. Continually calling people unwarranted nasty names

Ordering is another classic form of verbal abuse. It denies the equality and autonomy of the opponent. When an abuser gives orders instead of asking, he treats him like a slave or subordinate.

Denial is the last category of verbal abuse. Although all forms of verbal abuse have serious consequences, denial can be very insidious because it denies the reality of the matter. In fact, a verbal abuser could read over this list of categories and insist that he is not abusive.

In the UK, verbal abuse can attract some charges under certain laws.

Section 5 Public Order Act, threatening abusive or insulting, harassing alarming distressing, words, actions or signs in a public place.

The same for over the phone under the Misuse of Telecommunications Act.

Within a private place then you would have to be inducing the person to violence for it to constitute an affray.

Words liable to cause harassment alarm or distress is an offence under sect 2. It is a summary offence [magistrates court]. Maximum sentence £5,000 or six months.

In most United States jurisdictions, verbal abuse is not a punishable crime as it protected under your right to free speech. Verbal abuse is replaced by verbal assault, which can be a punishable criminal act.

Is verbal abuse a criminal act in SVG?

Peter Binose
Self appointed keeper of the whistle
 
Reads: 8838





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Comments:

STEVE_HUGGINS:

Peter, I frankly recognise that our nationals greatly need to learn, internalise and practise far more good customer relations.

Yes, greater utilization of more positive and empathic interpersonal relations and professional public relations is sorely needed.

More to the point, though, our POLITICIANS badly need to evince some HUMILITY AND RESPECT FOR THEMSELVES AND THEREFORE FOR OTHERS.

To think that we didn't really need such basic things just a few years (decades?) ago.

The old people uses to 'teach we that MANNERS AND BEHAVIOUR CARRY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD --- er, throughout LIFE.

Nah tell certain ah dem politrickans dat, though.

DEM GO "ISOLATE" YUH from yuh own, own Black brothers and sisters, and ancestral cousins.

My hat off to that black nationalist Matthew Thomas. A luta continua, the struggle continues.

Peter:

STEVE, my old Granny who I loved very much, was very wise and told me more than once "manners maketh man". Later when I was being educated I was amazed to discover that this saying was first used by an Englishman, William of Wykeham (1324-1404), bishop of Winchester and chancellor of England, who was the founder of Winchester College and New College. By this time Granny had passed on, so I never could ask her where she got that saying from.

I also learnt that, manners are the optional, unenforced standards of conduct between humans. Like laws, they set down a means of measuring behaviour, though without a policing service - other than an informal 'punishment' of social disapproval. Unfortunately the only way we have of punishing these nasty mannerless people in SVG politics, is by the ballot box.


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