Let's talk about coping mechanisms.
Talk to a few of the elderlies. Seven out of ten will tell you a story about a harsh father they grew up fearing. However, with modernization came a discovery of the importance of respecting human dignity. It’s taught in schools as child abuse but to us unfortunately the idea of abusive parents after you hit your twenties is simply unheard of.
Thing is, abuse doesn’t have to end up with scars and bruises. It could very well be damage to one’s mental person. These are the kind of injuries that leave unseen scars to one’s identity and esteem.
Speaking to P Live, Shermaine Omondi, a practicing psychologist in one of the government hospitals expounded on just how drastic the effects of emotional abuse can have on a society. “In Kenya, psychology is not that expansive but we receive many cases that trickle down to emotional abuse as the core factor of the problem.”
What are some of the problems?
Shermaine says that people who have experienced abuse can react in either two ways: the strong belief that it was wrong can lead a victim to resolve to never treat people the same way or the idea that it is how things should be can clone an abuser off the victim.
“Some people react by becoming dependent to friends, self-harm, indulge drug abuse or become violent to their partners and children like their parents were to them.”
This can be strongly attributed to the individual’s coping mechanism. Bad coping mechanisms or what we call negative coping choices give the illusion of justice or reduce stress levels at the time of practice but afterwards overwhelm the individual with the harsh reality of its existence. “This is why so many girls are looking for acceptance from their friends and sleeping with older men for the feeling of a father figure. We could also connect it to violent traits by parents to their children and to their partners.”
On the flip side, victims have also been known to react to their abuse by not extending the harshness shown to other people. Again, it all falls back to coping mechanism.
If you are still living with the abusive parent the first step to finding freedom is to create space between the two of you. It’s pretty hard to avoid someone you’re living with under the same roof but finding a routine that allows you to be in the house when they are not around is a good place to start.
“One of the biggest problems facing the society right now is that people don’t speak about their problems,” Esther Wangui, a mother of three young adults states. Finding a friend to share with your problem goes a long way in finding a solution and relieving emotional burdens.
Also, have you tried to point out your feelings? An interesting analogy of the human character is that it is geared to self-gratification above all else. Look at the glass half full, it’s never just hate. An abuser’s actions could also be as a result of unresolved issues in their past or they don’t even know that they are doing it. Speaking out your problems can help the abuser find out that what they are doing is wrong.
“Seeking professional help is deemed unnecessary to a whole lot of people,” Shermaine says, “ However tough one may seem, there comes a time when seeking professional help becomes the biggest favour you can do for yourself.” It’s not new. Talking to someone who has helped others deal with the backlash of abuse can put a lot of things into perspective.