[Trigger warning: Conversation about abuse. ]
Can we talk about a big clobber word? Abuse. Also, its derivatives: abusive and abuser.
They’re ugly words, kind of like the word racist or rape. Be an abusive parent, and you might get your kids taken away, or, at the very least, be shamed and ostracized. Abuse is horrible, horrifying, beyond the pale.
I’ve experienced abuse a few times in my life. I’ve seen first-hand the terrible damage abuse causes. So you’d think I’d be glad that these words are clobber words. You’d think I’d want them to smash through bad behavior and send abusers scurrying back into dark holes, never to be seen again.
But I don’t. Instead, I think making abuse into a clobber word hurts everyone. Assuming abuse is something only psychopathic monsters do makes it harder to see abuse accurately. It makes abuse seem obvious and hard to do, when instead it is (depressingly) subtle and a tool that’s startlingly easy to reach for.
Making “abuse” into an elephant in the room makes it harder for all of us to notice its size and figure out how to get it out of our houses, churches, and governments…
I’m over at SheLoves Magazine today, discussing why I think it’s good to de-fang the word “abuse”. Join me there?