Posts Tagged ‘power and control’

Why do some people feel the need to bully others? Is it just about lunch money or who is “king of the hill” on the playground? No. I highly doubt it. And it just doesn’t happen in grade school either. Bullying, or abuse, happens all through the life span. Why? It could be any number of reasons. But one common component exists: the bully, or abuser, is attempting to exert their power and control over another individual (or group of people).

It is an epidemic in society that goes way beyond grade school bullying. And in many situations remains so far below the “radar” because many abusers use much more subtle weapons than simply their fists. In fact, many an abusive person may say “hey, I didn’t hit them!” But the abuses that leave the deepest scars are not the ones left by the hands of another. They are the subtle but painful abuses such as: emotional abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse (often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, etc.), coercion, intimidation, threats, financial abuse and many more. What these abuses have in common is they seek to place the abused in a subservient and unbalanced (keeping the person guessing as to whether they will encounter the sweet side or the sour side of a person is powerfully unsettling) position in relation to the abuser.

It all comes down to power and control.

The abuse may start pretty subtle if the offender is getting what they want, but if the victim does not respond as expected, or dares to exert their own free will in the situation, the level of abuses will escalate until the victim gives in. Well, not always. Sometimes the victim has a strong enough psychological core, that no matter how bullied or beleaguered they are, they are able to resist the control and maintain their autonomy.

Any relationship has the potential for abusive behavior. School children, friends, dating, marriage, work place and parenting are just some examples. The greater the perceived power differential deficit, the greater the potential for abuse. Imagine for a moment that your boss begins a subtle power play with you. You don’t like what is happening, but you are afraid to lose your job… so you give in. Or a parent-child relationship. The parent intends things to go a certain way (not atypical by itself, no child is a fan of boundaries and rules), and the child may not agree. If things somehow move from “expectations of being” to “conditions of worth,” then the power differential balance has shifted. If the person feels that they are at risk of losing their parents unconditional love, or their job–they may give in. Again, for a time. In any of these scenarios, it is quite possible that the person at the short end of the power and control stick may find a way to remove themselves from the abusive situation. If an individual is strong enough to say “enough is enough,” it is a sure bet the person who was exerting power and control will not be happy… nor will they acquiesce quietly.

Everyone deserves to be treated in a respectful, egalitarian, non-abusive, consistent manner. Even if one is an employee, child, spouse (or ex-spouse) or student… they still deserve the human dignity of not being bullied on any level!

“Thou shalt not be a victim, thou shalt not be a perpetrator, but, above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.” – Yehuda Bauer

This isn’t grade school anymore, and honestly… people tend to catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

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