Friday, April 27, 2012

Faces of Manipulation: Abuse the Generational Destroyer

We hear a lot about abuse in our society today.  There is both outrage that we allow it to go on in our society, and that people would allow these things to happen to them.  I find this curious though because too few people have even an idea of how abuse starts.  So today lets reveal some of the patterns of Generational Abuse, and I see no better place to start than in the current Presidential Election between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

I think both of these men are good people.  I think they both have the best interests of America at hand. But I find it interesting that when you hear their campaigns, they both have to wreck the reputation of the other because "that's how the game is played."  I've seen so many things about Mitt Romney being a flip-flopper and how he cannot stay consistent on any political subject there is for long.  I've also seen a lot of propaganda about how Obama has destroyed the economy of the United States.  And you hear about the negative so often that if there is any good, it is overshadowed by negative and hence you cause people to become disillusioned to the good of voting, the entire race for President becomes a popularity contest, and men who should be friends and colleagues working towards the best future for America, become bitter rivals who leave trails of discontent and shame in their wake.

But it doesn't stop there.  Then we the people step in and add our own two cents to everything.  From folks looking for ways to make Obama a Muslim and why Romney isn't a Christian.  Because they are threats to what we as people most value.  And in my opinion, what we value most my friends is power.

Anyone entrusted with power will abuse it if not also animated
with the love of truth and virtue, no matter whether he be a prince,
or one of the people. - Jean de La Fontaine, French Poet

When it comes to abuse of any kind it is all about power.  Think about it.  When a person gets so frustrated at their baby that they shake them violently it is a power struggle.  A newborn can make an adult feel helpless because they are so dependent on the adult for everything.  And in the cultures where folks say it is wrong to leave your newborn with someone else so you get a break it gets particularly difficult.  And when that child has cried for hours upon end and it isn't because they are sleepy, hungry, wet, cold, too warm or anything else you can do something about it is enough to break a person.  So when a parent shakes their child, how empowered must they feel when that silences their child?  The pattern repeats because they have found a way to quiet the child, and empower themselves.  Similar empowerment could have been achieved with finding a good friend to watch the child, but some of us just don't have friends who are that good.

But this doesn't just happen to children.  It happens in domestic partnerships (whether couples live together or get married) frequently also.  For example with a man who beats his wife, he usually is angry about something.  Usually it has to do with him, but he takes it out on her because it is easier.  So as he gets angrier about his own mistakes his tension builds.  Finally he gets so angry that he hits her.  He beats her until he's released all the tension that's within.  When she tries to get away it makes him angry because without her he can't release that tension.  Later he'll tell her how sorry he is for doing it and he'll even give her a gift of some sort to try and make it up to her and then things will be alright for a little while.  Until he gets overwhelmingly angry again.  Usually we think the man in this situation is a terrible person and we blame him for everything, but lets be honest.  He's a victim caught in a cycle which is a lot larger than he is.  This pattern of abuse has been in his family for generations already.  According to this source one fourth of domestic abuse goes unreported.  And before OJ Simpson how much went unreported?  And reporting it to the police doesn't even mean they can do anything in a lot of cases.  Because if the judge throws it out or the abuser is released from jail the next day, doesn't that just mean they are walking back into that home more angry?  And more angry means the beating lasts longer and is more severe.  Or that he needs to find other outlets for this anger, such as his children.

And in all of this most men who are perpetrating this crime are victims of such abuse themselves.  The kids like Harry Potter who turn out superbly well adjusted despite their abuse are remarkably rare.  I wish I were one of them myself.  But I'm not.  But I don't hold that against the person who hurt me.  They are a victim in this cycle just the same as I am.  The difference between us is I no longer choose to be a victim.  I reject that label and the cycle that comes with it.  Like Harry Potter, I am a cycle breaker.  

I didn't even know I was perpetuating the cycle, until recently.  Even when you aren't trying to be abusive by hitting someone, or calling them names, the tones you use and the words you choose can send messages loud and clear that will be interpreted as "hurtful and cruel."  And when I realized it I felt like I was less than the ants that people stepped on.  For me this is another effect of my own abuse, because the voices of my childhood still affect me daily.

Cycle breaking is hard.  It requires a different strength than it required for you to deal with the abuse.  Because you have change everything you learned before.  Never say a woman or a child isn't strong because of the abuse they've dealt with, actually they are very strong.  But that strength has to be developed in different ways to silence the voices of their abusers in their head.  I'm in group therapy right now to share my story in an environment I can trust and build that new strength.  And God-willing I'll be able help others one day.  Because the power I care about is Love, Truth, and Virtue.

This is not my mission alone however.  Everyone of us can do something to break the cycles of abuse.  It starts with learning about abuse.  Why abusers do what they do, why the victims feel the way they feel, and how to get each the help they need to break their cycles.  Because we all need help to break our vicious cycles and begin new virtuous cycles.  And though it is hard, it is worth it to no longer carry the chains of generational abuse anymore.

Thanks for reading today.  On Monday I hope to address the various ways people in the world think.  And have a few more blogs in the buffer so that this will be much more efficient.  Until then I'm Jayrod Garrett, the First OG with a question for you:

Antwone FisherJoyce MeyerCarlos Santana

Are you a cycle breaker?


  1. Excellent post Jayrod. Under stress, we rarely do what we wish we'd do, we do what we know. If what we know is inappropriate, then we tend to act that out. Good for you in making a conscious decision to stop it. My father made the same choice.

    1. And I can see the fruit of his decision Donna. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. A lighter side of this is depicted by an old T.V. show, "The Honeymooners".

    1. Indeed. I remember when I was little laughing at that show, because I didn't know any better and now I see it as propaganda for a way of life I shun.

  3. Lovely, intro-(and extra-)spective post, Jayrod. It's so hard sometimes to realize how we are affecting others in our lives when our hearts are clouded by the pain of our pasts combined with the triggers of the present.

    You're right that there is a serial pattern to abuse. And worse, those who survive it, often take years to understand how wounded they truly are. Sadly some never realize that the problem (the damage) is their own. They believe they are "doing great" because they aren't trapped by their parent's circumstances, but they tend to look only at the visible things (both parents may be home versus a single-parent home, or there is a stable income, or... well, you know).

    I'm not sure how much you've read of Shan's posts on her Unfettered Life Blog, but there are some pages where she talks about breaking the cycle as well. (And the grief she is receiving from her own family for being brave enough to do it.) I can speak from experience there... Beyond my own cycle of abuse that I realized I was starting to take out on my son and needed to break free from, I saw plenty of the abuse Shan suffered because we were friends pretty much all through school.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is that YES, you CAN break the cycle. And the big reason you can is because you recognize it for what it is and want with all your heart to be an unbroken human being, Jayrod. Which is cool, because you are definitely worth it.

    1. I haven't had the opportunity to read more of her blog, but I'll be certain to drop in and get some tips from her. I know I'll probably write about this in another venue as time goes on, and try and express some of the general fears as well as my own.

      I'm so glad that both you and Shan were able to break the cycles for yourselves and your families. You are both worth it too. And I'm thankful for the opportunity to know you both. It is your successful struggles that persuade me to tarry on with my own. Because there is hope. Thank you.

  4. I'm sorry you were hurt, Jayrod, and admire you for facing the situation head on, and for writing about it.

    1. Thanks Lady Driscoll. This was one of the harder blogs to write, that is for sure.


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