When you hear the word “abuse”, what kind of person do you think of? Do you picture a male, often a big burly sort who doesn’t like to be told what to do? The truth is that abuse can come from anyone. Sometimes others will brush aside concerns due to the abuser in question not fitting society’s mold of what an abuser looks like. Men who even mention that their wives are behaving abusively are laughed at and told to “man up”, siblings “always fight”, and teenagers are just being “rebellious” or “hormonal”. These complaints get brushed aside and the one being abused is forced to suffer in silence or be ridiculed by those around them. So they do so, often for years.
What we fail to see is that abuse isn’t about a look, it’s about actions. If a big burly man acted in the same way, we would call it abuse. So why is it any different when the abuser doesn’t fit the physical mold? It isn’t. But we as a society enjoy teasing others about any perceived weakness and are often unaware of the repercussions that our jests produce.
This is where the “Big, Burly Man Test” comes into play. Rather than dismissing others concerns, ask yourself, would you consider these actions abusive if they were done by a big, burly man? If the answer is yes, try to recognize that the person you are speaking with is likely hiding a great deal of pain on a daily basis and has not expressed the situation fully. It is difficult to tell someone that you are being hurt by a person that may be perceived as weaker than you—simply, it makes them look bad and no one wants to admit to that. Do not brush these cares aside and understand the courage that is takes for the person to mention it at all. Be supportive and help them to figure out a way to resolve the issues they are experiencing, whether this is done by achieving a behavior change in the abuser or by limiting their contact with them. Do not ignore abuse simply due to it coming from an unlikely source.
Abusers can come in all shapes and sizes, any sexual orientation, and any age. Instead of relying on physical appearance to judge a situation, consider their behavior, what they say, or these red flags. You may also research the 13 Abusive Personality Types to better understand the typical patterns and expressions that an abuser will exhibit. A person’s behavior patterns will always be a far better indicator of abusive tendencies than how they may look. When in doubt, use the Big, Burly Man test.
When in the midst of an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.
Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!
Author Bio - Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information, you may find her Linkedin profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kasiakraut/