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Most people pay attention to the apparent violence that we see on the six oclock news. Here atrocities such as death, rape, and war are brought to our awareness and displayed in front of us, but the less visible violence is never shown. A news brief about the father who is constantly yelling at his son will never take place. This type of verbal violence is not visibly seen like physical abuse, and that is why there is much controversy over its ambiguity. Some argue that the term violence should only apply to physical abuse and not verbal, and others argue that both acts have very similar characteristics. For example, they begin as a form of aggression and lead to the intent to inflict pain or injury. The causes of the acts may be different but both display similar effects. A second characteristic is that verbal and physical abuse cause damage or harm on a person or community in such a way as demands punishment. We can see the similarities by looking at religion and history. To avoid this mental or physical hurting, we build hard shells around ourselves and create similar defense mechanisms. Taking all of these likenesses in consideration, one should accept verbal abuse as a form of violence.
The definition of the term violence is accepted as forcing a resolution of an issue against the will of another (Campfire Philosophy). This can be and, should be, split into the categories of physical and psychological abuse. The physical is caused by a weapon or hand and forces great pressure on the skin resulting in bruising, cutting, and bleeding of the body. Different examples of this include fist fighting, rape, murder, and war. Psychological violence is caused by chronic verbal aggression (Calleja 5) such as slander and slur. This appears in the form of propaganda or within verbal context.
However, there is opposition to accepting verbal abuse as a form of violence and some ?contend that the term should refer only to the deliberate infliction of physical harm. (Fried 507). When one is observing verbal abuse, it becomes apparent that it contains many of the same qualities as physical abuse.
Whether it is fist fighting or slander, both begin in the same aggressive manner and end in the intent to injure or cause pain to another. Slander and slur cause pain and injury to the emotions opposed to the body. The pain can take form in mental disorders or low self-esteem, and the victim will most likely use chronic verbal aggression in the future. As well, verbal and physical abuse both end in injury and/or pain that can consequently be long-term. A man can end up paralyzed for life because a bullet crushed his vertebra, as well, a man can end up angry and undetermined his entire life because his parents repeatedly contested to him that he was a failure. These results both are a form of pain, physical and psychological. Without tangible evidence of the mental injury, some people rebut that verbal abuse is not a form of violence. The effects of verbal abuse can only be seen through long-term psychological studies. They do not convey themselves at the time of the brutality, and make it hard for a percentage of the population to accept it as violence. Gregory Fried believes that ones view of the distinction between force and violence and between literal and metaphorical violence, is crucial when looking at violence in a broader sense (Fried 5). A force exists in verbal chronic abuse, but its violence is within the context of words. Cacophonous terminology leaves a person with a cold feeling, but how long the feeling lasts depend upon the person who they are directed to. When one is including verbal abuse within violence they can accept a metaphorical view of the force. One will also accept that both physical brutality and chronic verbal aggression can result in similar punishment.
The public generally looks toward the lawmakers to determine what the criteria of violence are. These hostile acts are usually punishable in a court of law and can result in a jail term or even death in some cases. In the present North America the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, and will not arrest anyone for speaking their mind. This free will was added to the Constitution mainly due to the censorship of the British in the 1800s. It was unlawful to use the Kings name in any negative connotation. Those who disregarded the demand were punished in prison or by death. The country was in a powerful position during the time of their decree and would not stand for the verbal attacks because they would hurt the governments reputation, and ultimately deteriorate the degree of power the country held. Furthermore, there are Americans who disagree that verbal aggression is a form of violence because the United States of America agrees that a person can say anything and not receive punishment. Instead, censorship was created. It states what is objectionable in film or printed materials, and violating censorship regulations results in the loss of a license, job, and money. This is in fact a form of punishment declaring that some context should not be publicly heard because of its sensitive issues. Racial slurs fit into this category because they can lead to hate crimes, which are very apparent in America. The violation of the guaranteed equality takes form in physical and mental abuse, and its acts and words are punishable. Even so, there are different people and cultures that still insist that hearing a few harsh will not damage a person.
To accept verbal abuse as an act of violence, one would have to accept that he himself has been or is violent. All can remember the times on the playground when name-calling was apparent. A common rebut to the name four-eyes or fat head would be sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. This statement was made to build a shell around the child, yet its validity is very weak. As children and as adults we do not want to admit that the words hurt because it is a sign of weakness. Those who do not want to include verbal abuse within the definition of violence do not want to reveal their weak spot. We have created defense mechanisms to avoid the psychological pain. These protect us from being consciously aware of a thought or feeling in which we cannot tolerate. This type of defense is used with physical violence as well. Police officers put on a bulletproof vest in order to block the firing ammunition. The vest is blocking the force of the bullet. One can compare this to a person in denial, because he is blocking the forceful psychological pain of the truth. Violence is so harmful that most people try to defend themselves from it. Most do not purposely create conflict that may lead to brutality.
In his writings, the Chinese sage Confucius criticized violence as a disruption of the proper harmony in self, society, or nature (Fried 512). His followers believed that the use of violence in a word or deed is a sign that a man is not right with himself and cannot lead properly in either familial or political relations. They disagree with all forms of violence, whether it attacks the body or the mind. The effects are not visible to the eye, which causes the debate over the ambiguity of violence. Considering that chronic verbal aggression begins, employs, and results in the same manner as physical abuse, one should be able to accept it within the term of violence. Hence, the next time verbal abuse is heard, think about the possible effects it can have on its victim.
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