Is Physical Violence necessary for Dehumanization?
By: Gina Tarsi
Dehumanization is not limited to physical violence. Fear and distress are two emotions that a victim of violence feels. But these emotions are not specific to physical violence, sufferers of verbal abuse also experience the same pain. Both physical and mental violence share a common thread. In physical and mental violence a threatening environment is created where the victim feels less than human.
Mental violence does not leave physical scars, but not all damage to a person is seen. When verbal abuse occurs it will begin to take a negative toll on the victim. Eventually words will sink in, and the person getting called ugly, fat, weird, or annoying will begin to believe these ¨labels¨ are who they are. Seeing a bruise or scar isn’t necessary in the process of being dehumanized; being abused isn’t limited to physical scars. Recovery for verbal abuse isn’t as simple as waiting for a bruise to go away, or wearing a cast. A recovery option for verbal abuse may be counseling. But even with professional help words resurface easily, and the memory of verbal abuse never goes away.
Some may argue that dehumanization must happen on a physical level. But violence is not always what makes the person feel less human. A person could have violence used against them, but that doesn’t immediately mean the person receiving the violence feels dehumanized. When violence is used the abuser may not be silent, during physical violence mental violence could be used as well; the two can go hand in hand.