Suicide… the final step of dehumanization?
By: Gina Tarsi
This is a revised version of my first blog post Is Physical Violence necessary for Dehumanization? I revised my first blog because it did not have enough evidence to support it. Although I made good points about physical violence and dehumanization, I did not elaborate far enough into my argument. I added in statistics from credible sources, and I elaborated further on my counter claim.
Dehumanization is not limited to physical violence. A victim of violence suffers from fear and distress.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. According to Ditch the Label, an anti bullying organization,
“Cyber bullying is found to have catastrophic effects on the self esteem and social lives on up to 69% of young people.” This proves that seeing a bruise or scar isn’t necessary in the process of being dehumanized; being abused isn’t limited to physical scars.
A persons’ self esteem is not easily mended, and one rude comment could outweigh 100 compliments if the victim is insecure. Recovery from 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. A broken bone has the chance to return to original strength, but the victim of verbal abuse always has to worry about the pain coming back.
Some may argue that dehumanization must happen on a physical level. The logic may be that a victim’s mentality can not be changed purely by words, but physical harm must accompany these words. 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.
Another argument that may be made is that receivers of verbal violence do not suffer from any real physical pain, then what is the harm? How is it known that the victim has been affected if physical evidence is not seen? A website spreading awareness of cyber-bullying in the US stated that “Cyber-bullying victims were twice as likely to have attempted suicide compared to youth that had not experienced cyber-bullying.” Without having physical violence used cyber-bullying victims wish to end their lives. Dehumanization is apparent enough that these victims do not feel worthy enough to live. If suicide is not considered the most serious step of dehumanization, then what is?