14 June 2016
The manner in which traumatised people are treated in our society has remained unresolved. We often try to suppress emotions instead of addressing the cause.
Take for example, a rape victim. We are often very sorry for rape victims, and we end up treating them somewhat different and more often than not with a sense of pity, or worse, we consider them damaged. Even when they behave normal, we assume they are only pretending.
By doing any of the aforementioned, we highlight the memory of the trauma to the victim in a way that they begin to consider it unresolved.
An example of how we aid the retention of traumatic memories by stigmatisation can be seen in parental use of violence against children.
In societies where children are considered precious cargo and the notion of beating a child is suggestive of abuse, children that do get beaten are likely to internalise the event, painting their parents as sick in the mind, wicked, or other such colours to portray a lack of love and care.
On the flip side however, societies that encourage parents to use violence under the guise of discipline end up with children who hold no grudge against parental beating because it is normal to them since there is no one to tell them how they weren’t loved because they were beaten.
In fact, Nigerian young adults today will brag about how they were beaten as children and refer to their mates who didn’t receive any slaps as ‘butti’ or ‘spoilt’.
It isn’t also unheard of for people in societies that don’t stigmatise being physical with children to say that they too must beat their children to keep them in line.
For victims of traumatic experiences, it will be of utmost benefit if they are aware of how people around them encourage their wallow in negative emotions by stigmatising them constantly.
With this knowledge they can start telling people around them to make an effort towards treating them as they treat everyone else instead of constantly giving them special treatment.
It doesn’t really matter if we consider the treatment we give victims of traumatic experiences to be special, what matters is to treat them as we treat others.
People only want to be treated special for something positive, not as a result of pity. Sometimes, even successful people want to be treated normally so that they can feel like everyone else.
So if you know someone who has been a victim of anything that causes stigmatisation, the best way to help is to treat him or her normally instead of treating him or her special.
And if you suffer stigmatisation, be sure to communicate to the people closest to you that you would rather be treated like everyone else, not special.