There is a widespread abusive tactic that a lot of people don’t realize is abuse, but truly, truly is one of the worst.
That is joking.
No, I’m not joking…the abuse is joking. Now, I have a wicked sense of humor and love to laugh and have a good time. But when the humor comes at the expense of someone else, it’s not funny and those who laugh along are at fault as much as the abuser.
This is something that everyone should be aware of and make sure they are not part of the hurt the victim is feeling.
In my mind, this is one of the most insidious types of abuse, because it comes not only from the abuser, but he gets everyone else to laugh along. He has an entertained, appreciative audience as he abuses you! He basically has a “free abuse” card that he can pull out like a magic show and entertain others, at your expense. And he does enjoy it!
He doesn’t limit his abusive comments to just his significant other…he spreads it around. He will pick on the children, other family members and even those he considers “friends”. If he knows it is bothering you, he will keep it up, especially if he’s getting laughs. If you stick up for yourself, he will say you can’t take a joke, you’re a spoil-sport, you should know he’s just kidding, you’re just grouchy.
And that, in turn, continues the victimization. It’s your fault you aren’t laughing along at his abuse. He’s verbally and emotionally abusing you but it’s your fault that you don’t find it funny.
Yes, this touches a sore spot with me. I was a victim for years of this type of abuse, not from my abusive husband, but from another family member. He would actually verbally abuse me and then add, “Oh, I better watch, or I’ll make you cry.” Very sarcastically, of course. And he did make me cry, just about every day when I was a child. He was constantly humiliating me.
That is his goal all along, to beat you down emotionally by insulting you in a “funny” way. But you aren’t laughing.
It was so frustrating that no one stuck up for me. No one told him to stop. No one stepped in and comforted me when I was crying. Why? Because to them it was no big deal. They said it was “John*, being John”. “That’s just the way he is.” I “shouldn’t take it personally.”
But I DID take it personally! It was ME he was insulting. It was ME that was being made a fool of in front of everyone. Oh, how they laughed as he insulted me! How they joined in when he called me names and made fun of everything from the way I looked, to the clothes I would wear, to everything about me.
People like this are so self-centered, obnoxious and insecure, they will do anything for a laugh or to make themselves feel superior. They need to be called out and exposed for the abusers they are. And we all need to be aware that insulting others is not joking, it’s abuse, it’s bullying, and we need to not only stop laughing about it, but we need to stop it in its tracks by calling out the abuser for what he is…an abuser.
*John wasn’t his real name.