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Bullying Families
by Alexandra Pereira
2007-10-19 09:58:40
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Verbal, emotional and physical violence, abuse, self-esteem attacks and bullying behaviors in families are undeniably a crime. Undeniably? It depends… as much as human rights depend on something. Many European countries – especially in the Mediterranean, where most abuses are justified as long as they occur inside a family, that kind of over-protected social “capsule”… – don’t concern much about such issues.

They have no hotlines nor support institutions (or have ghost-institutions which don’t work as they were supposed to) and, worse than that, the society as a whole seems to believe in this ideology according to which what happens inside a family should be solved inside it as well, with no external interference whatsoever and as much silence as possible around it. Perhaps this is an ultimate evidence of the catholic “sacred family” unconscious influence and an evidence of redemption through sacrifice as well?

“Against your family you should not fight nor plea, what a shameful thing to do…”, the social walls echo around the braver and more lonely individuals, who then become completely ostracized. This “blood of your blood” biological logic legitimates so many injustices still, as if one would be forced to bear any kind of violence, abuse or insult just because he/she was randomly born in a given family or group of people, who happen to be destructive towards one member of the group, the scapegoat, on whom they project all their bad aspects, thoughts and feelings, hence getting rid of them by means of a pathological way of functioning, which is the only one they will ever know. The “family-capsule” logic thus overcomes the democratic logic, something to worry about.

Berber and Arabian heritages should have had their influence as well. Though, traditionally, in Arabian culture different people are all considered a brotherhood and equal human beings among themselves, and power is faced as corrupting those who use it, in practical terms blood or belonging “families” (either genetic or extended) play an essential role anyway, mostly in the affirmation of the privileged over the poor, the men over the women and the faithful ones over the unfaithful people.

The powerless feeling is inevitably related with abuse of power from someone else. When a group martyrizes an individual, poles are not balanced and the situation is unfair (to say the truth, it is sometimes dehuman enough when groups fight between them… so an individual against a group is something cruel). Nevertheless, some still somehow believe that if such unfairness systematically occurs inside a family, then it is forgivable and understandable because you should relate with your family so you can be considered a “normal” human being in a given society. In certain cases, though, the price of being considered “normal” is equivalent to accept being massacred and destroyed. Is it more “normal” for a blood or belonging family to destroy an individual? Should the group be always right, the “natural” group, for as aggressive as it is? Intriguing questions…

His/her relation to family is supposed so signal the level of adequacy of an individual in some societies. And this common sense belief isn’t completely unwise, except when it assumes the form of a blood family dictatorship (when it can only accept the individual if he keeps relating with blood family, for as destructive as such relation is for him), or when it legitimates obvious or unapparent bullying from origin family as if a “natural” thing to bear, as genes for example, or a kind of pre-established faith to which the individual must be subdued to. Higher levels of hypocrisy are hard to imagine, although some societies as a whole seem blind to them.

Bullying families are one of the most disastrous social problems that modern societies have to face and solve. If they cannot solve it, they cannot be called modern societies, since they will keep presenting a fundamental human rights’ deficit.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-10-19 10:19:01
Interesting thought provoking piece, Alexandra. It occurs to me that in the year 70 AD to be modern meant to be a Roman citizen. Rome considered itself the most advanced society of the Mediterranean world, albeti much of their culture was deriviative of Greek culture. I would suggest that neither the Greeks nor the Romans had any such concept as that of inalienable human rights although they had advanced concepts of freedom and political rights ganted to citizens of the State, but not to the slaves though. I suggest that the concept of inalienable human rights was introduced by the Christian idea of all of us being children of God our Father created in his own image. The sacred family belongs within that context or it makes no sense vis a vis Greco-Roman paganism alive and well in present day Europe.

Jack2007-10-20 05:42:36
I agree. Bullying families are not helpful to societies. The ripples in the pond they leave through the wake of their immediate family and their families and friends, makes others tend to be bullies also. You are often the way you are treated. Human rights should extend into the family itself, since families are the extension of society. Great points you have made in your article. Thank you.

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