February 4, 2022

Verbal Abuse in Society

by Del Hungerford, March 2012

We’ve become so conditioned to verbal abuse in society that we hardly recognize it any longer!

  • What are the signs of verbal, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse?
  • What behaviors affect society negatively?
  • How do we tend to respond to various forms of abuse?
  • Why do we as a society gravitate towards conflict in movies and television?
  • Is it possible to change the attitude in which we treat one another?
  • What can we do to curb the rising attitude that allows us to “accept” abuse in society?
  • How does what we “view” affect our personal lives?

We’ll start with the most obvious; television and movies. Think for a moment about the shows you watch. Even something as innocent as HGTV can take on the form of verbal abuse. For example, I was watching an episode where a newly married husband and wife were looking for their first home. After going into one home, the wife fell in love with it and refused to look at any other houses. The husband wasn’t quite sure this was the home for them. Seeing his apprehension, she stated, “I’ll get a divorce if we can’t have this house.” Looking quite perplexed (and embarrassed), he said nothing more. Why didn’t the producers delete this scene?

Our drama unfolds:

The stage is set with music: Music throughout has degrading words about women, multiple swear words, lyrics about killing people, lyrics about hating people that may include racial slurs, and the list goes on. We may place this on our iPods, computers, vehicles, etc.

Enter: Audience. We sit on our comfy couches and watch the following “theatrical production” taking place on a daily basis…

Scene 1 – Enter downstage: presidential elections. It’s now 2012, the year of primaries for the Republican candidates. Most of the world is watching the drama unfold on how the candidates are criticizing each other. The joke’s on the US, as other countries see who will do what next. To mix in another group of characters, look at the Democrats. They, too, are getting their own jabs in. Who needs soap operas when you can watch it in real life? Maybe this is why reality TV has become so popular. Life drama has become a form of entertainment.

End of Scene 1 – Sometime in the spring of 2012, a frontrunner will emerge who will represent the Republicans. We all know what will happen next; negative advertising campaigns will begin and become relentless until the election in November of 2012. The world gets to watch these fine upstanding American citizens hurl accusations and insults for nearly six months before it all ends. Everyone will be happy again and supposedly, no one’s feelings will have been hurt. We seem to accept this kind of behavior as normal from our presidential candidates.

Scene 2 – Enter stage right: reality TV. Shows such as “Housewives of (fill in the blank)” where women who have a lot of money get to show viewers how they live and spend money. What’s most obvious about these shows is the conflict between husband and wife. In addition, the main characters have quite a bit of fighting between them, which is obviously entertaining, otherwise people wouldn’t watch.

To add to stage right are various other reality shows and sitcoms where the drama between individuals appears to be the main point. After watching interviews with lead characters, many say, “I don’t know why the producers picked that scene! It represents the worst part of me.” We, the viewers, get to see producer’s picks for various scenes. Producers put an episode together based on what they feel their “target audience” will watch. It’s the fighting and intense emotional drama that brings in the ratings. Why is this?

Scene 3 – Enter stage left: commentary news shows on all major networks and cable channels. How many times have you watched a segment where there are commentators (and guests) constantly interrupting one another? What about putting down the other person’s opinion? Some even resort to yelling. Rarely do we get to see a news commentary show where this doesn’t go on. Oh, and don’t forget the teasing and joking that appears to be friendly banter.

Scene 4 – Enter upstage: movies. Many show violence, sexually explicit scenes, and much conflict between characters. Why is it that so many movies MUST show sexually explicit scenes? Is it really necessary? Yes, we understand there’s violence in the world but it appears “glorified” in some movies, meaning violence is rampant throughout the movie. I believe we term these “action” movies. As kids, we used to call them “bang-bang-shoot-em-up” movies. What about all the swearing? We have a rating system that requires movies with swearing, violence, and sexually explicit scenes to be above a “G” rating. It’s obvious the world prefers these types of movies because there don’t appear to be that many “family friendly” movies that score high in the box office. So, Hollywood is giving us what we want.

Scene 5 – The Finale: center stage. All the characters move about covering every inch of the stage where we see a conglomeration of violence (physical abuse), verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse that has become a major part of the “stage.” The scene may focus on different parts of the stage at any given moment but it’s all there for us to watch and enjoy. It’s all about the entertainment factor.

Enter: The human psyche. “Abusive behavior” has become a part of our everyday lives through entertainment, which desensitizes us to all forms of abuse. We then begin to act out what we see and hear. When we see it in others, we blow it off or laugh about it. When we actually see abusive behavior in our own families, schools, churches, and society, we no longer recognize it as such. (See article on abusive behavior for definition.)


NEWSFLASH! If we stop watching these kinds of programs and movies, producers will stop making them. Everything is based on “supply and demand.” This includes music, movies and television.


The old saying, “Garbage in – garbage out” is very pointed and truthful. We ARE what we watch, do, see, and say. When WE make a decision to shift our paradigm of what is considered acceptable behavior, our society might change for the better. Until then, we will deal with abuses of all kinds. The more we allow abusive behavior to be a focal point of our lives, the more we become desensitized to it. The more we become desensitized to it, the more rampant it becomes around us. The cycle has begun and can only be stopped when we no longer allow it.

What part do we individually play in this cast of characters?

Are we the audience who can change what we view?

Or, are we one of the contributing characters to abuses of all kinds?

About the Author Del Hungerford

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