Most of the time, I did not mean to cause tension or controversy. But when it happened (usually, due to the utterance of my mouth or my writings) I rode the wave. My only excuse is, I believed in what I said or wrote at that time.
One of the controversial things I had said when I was a medical student occurred in a lecture hall. I raised a question to the lecturer who was telling us about the prevalence of domestic violence and abuse in the society. I raised my hand and asked, “In your general experience, do you find that there is a stereotypical type of personality who tend to be victims of domestic violence or abuse?”
The lecturer ‘gently’ admonished me by saying, “If one hears your question, one can be forgiven to think that you are trying to blame the personality of the victim as the cause of domestic violence. When in fact, domestic violence occurs due to the violence of the perpetrator. No matter what type of personality the victim has, it shouldn’t become an issue.”
And all I could think about at that time was, darn right it should!! It SHOULD become an issue! How you allow yourself to be treated by others is an ISSUE in domestic violence and abuse! What kind of behavior you accept to be displayed around you is an ISSUE in cases of bully. How you formulate your requirements and your rules regarding the sort of person you can accept as your husband is an issue in domestic violence!
No one – I repeat NO ONE – is allowed to bully me without paying for the consequences. I will fight until I die before I let people get away from bullying me! I may not be proficient in judo or karate-do, but if I was physically threatened, I will hire those who are proficient with martial arts to give back punch by punch and kick by kick that I have received. That’s my promise.
I will lodge a police report and I will definitely sue!
Oh yes, I am vindictive!
But at the same time I can be forgiving. But that requires the person to apologize first, of course. I can’t forgive without receiving an apology.
That’s my rule.
And those who do not conform to my rule are automatically out of my life. That’s how I take charge and control the sort of person I ALLOW to hang around me. As a result, I tend not to consort with people of dubious personality, and hence no violence around me.
My point is: I didn’t – I still don’t – understand why the personality of the victim is not an issue in domestic violence. It shouldn’t be just an issue, it should be THE issue.
When I just got into standard 1, there was one kid who attempted to bully me. She asked me to go to the canteen and buy her some food. My response was “Awat saya pula yang kena pi kantin untuk awak? Awak yang nak makan.”
I did not ask that question out of my legendary rebelliousness. I asked that question because I GENUINELY did not understand WHY I should go to the canteen for her? It didn’t make sense to me. It was the sort of thing I wouldn’t ask anyone to do for me. Hence it puzzled me when I was asked to render her that service.
She thought I was rebellious. She asked the rest of our friends to boycott me. But that boycott didn’t last long. I got number one in the class that semester (Kelas 1 Rahmat, I still remember that class), and afterwards I got plenty of friends for the rest of my primary school.
Lesson number 1: people can boycott you. But if you don’t care, they can’t do anything about it. They can boycott for all they are worth until they get tired of it, but you shouldn’t ALLOW that to affect you. And when you have your own strength, you will naturally bounce back.
But what would have happened if I had given in from the very beginning? What would have happened if I had cared too much about the good opinion of others? Imagine me having to go to the canteen for her EVERYDAY just because I want to continue being among her circle of friends? The thought of it makes me shudder in distaste. But some people did do it out of peer pressure!
It comes down to personality! Are you willing to be someone else ‘budak suruhan’ just because you want to shine in her presence? Wouldn’t it be better that you go on your own and do things on your own?
Or do your own thing.
I was also taught by my father to stand up to bullies.
When I was in standard 4, a 14 years old boy punched my younger sister (Izati) in the school bus. She went crying to my father about it. My father’s solution was simple. “Esok, kak ngah (that’s me) pi bagi warning kat budak tu. Cakap kat dia, kalau dia buat lagi macam tu kat Izati, ayah akan ajar dia.”
My response was: WHATT?? Aku yang kena bagi warning kat budak tu? I wasn’t the one who got punched! Why can’t Izati deliver the warning herself? Or better yet, how about dad himself got into the bus and threaten that guy? Lagi best!
But no. Apparently it was my job as a bigger sister to teach a bigger guy than me not to mess with my younger sister. Apparently as a bigger sister, I should protect the younger one. If I didn’t do it, my sister would tell my father about it. I had no choice. Facing my father’s disappointment would be even worse than the fear of facing that guy. After all, my father had been telling me that I was brave; if I didn’t do it, I would no longer be considered brave; I didn’t want that.
So next day on the bus, I went to that guy (I had my own gang in the bus to protect me and surround me, I admit) and I delivered that warning. That guy was not really impressed with my pretense of bravery, but he never punched my sister again.
Another rule of mine is quite simple: Kau tak kacau hidup aku, aku tak kacau hidup kau. Kau kacau hidup aku sekali, aku akan bagi warning. Kau kacau kali kedua, kau siap!
Second chance is all you got! Then, that’s it!
That’s why, for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why do wives ALLOW themselves to get abused multiple times. First time can be forgiven with a warning; after all people make mistakes. The second time it happens, give them some form of punishment. Third time it happens, that’s a habit! And you should seriously consider your SELF-WORTH before you ALLOW yourself to put up with that kind of sick behavior!
When I got in Sekolah Menengah Asma from form 1 until form 3, life was really fun. It’s an all-girls school. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to behave without feeling self-conscious towards the males. It was a good life.
And then I went to MRSM Langkawi. During my time, it was a new MRSM. Hence, there was no particular tradition or rules. I was only the 3rd batch at that time. The seniors minded their own business. No roll-calls. No serious ragging. It was a happy life.
No bullying, no one screamed at you, no one tried to disturb your life. It was a rosy world all the way to prep college.
In Newcastle, I came across my benchmark of the pinnacle of extraordinary behaviour one should possess – enough said. I have made myself accustomed to only the best of behavior around me that anything unacceptable would not be tolerated. Those who behave badly will be OUT OF MY LIFE pronto!
Then I got back to Malaysia into my first posting. Imagine my shock! After all these years of never been bullied, I had to ‘tolerate’ the less- than- acceptable behavior of one or two MOs who couldn’t seem to get it in their head that I was not as deaf as they were. Only deaf people talk in screams because they seemed to think everybody is as deaf as they are. I tolerated that behavior because as a first poster, I couldn’t afford to have my own way as I didn’t know anything much. I swallowed my pride for the sake of not endangering my patients. When I would have shouted back at those snobs, I settled with answering as politely as I can. I swallowed my ego and shut my mouth.
But I am the sort of person who has to let go of whatever feelings I have! Hence, my controversial writing. :)
I am the sort of person who cannot bear injustice done towards me. It is my profound belief that only those who do not value their own pride (their MARUAH, really) would ALLOW themselves to be humiliated in front of patients, screamed at in front of the whole ward, without any repercussions. More importantly, only those who do not value their honour would think other people can tolerate how they thrash other people’s honour. If you value your honour, you will know that you should NEVER humiliate others in that manner – publicly, jeeringly, snobbishly, arrogantly. One will, of course, bear grudges! I certainly did! And I, in my own way, wanted some resolution from my internal conflict. Hence, I wrote about it. How was I to know that the article will get that much publicity?
Another rule of mine: If you don’t like being bullied, don’t bully others. If you don’t like being humiliated, don’t humiliate others. If you don’t like being screamed at, don’t scream at others. Whatever message you want to get across in screaming, you can get it across just as adequately in the normal voice pitch. In fact the pinnacle of good command in language is evidenced by one’s ability to say the worst of thing dressed in the best of words, completed in the best of manner.
So back to my question: WHY wouldn’t the personality of the victim be an issue?
Now let me list down the sort of characteristics that make up ‘The Bullied personality’:
1) Dependency towards the perpetrator
– “I love him too much. I think he will change even though this has happened 100 times” – that is, emotional dependency
– Where would I go? How would I live? – that is, financial dependency.
-If I don’t have him as husband and father to the kids, no one will have us – that is, physical dependency
2) Too desirous of the good opinion of others
-If I get divorced, what would our friends or the neighbours think?
3) Not Assertive – unable to make her requirements and her rules known.
-You can do anything to me, I will just take it. I don’t have any rules regarding how I deserve to be treated.
4) Not concerned about her honour, her pride, her self-worth
5) Afraid of being alone or going out on her own
6) Lack of will to improve the status quo because working towards a better life is harder than remaining ‘content’ with the current life.
7) She ALLOW herself to be abused – this is the ultimate characteristic of the bullied personality.
These are the common denominators of all the patients that I have seen in the casualty who presented with bruises all over their bodies secondary to the ‘loving attention’ of their ‘honourable’ husbands.
It puzzles me greatly why they did not even want to lodge a police report, most of the time. If that is not the peak of unreasonable behavior, I don’t know what else is. I had to counsel them in my most convincing tone to lodge a police report. Were I in their shoes, I would have left those bastards a long time ago.
Ultimately,OF COURSE, the blame falls on the perpetrator, regardless of the personality of the victim.
But things are not as simple as they sound. Bullies, by definition, are those who torture those who are weaker than them. They would never venture out to go against those who are stronger than they are. Most of the time they behave like cowards who would kiss the ass of the higher authority so that they wouldn’t be bullied by someone more superior than them, while at the same time they would make life difficult to those under their rule. Bullies derive great pleasure out of torturing others because it makes them feel better about their sad lives.
So that’s where the personality of the victim plays a part. If she is brave, can live on her own, can stop herself from loving a worthless man, she would never have been bullied in the first place. Bullies instinctively recognize who they can terrorize and who they cannot.
It’s up to you to develop a backbone and shirk the characteristics of ‘the bullied personality’.
You can do it!!