First up, a quick lesson in hashtags and trending topics. On Twitter a lot of the 140-character tweets are finished with a hashtag, with it’s # the hashtag will often be the punchline to your joke, a sarcastic add on or categorize and add a subject to your tweet so like-minded tweeters can find you too.

Sometimes hashtag games spring up, and become trending topics. For example right now a popular one is #dearyoungself in which someone will start their tweet with the hashtag and write a (sometimes) witty comment.

These trending topics are somewhat monitored by the powers that be at Twitter, #JustinBieber has been banned because it was trending for days on end. This can happen with a lot of pop culture references, like Twilight, Team Edward, etc. Just because they don’t need to be on our list of trending topics for days on end. Others will be banned because of their political or religious nature, over the weekend #fuckWashington was banned and in the past hashtags about marriage only being between man and woman were banned.

Over the weekend one offensive hashtag was allowed to trend for a considerable amount of time. #ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend stayed up on the trending list for a few hours, if not a whole day. I didn’t click to read the posts but I’m sure they were exactly what you’d expect and probably done by the same naive idiots that come to Chris Brown’s defense whenever he does or tweet’s something stupid(daily).

So people can’t say #FuckWashington, even though from what I gather they’ve screwed up the whole economy but #ReasonsToBeatYourGirlfriend is ok?

No, no it’s not.

1 in 4 women is a victim of abuse at some point in her life. 1 in 4. I will venture a guess that it’s much higher than that, since that’s just reported cases. I’d be so bold to say 3 in 4 and depending on whether you’re looking at just physical or also emotional and psychological, I’d almost say it’s at 4 in 4. It’s that serious.

It’s not just abuse by your boyfriend, it’s family, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, random people on the streets, etc. It’s prevalent everywhere.

But until people recognize what abuse is, then people aren’t going to realize that silly hashtag games, joking around about beating women or glorifying it in popular culture is offensive. Not just to us with uterus’s, but everyone.

What is abuse? Glad you asked, because you shouldn’t have to wait until it hits you across the face before you seek help. I wont even try to paraphrase, here’s some great information from Vancouver Coastal Health.

Types of Abuse
Any act(s) of violence or rough treatment causing injury or physical discomfort. more
Any sexual behavior directed towards a person without his/her full knowledge and consent; i.e., sexual assault, sexual harassment, or use of pornography. more
The misuse of a person’s funds and assets; obtaining property and funds without his/her knowledge and full consent, or in the case of an elderly person who is not competent, not in his/her best interests. more
Any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. more
Other forms of abuse
Medication, Violation of civil and human rights, and Spiritual. more

Regarding Psychological Abuse:

Any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.

This is sometimes called emotional abuse. Some researchers refer to it by formal terms such as “chronic verbal aggression”.

Psychological abuse can make the person feel “less of a person”. It diminishes the person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth. Abused people often find that psychological or emotional abuse is the most hurtful form of abuse. 

Psychological abuse includes behaviours such as:

  • Name calling,
  • Yelling,
  • Insulting the person,
  • Threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important to them,
  • Imitating or mocking the person,
  • Swearing at them,
  • Ignoring,
  • Isolating the person,
  • Excluding them from meaningful events or activities.

Psychological abuse also happens when the adult is excluded from decision making when the person is capable and wants to be included (in other words, “making decisions for them”), and depriving them of their rights.

Justice Canada includes these as some examples of psychological abuse: (3)

  • Threatening to use violence
  • Threatening to abandon them
  • Intentionally frightening them
  • Making them fear that they will not receive the food or care they need
  • Lying to them
  • Failing to check allegations of abuse against them
  • Insulting, swearing, or name calling
  • Making derogative or slanderous statements about them to others
  • Socially isolating them, or failing to let them have visitors

The Vancouver Coastal has some great resources for recognizing abuse and helping friends or family who may be suffering. I also highly recommend this article from Glamour.com about their Tell Somebody campaign. The stats are from the US but it’s just as important in Canada.

Admittedly, helping a friend can be tricky because you don’t know what their reaction will be, but speaking from experience, it’s important even if the results are not what you hoped for.