Tackling abuse: Turn yourself into a Grey Rock? - GulfToday

Tackling abuse: Turn yourself into a Grey Rock?

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.

Domestic Violence

Illustrative image.

Early last week someone sent me an article on how to deal with an abuser. It was written by someone who apparently knew a thing or two about psychology but I didn’t agree with any of the methods described.

Now an abuser can be your spouse, parent, child, partner, sibling or employer. But unfortunately, not everyone knows they are being abused.

Typically, abusers tend to have just one person in their crosshairs at any one time. Inexplicably, their focus shifts from one target to the next but oddly enough it’s the same group that is in their line of fire.

Just so we can recognise it, we should provide examples of what abuse might look like. Firstly, it does not necessarily mean it’s physical in nature, although that is the form that is so readily recognisable, presumably from the cuts, bruises and broken body parts that might be visible on the abusee who, often, refuses to explain their origin. Then there is abusive behaviour that is not completely violent, although some sort of physical behaviour might be involved, but a lot of the time it’s not violent at all.

Physical abuse involves some kind of violence on the body. It could be hitting, kicking, throwing things at someone or getting up close to someone’s face during an episode.

But the non-physical kind is an assault on the mind. It could be forcing someone to sit in the dark most of the day and night by purposely turning the lights off when the victim turns it on again. It could be swearing at someone, name calling and making threats. At work, it will either be subtle or full blown and I’ll explain how in a moment.

Examples of domestic abuse include not letting someone sleep at night by making noises, letting their mobile ring and using its built-in torch to light up the room. It could include loudly opening and closing doors and drawers and moving around noisily to create a ruckus. It can even be talking loudly at someone while they try to sleep at night.

This abuse can extend to meal times in the form of harassment and talking at them or behind their back but within earshot thereby not letting them eat in peace.

Like a crazy, broken record, they’ll have a go at someone for no real reason and when questioned why they are doing so, they have no answer.

Abuse involves lying about them to their face and denying their own abusive behaviour

They will bang things about in their presence and slam doors just to shake them up. Or they’ll throw their victim’s belongings about the room, sometimes even breaking furniture in the process.

When they are called on it they will try to justify their abusive behaviour and even swear on their holy book that it is they who are being abused and harassed by their abusee.

At work, abuse can be of a different kinds. It’s a bit like bullying and a lot like taking advantage of a co-worker’s or employee’s vulnerabilities. For example, making employees wait longer than usual for their monthly salaries. Making employees work long hours even when there is no deadline looming. Not providing basic facilities such as drinking water, washroom facilities or somewhere clean and hygienic to eat. In fact, it might even be making employees work through lunch, have a late lunch or just disturbing employees’ lunchtime with work related issues, especially if the issue is well above their paygrade. It could also be withholding vital information that could affect the work they are doing or belittling them during appraisals. Or excluding them from meetings and emails.

So how does one deal with an abuser? More to the point, who should one focus on dealing with? Do you try to ‘train’ your abuser not to focus on you and move on or do you train yourself not to let their bad behaviour get to you?

This is where the article I was sent comes in. As I explained above, I didn’t agree with the method at all. It’s called the ‘grey rock’ method in that the person being abused becomes a grey rock. It entails a list of strategies that the abusee employs but it’s hard to tell if these methods are to change the abuser’s behaviour or that of the victim.

It says things like limit interaction with your abuser even if they are talking to you. Give short and direct answers to their questions. If possible limit verbal interaction and try to stick to emails or WhatsApp to relay information. Don’t argue back or try to tell the abuser what they’re doing. There’s a spate of advice like this but I guarantee that none of it helps the abusee.

Further, it doesn’t deter the abuser from continuing to abuse his victim. In fact, it actually aggravates him because he now feels he is being ignored by some wannabee clever clog who’s playing psychological games with him.

Abusers are angry by nature but in previous years that anger might have been dampened by external distractions, such as work. Or they are on some kind of medication whose side effects are many and one of which might be extreme and unreasonable anger.

My advice is to try the grey rock method but I will tell you that for the person who sent me the article, this method is not working at all.

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