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Overuse of word 'abuse'

(28 Posts)
winterwhite Wed 24-Oct-18 19:21:08

If there has already been a thread about this I have missed it.

It seems to me that the word abuse is now being used to describe quite transient incidents when, say, 'insult' would be a more appropriate word. And this has grown over the past few years. Abuse I would say is a sustained misuse of power, and we need a word for that which isn't diluted by being applied too widely. Of course I do not mean that I condone rude or insensitive comments or behaviour, but I don't think matters are helped by such strong language in return.

Fennel Wed 24-Oct-18 20:55:25

I agree with you 100% winterwhite.
It's a very big subject - I'm too tired to add any more at the moment.

silverlining48 Thu 25-Oct-18 06:31:47

Am with you completely winterwhite.

Jangran99 Thu 25-Oct-18 06:44:55

I also agree, and suggest the same thing has happened with the word 'bullying ' being applied to a single incident.

BlueBelle Thu 25-Oct-18 07:57:21

I too agree, wolf whistles are not abuse nor are many things that are described as abusive it totally dilutes real abuse and real bullying which is horrible

Grampie Thu 25-Oct-18 10:18:58

I’m devastated by the over use and abuse of that word abuse.

harrysgran Thu 25-Oct-18 10:21:13

Totally agree abuse and bullying are both over used and detract and dilute the real use of the word

vickymeldrew Thu 25-Oct-18 10:24:59

Absolutely agree that this word is debased by over-use. However, I think it’s all part of the culture which refers to ‘heroes’ when people clearly are not in the true meaning of the word, and don’t get me started on ‘110 percent’ !

anitamp1 Thu 25-Oct-18 10:57:15

I agree. The word is used to cover a huge range of issues, some of which clearly are very serious but some seem quite minor. Also can't help thinking the term PTSD is overused. Don't want to minimise the distress experienced by a woman who perhaps has been assaulted many many years ago, but hardly seems comparable to soldiers who have been through dreadful experiences. And I find the expression 'survivor' used in connection with all unpleasant experiences detracts from how the word used to be used - as in survivor of life threatening situation. Sorry, end of rant. Getting to be a grumpy old woman!

Nonnie Thu 25-Oct-18 11:39:51

I do agree.

I have often asked what is 'sexual abuse' or 'sexual harassment' as it sometimes seems to be as little as a man putting his hand on a woman's knee which to me is only rather annoying.

I wouldn't like to go back to the standards of my youth but I do ask myself sometimes why young women today who have so much more in terms of equality etc seem to be such wimps about things my generation shrugged off. We had non-verbal ways of saying 'back off', verbal ways and, on occasion, physical ways. I think there was a time when a man who had paid for dinners etc thought he was entitled to a return on his investment but I never had difficulty in letting him know he was wrong and I was very shy!

A week or two ago I heard a trailer for a radio programme where a young sounding woman said that "every time I have been sexually harassed it was from a nice man" or something similar. I wondered a) what she had done to make so many men harass her or b) what did she mean by harassment as I don't think many men go round deliberately or accidentally harassing people.

anitamp1 Thu 25-Oct-18 11:56:44

Nonnie. Agree with you. When I was 16 a married man, who was a neighbour, tried to kiss me when I had been babysitting for his children. I was very shy and naive and yet it didnt traumatise me, I just never babysat for him again. Again, dont want to minimise serious incidents, but i do wonder if some women today are being a bit precious. Continued sexual harrassment by an individual in any setting is abhorrent and must be addressed. But a drunken pass by a man, whilst unpleasant and wrong, is a different issue.

mabon1 Thu 25-Oct-18 12:24:20

I agree. Also many people say they are stressed when they might mean tired or busy.

keffie Thu 25-Oct-18 13:58:48

Anitampl if you have never experienced domestic violence and all the implications that come with it then you won't get why the majority of women are diagnosed with PTSD are.

I am one of those women! The aftermath of abuse doesn't go. Even years later. We live with the aftermath all our lives. Its been 18 years since I finally took my 4 and fled.

I grew up with violence in our niace professional middle class home. I recreated it in adulthood with the ex. I was with 16 years before I finally left.

I still live with the aftermath with my health even though I have built a new happy life. I still have nightmares and various connected.

You have no idea of the long term affects. It's not just PTSD women like myself are diagnosed with. It's an umbrella term for the type of physiological conditions that come with it. I also have physical conditions linked to the PTSD too. Fibromyalgia/CFS also known CFS as M.E through to brief it.

If a person has cancer you wouldn't say oh your cancer is worse than their cancer. Yours cant be treated. Theres can't be. Same applies. Comparing the illness is unfair

I am very glad you havent experienced it cos if you had you wouldn't be saying it.


However I do agree there are alot of words that are overused. Someone who has toxic behaviour seen a to be getting labelled a narcastic now all the time. They can't just be a twat now. That is a word that is over used

Nonnie Thu 25-Oct-18 15:06:38

Keffie I think you misunderstand Anitampl. I don't think she is dismissing PTSD at all, quite the opposite, she is saying people use it when it is not genuine.

grumppa Thu 25-Oct-18 15:14:21

I agree entirely. It has become a catch-all word.

Overthehills Thu 25-Oct-18 15:33:38

I think Anitampl was trying to make the point that, because words or acronyms get overused and misused, people who really are victims are having their problems diluted. No one would deny the trauma you have suffered and are suffering Keffie and we don’t want it downplayed. flowers

anitamp1 Thu 25-Oct-18 15:49:35

Keffie. I apologise if I offended you. I certainly was not dismissing PTSD as a serious genuine illness, which can affect people in all walks of life. Quite the opposite. What I was trying to say is I think sometimes words are used too freely by some, with the result that the words lose their impact, which is unfair to people who are deeply traumatised by an experience. And I don't want complacency towards people who genuinely need help and support. I'm on your side.
Thanks Nonnie for your comment.

Daisyboots Thu 25-Oct-18 16:26:52

Keffie I feel for you as my DH has PTSD and I find it surprising how many people don't really believe that it is real. Yes people can say your cancer isnt as bad as X's. I am a cancer survivor and have been told this on several occasions simply because I have survived and X Y or Z didnt.
The use of abuse is far too prevalent these days.

knspol Thu 25-Oct-18 18:43:03

Totally agree with overuse of these words/terms. They are thrown around too readily and detract from serious events which really are abuse and may lead to PTSD.
Really fail to see how a man putting his hand on a woman's knee many years ago warrants the term abuse. Although these minor things shouldn't happen why oh why are today's women apparently unable to deal with them?

icanhandthemback Thu 25-Oct-18 19:51:53

I agree. I think I might have even cautioned on GN into inflating bad behaviour to the level of abuse. Bad behaviour is not acceptable and should be addressed but I think we have to be careful that the more evocative word of "Abuse" doesn't become so common place we start to ignore it.

PECS Thu 25-Oct-18 20:52:09

We are beginning to be a society that regularly over uses and misuses language.

My personal bugbear is the overuse of the word DISGUSTING! Often used to describe anti-social behaviour, poor service in shops/restaurants etc. when ' rude' or 'annoying' would have been more appropriate.

I call it 'soap opera' or 'reality TV' behaviour. So many people , most of us, live fairly ordinary mundane lives compared to the dramatic ups and downs in storylines in soaps from EastEnders to the Archers. We seem to be keen to make our lives more exciting so we overreact, & try to make things sound more dramatic than they really are. One way is to use more dramatic language and to over-exaggerate situations. Sadly this also acts to undermine those in genuinely dreadful situations.

Lilyflower Fri 26-Oct-18 06:24:29

The over dramatic language is connected with creating a victim culture. Victims have to be supported (and patronised and manipulated) by ‘kindly’ persons, who, in reality, are more truly concerned with their own virtuous appearance and influence. Victims lack volition and, once labelled, can be pitied and ignored.

Resilience, intelligence, common sense and independence of thought and action can arm many against the knocks of life.

Of course, I do not say that there are not real victims of real abuse and they certainly deserve sympathy and help. But this snowflake atmosphere of faux, self identifying victimhood does neither individual nor society any good.

Luckygirl Fri 26-Oct-18 08:48:54

Grampie grin

I am in agreement that this word is over-used.

It is interesting that this sort of language and the creation of victims where there are none goes hand in hand with the buzz word of " resilience|" that is something we are told we must all develop. It is a quality sadly lacking in some; and our culture at the same time encourages its development whilst also using the word abuse for trivial things.

I am not in any way diminishing the effect of small cumulative incidents by someone with power over someone without - e.g. in a work setting - that is abuse. But a drunken pass or a wolf whistle are things that we all have had to deal with without creating a drama.

I am glad I am not a man - I would be scared to smile at a woman!

PECS Fri 26-Oct-18 09:34:06

lilyflower Whilst I can agree with some of your sentiments and thinking are you not contributing to the idea of victims by using the perjorative term "snowflake" ?

Nonnie Fri 26-Oct-18 10:22:26

PECS I don't agree I think lily was right. What word would you use to describe "faux, self identifying victimhood"