It is especially important to assist those who are vulnerable and incapable to speak for themselves. ”Children don’t know how to ask for help until it is too late for them. Remember they are very scared and have very small voices,” she says. The same goes for animals and the environment, which have no voices of their own but are totally reliant on human care.
According to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, abuse involves either “physical maltreatment or language that condemns or vilifies usually unjustly, intemperately, and angrily”. In terms of environmental abuse, writer Laura du Toit says it is inexcusable as it is the proverbial biting the hand that feeds us. It entails the contamination of the environment by human activities. Any action that leaves the environment in a state which is worse than it was is a form of abuse.
The impact of abuse can last a lifetime
While abuse may or may not be immediately visible, it can have very bad consequences for children, families, and society that last lifetimes, if not generations, according to the Child Welfare Information Gateway. Too often it occurs that abused victims lose not only their dignity, but they also lose their sense of self-worth and purpose altogether. They, whether human, animal or environment, fall into a downward spiral which leaves them in a state of regression as a result. It is because of this that the rest of society has the responsibility to take action on their behalf.
Society has to remember that they should speak up for those who are incapable to speak for themselves, quite often not because they are scared, but because they are unable to either recognise the fact that they deserve better treatment or simply because they don’t know how to handle the situation.
"There’s a phrase, ‘the elephant in the living room’, which purports to describe what it's like to live with a drug addict, an alcoholic, an abuser. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, ‘How could you let such a business go on for so many years? Didn't you see the elephant in the living room?’
Moreover, it's so hard for anyone living in a more normal situation to understand the answer that comes closest to the truth; ‘I'm sorry, but it was there when I moved in. I didn't know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.’ There comes an aha-moment for some folks - the lucky ones - when they suddenly recognize the difference," according to author Stephen King.
We all have to fight the monster that is abuse
Recently, Sappi, Childline and the NSPCA started the campaign Abuse is Abuse in an attempt to raise awareness about abuse – whether in the form of human, animal or environmental abuse. These organisations share the belief that the environment, children and animals are three of the most precious things in society, and should therefore be protected and respected. “Fighting against the monster that is abuse is a responsibility that we all share,” says Christine Kuch, PR and Media Liaison at the NSPCA. “It is necessary that we become the voices on behalf of those who have no voice, the fighters on behalf of those who were silenced and cannot fight for themselves.”
The most important thing is that abuse is wrong, no matter what form it takes, and society has the responsibility to speak up on behalf all those who aren’t capable to do so – for whatever reason.
“All of us as citizens and animal lovers always need to keep our eyes and ears open to situations around us... If you ever fear any kind of abuse, don’t turn the other cheek, but call the proper authorities. It is always better to rather be safe than sorry.” This is according to Susan Lee, animal welfare expert at Pet Channel.
For more information go to www.stopabuse.co.za