It has been recommended, at least once, that I not talk about abuse, as a small business owner. After all, people don’t want to hear about that. Skincare/beauty brands are supposed to be all about light, beauty, happiness, fulfillment, etc., and that’s not what abuse is about. Abuse is the opposite of all that. It’s darkness and misery and, in most of us, it only creates feelings of darkness and misery.
So, why do I talk about abuse, especially as a small business owner?
Because it matters.
It matters in general, it matters to several of my friends/fans, and it matters to me. I want to build my brand to epic heights. I want people to replace their personal care products, wax melts, room sprays, essential oils, etc. and immediately think of my products as the ones to buy. Experts say that you should stay away from heavy subjects if you want to accomplish that goal; but, I don’t want to wait until I’m a millionaire to start talking about things that matter again. It’s a catch-22, I know. On the one hand, you’re supposed to wait until you’ve gone big because people don’t want to hear about heavy subjects and, thus, may shun you and your brand if you violate that expectation. On the other hand, many of the same people are all too proud to hear about the same subjects from famous people. Those that aren’t entirely pleased to hear it are complaining because said famous people waited so long to talk about it. If it really matters to them, they should have talked about it before they were rich and famous, or so I’ve seen it said on social media.
So, here’s my position: Some brands focus on cancer and/or heart disease, some focus on veterans, some focus on animal welfare and the vegan lifestyle, etc. In a way, my focus is part of all of the above, because abuse is involved in all of the above.
Extreme and/or prolonged stress creates and/or exacerbates illnesses, both minor and chronic–including cancer and heart disease. Abuse leads to PTSD, which mirrors the PTSD of veterans. Yes, I have discussed my PTSD with veterans. The biggest takeaway from one such conversation was that his nightmares were about the hands, faces, and voices of dead comrades, while mine were about the hands, faces, and voices of former classmates who are still alive. The focus on animal welfare usually centers around animals being abused, be it by forcing them to live their lives in extremely cramped spaces, by physically abusing them on their way to being slaughtered, or by using them for medical or cosmetic testing.
In addressing peer abuse, my primary focus is on promoting respect, even when you don’t agree with someone. You can disagree with everything that person believes in and do so respectfully. Likewise, it’s entirely possible to simultaneously support more than one demographic without putting one over another. For example, I believe it’s shameful that anyone should need help and be unable to receive it, particularly due to a line on a piece of paper. A veteran is homeless and can’t get help because s/he didn’t serve in a qualifying war. A non-veteran is homeless and can’t get help because s/he isn’t a veteran, or because he is male, or because s/he doesn’t have kids, or because s/he doesn’t have a qualifying disability, etc. A person is toeing the line on homelessness or going hungry, but can’t get help because s/he isn’t homeless yet and/or because s/he makes a few dollars too much per month. An abuse victim can’t get help because he’s male, because it wasn’t dating violence or adult-on-child abuse, or because what s/he went through was “only” sexual harassment. Where’s the justice in that? Even in referring to sexual abuse, we use the terms “harassment” and “abuse.” If harassment isn’t abuse, what is it? The short answer is that it is abuse. Harassment is verbal abuse, while battery is physical abuse. Both are psychological abuse.
Abuse literally formed the foundation of my life–my child and teen years–and even carried over into my 20s. It’s a virtual cornerstone of our society, from what we acknowledge as abuse to what we dismiss because it would mean changing our own attitudes. It’s 90%+ of every political campaign process, most discussions on any major social subject, and the larger part of how we interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. It’s everywhere, and in everything–even discussions on movies… I spent more than a decade, working as an anti-abuse advocate on the subject of peer sexual abuse in high schools–pre #MeToo or #MeTooK12 movements.
Now that I’m building an unrelated small business, I could probably stop discussing abuse, if I try really, really hard; but, why should I? Why should anyone? Issues don’t stop being issues, just because we refuse to talk about them. They only get worse. I hope you can stick with me through the more difficult posts. If you want to talk about your own experiences with abuse and/or ask polite, genuine questions, you’re welcome to. If you would rather scroll on by and only look at my posts about personal care products, home/office products, food recipes, recycling, fitness, etc., that’s ok too.