Those of you who know me will have probably heard me explain the boiling frog analogy at great length. I love it. For all the wrong reasons. It is applicable to so many people in their daily lives. It is a part of a greater problem which needs to be tackled in society but before it can be stopped, people need to realise the situations they are in.
The original boiling frog experiment goes something like this:
There is a frog and a pot of boiling water. The frog starts the experiment outside of the pot at normal temperature. When the frog is placed into the pot it notices the sudden change in temperature and jumps back out.
There is another frog and a pot of water. This time the water is at room temperature. When the frog is placed inside the water it doesn’t react by escaping as the water is at an acceptable temperature. The water is then gradually heated but the frog does not react. In Heinzman’s experiment which is explained here, when the water was heated at a slow enough rate, the frog did not attempt to escape. Many modern scientists dispute the accuracy of the findings but due to modern day animal protection laws none have repeated the experiment. Even if the science may be flawed, the analogy is still useful for other purposes.
Great. So frogs that are placed in a pot of water either jump out or surrender to their fate and die. So what?
We all get to a point in our lives where we need to escape, whether we know it or our family and friends are telling us in despair that we cannot see the situations we are in. Take someone from a set of circumstances they find entirely acceptable and plunge them into a situation where they feel completely uncomfortable and they will react. However, in a situation where somebody’s behaviour towards a person changes, gradually becoming more abusive or controlling, many do not see the incremental changes until it is too late. The subject accepts each change as a new ‘norm’ for as long as the changes do not happen too fast or dramatically. The control could be realised through actions, money, friendships and relationships or something else . Whether the problem someone faces is physical, verbal or psychological doesn’t matter. Whether, in that moment, the person chooses to escape, does.
The moment of realisation may come for a number of reasons; a conversation with a close friend or a particularly alarming event acting as a wake up call. Even if the person realises that they are in an abusive or controlling relationship it may be difficult for them to escape. It is important for the victim to have somebody to talk to who believes what they are saying who can also provide support both throughout and after the experience.
If somebody is taking away your freedom, of thought, of money, of speech, they are in the wrong.
The most important thing is to realise what is happening before it’s too late.
NB: No frogs were harmed during the writing of this post!
The word ‘relationship’ is used throughout this article as a reference to all types of relationships.