Posted in Life

Domestic Violence: How aware are we? PT 1: Emotional Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In an attempt to provide a conceptual framework of what abuse actually is, and how to identify it, I will be writing a post on each aspect of what encompasses abuse.  Abuse is so much more than a man putting his hands on a woman he supposedly loves; while physical abuse is the most conspicuous, there are other types of abuse that are far more nefarious. Today, we will discuss Emotional Abuse which is far more traumatic and the staggering effects can last for years after the relationship has ended.

What is Domestic Violence?

Before we get into it, I would like to preface that Domestic Violence is an archaic term because it spans gender only.  A man could be abused by the woman he loves.  The violence can occur in a homosexual relationship as well and therefore we must abandon the concept that it is a “man whose being abusive to his female partner.”  An abuser can be anyone, any sex or gender.  Period!  Once we unlearn that stereotypical scenario, it is only fitting to refer to “Domestic Violence” as “Intimate Partner Violence.

Now that this has been established, please note that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has classified Intimate Partner Violence as a disease.  The CDC cites:

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.

CDC’s research and programs work to understand the problem of intimate partner violence and prevent it before it begins.

For more information on the CDC cite, please click -> Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

 

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

This old proverb stands true beyond what we can comprehend when it comes to Intimate Partner Violence.  It also begs the question, “how can we prevent it?”  Well, the first step to addressing a problem is to identify it.  How can we change something if we do not know what it is?  When we think about how once humans identified the existence of germs and understood if we didn’t wash our hands, we could be infected, the same concept can be applied to Intimate Partner Violence.  When we put it that way, it make sense why it is listed on the CDC as a disease.  It can be prevented in all its forms, if we all understand what it is and expand our understanding beyond a person physically assaulting another person.  It can also be contagious.  We will discuss that at the end of the series.

Identifying Emotional Abuse

  • Being put down
  • Making you feel bad about yourself
  • Being called names
  • Playing mind games
  • Making you feel guilty
  • Humiliation
  • Questioning your identity
  • Reinforcing internalized phobias and “isms”

In my opinion, the last two bullet points should have their own category because if we find ourselves questioning our identity and reinforcing internalized phobias, it is a tactic called “GASLIGHTING.”   – click to learn more. 

I will attempt to make this post as short as possible, but to give you a quick bullet point synopsis from Psychology Today

Gaslighting Symptoms:

1. They tell blatant lies.

 

“It wasn’t me you saw”

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

“That’s not me on the video”

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

“Your mom was right about you.”

4. They wear you down over time.

” I’m the only one who really cares.  I’m all you have.”

5. Their actions do not match their words.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.  I’ll never do it again.”

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

“After being called horrific names, you are told you are the best thing that ever happened to them.”

7. They know confusion weakens people.

The amount of effort and energy spent seeking some way to please or gain stability in the dysfunction is exhausting and eventually the exhaustion can turn into surrender.

8. They project.

“You’re cheating on me.  You’re lying to me.  You’re so disloyal”  – but it’s actually them.

9. They try to align people against you.

“See what I have to go through.  There’s always drama with him/her.  She/he always ruins the moment.”

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

“He/she is always paranoid about what I’m doing.  She/he is just crazy.”

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

“They are all just jealous.  They don’t want to see us happy.”

Abusers will often use intimate details we have disclosed to them against us to hurt us or disarm us in an argument without remorse.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

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It is a natural reaction to attempt to modify our behavior to circumvent an abusive incident.  We may attempt to identify their triggers because we believe that if we are proactive and learn to walk on egg shells or avoid doing what set them off, then it won’t happen again.  As we continue to do this to no avail, we exhaust ourselves and somehow feel like a failure.

It is a natural reaction to attempt to modify our behavior to circumvent an abusive incident.  We may attempt to identify their triggers because we believe that if we are proactive and learn to walk on egg shells or avoid doing what set them off, then it won’t happen again.  As we continue to do this to no avail, we exhaust ourselves and somehow feel like a failure.

We CANNOT “fix” anyone or “make” them do anything.

We are not responsible for the behavior of others.  Just because we love someone does not mean we must endure this behavior. If you would like more information on EMOTIONAL ABUSE, please see the links below that I have provided.  If you have the time, please read.  This information can be a matter of life and death, if not for you,… perhaps someone you know.  Knowing is half the battle.

Forms of Emotional and Verbal Abuse You May Be Overlooking

National Domestic Violence Hotline

What is Gaslighting?

Insidious Goals of Gaslighting

When Is It Emotional Abuse?

Contagion of Violence: Workshop Summary

If you or someone you know are in an emotionally abusive relationship, please visit the National Domestic Hotline or call 800-799-SAFE (7233).  This national organization is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can speak in confidence and they can provide you with a wealth of information.  Whether it is for you or someone else you know, please understand there is help out there and you are not alone.

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Just a girl in the world experiencing, observing and appreciating this journey called life one moment at a time.

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