I have an image of what violence and abuse is; kicking, punching, slapping, and shoving. It hurts the body, sometimes badly. In its worst form, intimate partner violence (as it’s sometimes called) leads to death.
How on earth can someone do that to another human being?
It can all be much more subtle, though. An abusive relationship might involve one partner trying to control another, such as limiting which friends you see, or when you can go out.
Why are you doing this? You weren’t like this when we first started going out!
Other tell-tale signs include insults and constant criticism, demands for sex that stop short of outright force, controlling money and limiting access to the bank account, and threats about what will happen” if you even think about leaving me.”
This is worse than I thought.
Violence and abuse can wound our hearts and mind as easily as our bodies. It can lead to dependency and feelings that we’re worthless. At its most heart-wrenching, victims might even feel as if they deserve what’s happening to them.
Oh God, what did I do to deserve this?
Sigh…Sweetie, you didn’t do one thing to bring this about, and I wish nothing more than to give you a warm blanket, a safe place to go, and all the hugs you need.
I was recently reminded by a colleague that “abuse” is, at its core, a way for the abuser to control, intimidate, and ultimately debase their victim. I wonder just how sad, how utterly self-loathing, someone might be when they treat another person that way.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233). Deaf and hard of hearing users can access the TTY line at 1.800.787.3224. They can talk to you in numerous languages.
If you think you might be in an abusive relationship – even if it’s “only” emotional mistreatment- check out thesafespace.org’s "Is this abuse?"
If anyone hurts you, or makes you feel awful about yourself, tearing you down again and again…
It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong. Get help and get out.
Good grief, isn’t life hard enough anyway?
aka Fredo on the ASHA Message Boards
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