To Abuse or Not to (Be) Abuse(d)

To many people, domestic abuse means hitting, punching, slapping, and in extreme cases, choking, stabbing, even killing.

But here's a chilling thought: emotional abuse is just as devastating.  And it can be the precursor to violence.

I saw a lot of violence in my home growing up, beatings with straps, wooden spoons, you name it.  So when I hooked up with a man who shoved me hard one night when he was mad, it was what I knew.  It took me a while to realize I had to get out -- and almost as long to do it.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, I was not alone.  Nearly one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. And, in the United States alone, 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by a partner each year, as reported by  Some even die.

Now you may think, this will never happen to me. But domestic violence is insidious. It can start out as a shove or a push, anything physical, but that's not to imply that emotional abuse is not just as destructive. 

It can be a threat or simply an insult, a degrading way of being talked to, disrespected in front of the kids. Physical abuse does not have to enter into it.  But emotional abuse is just as threatening because it eats away at you over time, and may set you up for abuse of other kinds.

 Psychologists believe that emotional abuse can also lead to chronic states of posttraumatic stress disorder, and depression, which is the most common symptom of a mentally abusive relationship, according to abuse can be just as threatening as physical abuse, because it eats away at you over time, and may set you up for dperession or even post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that many victims fall prey to has a profoundly undermining effect on their mental and emotional wellbeing,” Sabrina Bachai quotes Susanne Babbel, Ph.D., a licensed marriage therapist.
Signs of emotional abuse vary -- and they're so chilling because, over time, you may get used to it and think it's just the way your partner is.  But when one partner goes out of his or her way to humiliate another, that's abuse.  Or withholds money the household needs -- or makes a partner beg -- that's abuse.  Treating you like a child is another form of emotional abuse, as is having unrealistic expectations because the abuser is perfect in everything he or she does, and you should be, too.
I'm ashamed to say I've had partners that have done all these things -- and some of them, more than one.  It happens when you don't think very highly of yourself.  And it can happen to anyone.  Even worse, it's sometimes hard to recognize.
Listen to your friends.  They're the ones who usually notice first.  Don't blow them off if they show concern about your partner and the way he/she's treating you.  Listen, and look inside.  Get some therapy.  You may even be able to remain in the relationship if you can change your approach to it. 
But no one deserves emotional abuse, or abuse of any kind.  Get help right away if you think you might be a victim.


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