Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 34: More than hurt feelings

Domestic Violence isn’t solely characterized by physical abuse. Another common, yet often lesser acknowledged, form of domestic violence is emotional abuse. It’s important to note that any form of abuse can have long lasting emotional effects on a person. However, there are some specific behaviors that fall outside the realm of physical violence and are specifically categorized as emotional abuse.

Loveisrespect.org (a website that educates teens and adults on dating abuse) notes that emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as:

  • Threats
  • Insults
  • Constant monitoring or “checking in”
  • Excessive texting
  • Humiliation
  • Intimidation
  • Isolation
  • Stalking

I’ll add to the pot:

Any regularly occurring, aggressive communication tactics that berate, manipulate, demean and intimidate with the intent to exert power, control and dominance over the victim.  Victims of this type of abuse experience far more than simply hurt feelings. Trust me, I know.

Yet, with the absence of physical violence, emotional abuse is often disregarded or even unidentified.

Emotional abuse is elusive. Unlike physical abuse, the people doing it and receiving it may not even know it’s happening.

It can be more harmful than physical abuse because it can undermine what we think about ourselves. It can cripple all we are meant to be as we allow something untrue to define us.

The abuser projects their words, attitudes or actions onto an unsuspecting victim usually because they themselves have not dealt with childhood wounds that are now causing them to harm others. – “Signs of Emotional Abuse,” by Maria Bogdanos

Actions and tactics that fall into the categories of the non-physical behaviors listed above should by no means be ignored. To disregard emotionally abusive behaviors could prove dangerous, as the level and intensity of abuse often tends to escalate over time and can graduate from non-physical to physical abuse.

Remember, abuse isn’t always limited to intimate partner relationships. We know that children suffer abuse at the hands of parents, guardians or other caregivers. Senior citizens often suffer abuse in nursing homes or at the hands of their personal care givers. Abuse can even be perpetrated in workplace or in places of worship.

Mary J. Yerkes penned these words of truth about the impact of emotional abuse in her article titled “Understanding Emotional Abuse,” for Focus on the Family:

“Emotional abuse leaves few physical scars. Its victims suffer no broken bones, torn flesh or spilled blood. Still, those wounded might describe it as the most painful and destructive form of domestic violence.” –  by Mary J. Yerkes

Again, I encourage you to take a moment to consider your relationships and even those of people you love. Have you or someone you know ever experienced a relationship plagued by emotional abuse?

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Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 33: Domestic Violence makes national headlines

In September, anyone who turned on a television at least once saw and heard more than enough about the incident between (now former) Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and his wife (then fiancée), Janay Palmer Rice.

If you’re somehow unfamiliar with the story of Mr. and Mrs. Rice, you get no judgment from me. This saga began back in February, but I  only learned of it after TMZ released full video footage of the incident last month.

The silent video tells at least part of the story of the couple’s altercation that occurred inside an elevator in an Atlantic City, New Jersey casino. The result was a fiancé knocked unconscious by the blink-of-an-eye punch from her soon-to-be husband. When the elevator doors opened, I watched, wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as Rice sloppily dragged his fiancée’s limp body from inside and left her straddling the floor between the elevator and elevator lobby.

I don’t want to spend the entire post recapping the many details of this situation. So if by chance this story is new to you, click here to play catch up with CNN’s nice timeline of the key events. Then, if you’re brave, click here to watch the video.

In hindsight, it seemed a matter of fate, actually. I’m certain it wasn’t their intention on that winter night in Atlantic City, but Ray Rice and his bride-to-be bride (at that time) brought domestic violence and abuse to the attention of the entire nation. Their relational woes caught on tape seemed to prepare the way for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in October.

Some statistics

Thankfully, most men and women never experience the likes of an abusive or violent relationship. However, more than a few among us do. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NIPSVS), “20 people per minute are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner in the United states.” 20 people per minute…

That’s 1,200 people each hour,

28,800 people each day

and over 10,500,000 men and women each year.

One is certainly too many; 10 and a half million is heartbreaking.

How can I help?

I’m glad you asked. Here are three simple things you can do this month to support the conversation, the cause and the victims of domestic violence:

Wear purple: Purple is the color for DVAM. Choose to wear purple at some point during the month to remind yourself and others that men and women each day are suffering harm at the hands of people who are supposed to “love” them. Remember it doesn’t take much to show your support.

Start a conversation: Click here to learn more facts and stats on intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking. Then talk about what you’ve learned with girlfriends, family members and young people. You can even post this cool infographic to your Facebook page or website.

Share your resources: There probably isn’t a city in this country without shelters and organizations to support victims of domestic violence. Find one in your area and share your resources – time, talent, goods (like clothing and toiletries) and financial support – to show support.

Final thoughts…

In the domestic violence conversation terms like “intimate partner violence,” “sexual violence” and “stalking” are easily the attention grabbers. Relational abuse forms like verbal, emotional and psychological abuse don’t make headlines but often inflict deeper harm. The bottom line is unhealthy relationships take on many forms. I’ve included this conversation in the Be Completely You series because I strongly believe understanding who we are can help position us for healthier relationships. Join me next week as we continue the conversation.

Until then…

Be Completely You

P.S. This month, visit these sites to learn more about domestic violencedating violence and teen dating abuse .

 

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Week 32: Know you’re valuable

Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies. – Proverbs 31:10, KJV

I saw her around the same time almost every day. Each time I hoped to make eye contact, if only for a moment. I wanted to offer her my best smile and my friendliest, “Hi! How are you?” My ears and heart were on high alert, ready to listen for her response. But it never happened. She never lifted her face long enough to be seen, let alone to be acknowledged. It was as if she didn’t want or expect anyone to notice her. I spoke anyway.

It pierces my heart to see a woman walk with her eyes glued to the ground. I was that woman not so very long ago. After years of vehement verbal and emotional battery in an unhealthy relationship, my self-esteem plunged to an all-time low. Even after the relationship ended, my continued pattern of unhealthy relationships was the fruit of my tattered, shameful, guilt-ridden soul.

I walked around with my head hung low. My posture wasn’t intentional. Heck, for a long time I didn’t even notice it. It was the subconscious side effect of a deeply-rooted internal lie that said I wasn’t worthy and that I wasn’t as valuable as those around me. A lie, indeed.

Some time after that season of my life, I hosted a small group women’s bible study. I studied and wrote the lessons myself. The first lesson was entitled Wisdom, Virtue and Rubies - inspired by and based on the biblical scripture above. To prepare the lesson, I dissected the word wisdom and studied the many biblical scriptures that instruct us on the value of wisdom. I studied what it means to be virtuous, a woman of strong moral character. Then I came upon the word “rubies.” The analogy is meant to describe the extreme value of a woman.

The more I studied the more I realized we, as women, often don’t know just how valuable we truly are. That lack of personal value may be displayed through something as simple as our posture or something more notable as unhealthy relationships (including toxic friendships with other women). The more I studied the more delighted I became with the reassurance that God created me, you, us to be valuable. And His intent for us superseded anyone else’s thoughts, feelings or opinions that may fall opposite of His. It even overrides the shame, guilt and brokenness of days gone by.

I still see that woman from time to time. Recently, we shared an elevator ride at the end of a work day. As my co-worker and I chirped away with excitement about the weekend, I barely heard her voice chime in in agreement. Her whisper made my heart leap. I quickly turned to face her, to acknowledge her in that brief conversation. Why? Because I wanted her to feel noticed. Because she’s important. Because she’s valuable.

What about you? Do you know your worth? Do your posture, your countenance, your relationships confirm your value?

P.S. Please share this post with another woman to reminder her how valuable she is.

P.S.S. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please join me here for posts related to domestic violence/abuse and healthy relationships. Because authenticity plays an important role in healthy relationships.

Until next time,

Be Completely You!

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