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?