Breaking the Silence to Educate Others on Violence
Dirty little secrets, sad little lies, and trying to understand “normal” in this ever so un-normal world has become the challenge of those working with survivors of violent crimes. The children live what they see and later live what they learn. Violent homes, neighborhoods and schools condition children to live in a form of learned helplessness. This later becomes adults unwittingly allowing the same violent behavior in their environment. The feeling that this behavior is normal or that the partner can be “fixed or changed” becomes an excuse for the abuse.
This faulty reasoning can apply throughout various aspects of any relationship. No matter how many men or women I work with I always hear -“I thought he/she would change with a little love or if they just knew I really loved them. If this or if that…” The abuser is an abuser. Baring some life changing – near death – or god fearing dramatic experience in their life the abuser will remain an abuser. The most important issue is to educate the survivor.
Behaviors range in various degrees depending on the level of grooming reached and the stage of the relationship. Most abusers are often controlling. They want to control the partner’s actions. They limit family, friends, phone use, and even go so far as to control the clothes, makeup, and hairstyles of the partner. It is not uncommon to discover the abuser going through the phone log, checking the mileage on the car, or checking the ashtray for odd brand cigarette butts, checking the clothes or even partner for odd smells or evidence of sexual contact with another becomes almost a ritual to the abuser. If someone allows it once it will continue and even become worse as time passes. (I find all of these to be extremely disrespectful and have ended relationships immediately over the first sign of even one of these.) The idea that it will prove innocence and stop never happens. It is disrespectful drama. If one partner allows this form of disrespect it becomes a slippery slope to other bad behaviors.
Emotional abuse is the act of belittling, ignoring, corrupting, acting cruel, isolating, rejecting, and scaring another person, as well as being continually yelled at or humiliated, bullied, told they will be hurt or killed and is a form of brain washing. (Datehookup, 2012) Emotional abuse is more psychologically harmful than physical abuse. There are a couple of reasons for this. Even in the most violent families, the incidents tend to be cyclical. Early in the abuse cycle, a violent outburst is followed by a honeymoon period of remorse, attention, affection, and generosity, but not genuine compassion. (The honeymoon stage eventually ends, as the victim begins to say, “Never mind the damn flowers, just stop hitting me!”) Emotional abuse, on the other hand, tends to happen every day. The effects are more harmful because they’re so frequent. (Stosny, 2012) Individuals tend to believe the repeated remarks. Gender holds no sway here for both men and women can be emotionally abusive. They tend to manipulate the weakness of the others fears. Emotional abuse seems more personal than physical abuse, more about you as a person, more about your spirit. It makes love hurt. (Stosny, 2012)
Violent behaviors range from slapping, beatings, forced sexual acts, choking to torture. The nature of the abuse may not even seem realistic to the survivor who lives in an emotional state of shock. The individual listening to the stories of vast accounts of abuse that range in such a depraved scale may take note that the survivor is either emotionless or completely devastated needs to understand that the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can become as if one is emotionally numb.
No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available. Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. (Help-guide, 2012)Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. (Help-guide, 2012) While women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. This is devastating in ways most do not realize for men are often not taken seriously when they are victims of abuse and treatment for them can be hard to secure. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe. (Help-guide, 2012)
The main goal of this article is to inform and provide information for a discussion on violence of varied levels. It is the holiday season. This brings out the best and the worst in people. While some have amazing calm lives – others live in their own personal hell. Make a resolution to find peace this year if you are in an abusive relationship. Reach out – get help – get away.
If you wonder why your son or your daughter allows abuse in their lives maybe they consider it “normal” from the lives they have lived – the things they have seen or heard from the time spent in childhood. It is not a blame thing – they live what they learn. A new normal for all could be peace.
|SIGNS THAT YOU’RE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP|
|Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings||Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior|
1. Feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
|Does your partner:
1. Humiliate or yell at you?
|2. Avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?||2. Criticize you and put you down?|
|3. Feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?||3. Treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?|
|4. Believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?||4. Ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?|
|5. Wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?||5. Blame you for their own abusive behavior?|
|6. Feel emotionally numb or helpless?||6. See you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?|
|Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats||Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior|
|Does your partner:
1. Have a bad and unpredictable temper?
|Does your partner:
1. Act excessively jealous and possessive?
|2. Hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?||2. Control where you go or what you do?|
|3. Threaten to take your children away or harm them?||3. Keep you from seeing your friends or family?|
|4. Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?||4. Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?|
|5. Force you to have sex?||5. Limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?|
|6. Destroy your belongings?||6. Constantly check up on you?|
2. Steven Stosny , (2012) Psychology Today: Anger in the age of entitlement; http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/200808/effects-emotional-abuse-it-hurts-when-i-love3. Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., (2012) Domestic Violence and Abuse Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships http://www.helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm