We should be talking about emotional abuse because it’s equally as horrific and dangerous as physical abuse, or any other type of abuse.
Sometimes we think “it’s just emotional abuse.”
“At least he’s not hitting me.”
“It’s only words. I can take it.”
“He’s just mean, but if he ever lays a hand on me, I’m out of here.”
Here are the problems with those statements:
You can’t be grateful he’s not physically laying a hand on you when he’s verbally beating you up.
Saying it’s “just” emotional abuse diminishes and dismisses how cruel, damaging, and potentially dangerous verbal and emotional abuse truly are.
You might say you’ll leave if he ever lays a hand on you, but the scheme of verbally and emotionally abusing you is to get you so far down, so oppressed, so unsure of yourself and your own thoughts, that you won’t be strong enough to leave if he does start physically abusing you.
Emotional and verbal abuse often start out small. There are subtle insults, backhanded ones, little questions here and there like “are you sure you want to wear that?” or “dinner wasn’t that bad”, that start to nick away at your self-esteem, your self-worth, and cause you to question yourself. And it goes downhill from there, getting worse and worse over time…sometimes slowly, sometimes very quickly.
And those words do hurt. They mangle you from the inside out. They’re every bit as damaging and dangerous as a punch to the face. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that “just” because someone isn’t hitting you, that he won’t.
I wasn’t hit immediately. I was verbally and emotionally abused for years, with the constant threat of “I’ll knock your head off.” Even if you feel there’s never a physical threat, you’re wrong. Abuse escalates and someone who places no value on you might not hesitate to hit you one day. They have trouble coping and don’t have self-control, and you are their easy and available target.
Find help getting out of this situation. You need to be safe and safety is never found in the arms of someone who won’t protect you from themselves and who routinely uses you as their verbal punching bag. This is the harsh but necessary truth. Reach out to a friend, your sister, your pastor, a coworker or neighbor, the nearest shelter or association that helps women or men just like you in situations just like this. Call them on the phone and get more information. Have a plan in place as soon as possible. Your life may depend on it and your life is worth saving.
To find out about the many aspects of emotional abuse and to determine if this is what’s happening in your relationship, learn about the 10 Aspects of Emotional Abuse from this author at Melanie S. Pickett and get the list.
Be brave. You are worth it.