EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN RELATIONSHIPS
The National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) released by the Union Health Ministry of India, reported that every third women, since the age of 15, has faced domestic violence of various forms in the country. While domestic violence is a topic much talked about, it is different from domestic abuse. Not all abusive relationships involve physical violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from Emotional Abuse, which is no less destructive. ‘EMOTIONAL ABUSE’, also called ‘PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE’, refers to the humiliation or intimidation of a person by someone else. The most common form of emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behaviour are also forms of emotional abuse, which may include: making decisions by oneself, even cancelling other person’s plan without asking; telling another person that they cannot meet their friends and family; and, constant threats of leaving someone unless they do what is wanted of them to be done.
Oftentimes, people in emotionally abusive relationships don’t realise that they are being abused because there’s no violence involved. Emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked even by the person experiencing it because they don’t think it’s as bad as physical abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with physical wounds. But what needs to be understood is that emotional abuse can be equally as damaging. Emotional abuse has major consequences and it’s often hard to recognize. This form of abuse deteriorates a person’s self-esteem, independence, and dignity. It affects a person’s well-being and could lead to a nervous breakdown.
Emotional abusers often create a sense of dependency between the victim and themselves. Although, the victim is unhappy in the relationship, the abuser often convinces the victim that they are all the victim has. As a result, victims consistently return to their abusers because they feel defeated and lost without them. It becomes very difficult for emotional abuse victims to trust, and they experience high rates of anxiety and depression. A low sense of self-esteem and emotional dependence on the abuser, often leaves a person feeling that there’s no way out of the relationship, or that without your abusive partner, you have nothing. The relationship may end, but the abuse stays with the victim. It takes years of hard work and healing to fully recover.
A few ways to deal with emotional abuse are:
· MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY
· ESTABLISH BOUNDARIES: Firmly tell the abusive person that they may no longer yell at you, call you names, insult you, be rude to you, and so on. And also, what will happen if they choose to engage in this behaviour.
· STOP BLAMING YOURSELF
· AVOID ENGAGING: If an abuser tries to start an argument with you, begins insulting you, demands things from you or rages with jealousy, do not try to make explanations, soothe their feelings, or make apologies for things you did not do. Simply walk away from the situation if you can.
· WORK ON AN EXIT PLAN: Depending on your situation, you may need to take steps to end the relationship.
· BUILD A SUPPORT NETWORK: Stop being silent about the abuse you are experiencing. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or even a counselor about what you are experiencing. Take time away from the abusive person as much as possible and spend time with people who love and support you.
If you, or anybody you know, is a victim of emotional abuse, feel free to ask us any questions. We urge you to seek professional help for the same.
- Sambhav Kumar