Emotional Violence & Domestic Abuse - The Power of the Perpetrator
Emotional Abuse - A Silent Killer
The Power of the Perpetrator
Someone once asked me about domestic violence and what to do when someone, who you know is being abused, refuses any aid. She said “You can't help those who won't help themselves” and I agree. You see I used to be one of those people, but it was not because I enjoyed being unhappy or frightened. No woman chooses violence.
The reason I stayed was mainly because I was, you might say, "uneducated" on the whole issue, and basically I had been so brainwashed by my ex that I thought that his behavior was normal and that it was all my fault. I honestly thought that it would stop if only I tried harder to please him. Providing I didn't tell anybody (because I knew that set him off!) and did everything just right, we would be happy again...
Sounds crazy and stupid, I know... but there are some girls and women out there who don't actually know what "normal" (or functional) behavior really is. They think they know, they think that the way their dad treated their mum was normal, or their step-dad or maybe their mum treated them like that, or their dad or their grandparents etc...etc... Maybe they used to know what was normal, but slowly they have forgotten. You see that's the hard thing to understand about domestic violence: the power of the perpetrator over the victim. The bruises that you may or may not see and the bangs and crashes and yelling that you hear are really only the tip of the iceberg.
The emotional hold that the perpetrator has over their victim is invisible, both to them and everyone else, and it can be hard to wake up to it because it never happens straight away, they suck you in first and then slowly the mental manipulation creeps in and they change you. A lot of victims of domestic violence might never experience physical abuse, but they are not necessarily the lucky ones. Emotional abuse can be just as harmful and even fatal. Severe emotional, mental and/or psychological abuse has been compared to torture, and in some cases, it can induce suicide. Personally, I have experienced emotional, physical, mental, sexual, financial and verbal abuse as well as social isolation, and think that the emotional abuse is much worse than the physical violence. Blood and bruises are tangible things. They are there, you can see them. No-one can deny it. Other people can see them too, people who will support you and give you hope if you let them. I also think that emotional abuse is the core issue in any form of abuse. Most victims would never tolerate from a stranger the abuse that they endure from a family member or significant other. That is the power of the perpetrator.
Mental/emotional abuse is never obvious, and the injuries it inflicts can be invisible, both to the victims and to others, and can take much longer to heal than a few fractured bones. Indeed some bury so deep that they never do. Because it is so hard to recognize, emotional abuse is also very easy to deny. Words can be twisted and distorted to justify and excuse, and of course the things that are said to hurt and manipulate you are only said behind closed doors. It can be hard to remember exactly what was said when your world feels like it is caving in, and the abuser will jump on this uncertainty to highlight your insanity and to once again shift the focus away from his own appalling behavior, which makes one feel unsure about what really happened, compounding one’s confusion and distress, and deterring one from objecting or trying to reason the next time it happens. In the end all you know is that you will do anything you can not to p!ss them off (pardon my language).
I want to point out that it does not only happen to women, and is not only done by men. Some women abuse their husbands, and some partners in a gay or lesbian relationship may be abusive. It also does not only occur in poor couples, but all socio-economic backgrounds. Not all drug addicts or alcoholics perpetrate it or suffer from it. The perpetrator can be (and often is) someone who most people think is one of the nicest people they know. The meanest looking people are not always the culprits. The huge, hairy, scary looking biker over the road is a friend of mine and his wife is a very experienced, very aware nurse, and she confirms it all the time that he is the sweetest, most caring guy. His boys are confident, polite, caring, kind to others and verbally assertive, as is his wife. He is a fantastic father and husband.
On the other hand, the people I used to live next to are an executive couple - she is a real estate broker and he is a lawyer. She is very much a chatterbox when alone, and yet she has the demeanor of a frightened squirrel when he is around. He is sometimes quiet and moody, but usually confident, outgoing and not often intimidating. One reason I believe he is a perpetrator is because when I tried to talk to her about domestic violence, she became all frightened and said he would be home soon, and that he did not like talking about things like that. When I tried to give her an information brochure about it she became very upset and said he wasn't like that, but begged me not to leave it there in-case he found it, as it would make him very angry...
Domestic violence is reaching plague proportions in our community. It does not just involve physical violence, and people need to recognize this, especially the victims. In the end all we can really do is make people aware of it and try to educate them. Patience and persistence, as well as discretion pay off, but it still has to be their own realization that makes them decide to go (or stay). As a community, all we can do is support, educate, and inspire, but most importantly, we can model the right way to behave.
Signs of Domestic Violence
- Physical Abuse
- Emotional Abuse
- Social Abuse & Isolation
- Psychological & Mental abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Economic Abuse
- Intimidation, Coercion & Threats
- Minimizing, Denying & Blaming
- Using Children
- Unequal Rights &/ Privileges
- Spiritual Abuse
Every type of abuse that occurs in intimate relationships will involve elements of emotional abuse, but most abusers will start with the tactics listed below, and then as time goes by, they will progress to the more controlling and hurtful abuse, and more specific types of abuse such as those mentioned above. It is therefore important to be aware of these initial warning signs:
- Yelling & Swearing
- Insulting you, your friends/family
- Name Calling
- Criticism & Put-downs
- Emotional Blackmail
- Minimizing, Denying & Blaming
- Threatening to Leave or Commit Suicide
- Unequal Rights &/ Privileges
(For more detail about these behaviors, please click on the black wheel below. To view the types of behaviors and attitudes that constitute a healthy, non-violent relationship based on equality, please click on the blue wheel below)
Violence, Power & Control
Non-violence & Equality
An Insight into a Victim's Journey
A False Impression.
You offered me a new life
You offered me security
And love and respect
You showed me self worth and
You gave me the strength to take a chance
And so I came to you
You said it would be great
You said I would be safe
And loved and respected
You showed me this at first and
You gave me reason to believe
And so I stayed
You expressed your hopes and dreams
You expressed your passion with tenderness
And love and respect
But you also showed me disdain and
You gave me reason to doubt
And so I questioned
You claimed it was true
You claimed you had not lied
And that you did love and respect me
But you showed me slavery and
You gave me a cage
And so I struggled
You told me to stay
You told me to listen
And to love and respect you
But you showed me hate and loathing and
You gave me your anger to fear
And so I disobeyed
You begged me to reconsider
You begged me to forgive
And to love and respect you again
But you showed me that you could not change and
You gave me vicious threats.
And so I found the wisdom
To trust myself instead of you
Then I found the strength to disappear
And so I am free
Please join me on FaceBook
- STOP the Violence Against Women & Children
Organize to Resist! Together we can take on the Predators! Let's Break the Silence to End the Violence by working together to make our voices a Resounding SHOUT!!! Perpetrators BEWARE - you don't stand a chance!
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Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last", of Perth, Western Australia. All rights reserved.
All persons, places and objects shown in the images in this hub are are shown for illustrative purposes only. They bear no relation to any real person or event. All persons shown are paid models. Unless otherwise credited, all images are under the following copyright:
Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.