Should emotional/mental abuse be punished as severely as physical?

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  1. MissJamieD profile image56
    MissJamieDposted 12 years ago

    I believe it absolutely should be! Most victims of mental or emotional or verbal abuse would agree that these types of abuse are just as damaging as physical abuse, if not more! There should be a program to test any person where viable accusations were made and make them accountable. OFP's (Order For Protection) aren't good enough! Also, the victim needs to be protected (in any type of abuse case) until the abuser is convicted, in some type of safehouse, that way less women would stay in these relationships, they wouldn't have to live in constant fear of the abuser getting to them when they find out the victim has left them! The first few days after a separation (in an abusive case) are the most dangerous but reality proves that that anger can last well beyond a few days!

    1. couturepopcafe profile image61
      couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      IMO, no.  Physical abuse involves overpowering someone.  Verbal/mental abuse one can walk away from.  Except in the case of children.

      1. emrldphx profile image60
        emrldphxposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Social pressure, economic condition, even just commitment of love can keep someone in an abusive relationship. Battered women don't think they have any escape... they are told so much that they believe it is true.

        I've seen the effects of mental and emotional abuse. In my opinion, it is worse than physical.

        Think about it this way. Who are you? Do you identify yourself more by your body or your mind? When someone attacks your body, it hurts and is horrible. But, when somebody attacks you, then we start to see real damage, broken psyches, and unfortunate events like Columbine.

        1. couturepopcafe profile image61
          couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          I definately understand all this but still feel the punishment should be more severe for physical abuse.  Well, here's a better idea.  How about letting the punishment fit the crime.  If a victim is beaten, let the perp be beaten.  If there is mental abuse, he should get the same.  It would be difficult to determine what would be abusive to this person though.

          1. emrldphx profile image60
            emrldphxposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            It's difficult. On the one hand, you want to be fair to people and give them chances to change. On the other hand, you don't want to have 2.5 million inmates that the taxpayers have to pay to take care of...

            1. couturepopcafe profile image61
              couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              I sort of believe in the process of brain re-entrainment.  I say sort of because I actually have been unable to think it through to its end.  In the long run, it should be cheaper than housing inmates and have a superior outcome.

    2. Paul Wingert profile image61
      Paul Wingertposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Verbal/mental abuse is much hard to prove than physical (i.e. lack of bruises or other marks). One needs to be prepared to leave the relationship is verbal or mental abuse starts.

  2. MissJamieD profile image56
    MissJamieDposted 12 years ago

    That's totally ridiculous in my opinion! A person can die from mental stress just as they can physical harm! And the effects of  mental abuse can last forever, broken bones heal! It's not the black eye or the broken bone that kill a persons spirit it's the reasoning, or lack thereof, behind it!

    1. TMMason profile image60
      TMMasonposted 12 years agoin reply to this


      You do not like the way someone treats you, then leave.

  3. MissJamieD profile image56
    MissJamieDposted 12 years ago

    Also, if you're in a mentally abusive situation it means that they use their words to control you, it doesn't take long for these abusers to break your spirit, then you're stuck! These abusers make it so you're not able to walk away i.e. Making you feel so worthless that you start to obey when they tell you you can't be around your family anymore, you're not allowed to work, you're a loser if you don't work on the marriage, you took the vows so you must obey, blah blah...abusers choose their vulnerable victims as well, they know what type of person will submit. People with a low self esteem, financial problems, divorcing, or just so compassionate they don't realize what they're getting's unfortunate that people don't understand this abuse...very unfortunate for the vistims!

    1. couturepopcafe profile image61
      couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      OK.  I'm convinced.  You guys are right.  I agree.  But what punishment would fit this crime?  Confinement?  To easy.

      1. stclairjack profile image77
        stclairjackposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        the better questio is how do you prove..... PROVE mental abuse?

        it leaves no bruises, no scares to photograph, no marks

        mental and emoional abuse is soo individual,.... how do you prove it,... how do you measure it,... how do you gatogorize it?

        unfortunately, theres no real puishment for it in our legal system,... and i dnt trust our legal system enough to give them that kind of power.

        we cant even stop pediphiles in football locker room showers.

        1. couturepopcafe profile image61
          couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Excellent point, Holmes.

  4. Lisa HW profile image61
    Lisa HWposted 12 years ago

    I've lived with mental/emotional abuse, and I'd disagree.  The spirit is NOT that easy to destroy, provided someone had self-esteem going in.   As someone else said, it's different with children.  Victims don't particularly believe what someone would like them to believe.  It's entirely possible for a person to think, "This situation is awful, and I shouldn't be, and don't deserve, this treatment," but where the victim of this type of abuse can be less resistant to what's going on is that they know they're helpless when it comes to stopping it (no matter how much they may try sometimes).  So, as a result, they can feel "small" and ashamed because even when they know they're strong and effective "in the rest of life", they can't stop what's going on.  Leaving is the only answer, but sometimes leaving (if a person can/will do it) makes things worse.

    The stress is a killer (maybe a slow one, but a killer none-the-less), and it doesn't feel great to be in the situation; but - I'll tell you - I'd still rather have that the form of abuse to have to deal with/live with/leave than having my face destroyed or bone broken (or worse).  It's that simple.

    I've lived with more than my share of broken bones, a serious head injury, and having my face messed up from car accidents; and honestly, the crummy stuff that goes on in a mental-/emotional- abuse situation caused by people's stupidity and/or aggressiveness is "nothing" compared to having physical injuries. 

    One of the most difficult and frustrating things with mental-/emotional- abuse is not being able to get justice, get others to see the extent and degree of it (or that it shouldn't be going on), and/or even having it recognized for what it is.  Even more difficult is that the person who goes to The System for help may find herself in far worse "mental abuse" (even if it's only experienced as "abuse" but not intended to be) than ever.

    In any case, having had my face messed up enough that I wondered if it would ever "come back" (which it did), I'd still prefer the mental-/emotional- abuse situation to having my face smashed up or a bunch of broken bones.  The "good" thing about some mentally-/emotionally- abusive situations is that they can escalate and start to appear to become physically intimidating.  That can be enough to make the woman who once may have overlooked someone's behavior as "stress" or "ignorance" to realize there's little choice but to leave before things go any farther.

    Although "intent" may be factored into a "legal"/"technical" definition of what makes an abuser's behavior "abuse" and what makes it something else, how abuse is experienced pretty feels the same, regardless of whether it would be "defined" as abuse by, say, the courts.  A lot of people would probably be shocked if they could see how much mental-/emotional- abuse can exist without the person guilty of it even realizing that's what s/he is doing.  Overbearing people with egos bigger than they ought to be, who think more highly of themselves (and too little of most everyone else) can engage in some abusive behavior without even realizing they're doing it.  "Real" abusers are out to hurt and/or destroy the other person.  "Unintended abusers" don't realize what they're doing, and they may not really have a "plan".

    What abusers who haven't been physically violent need is therapy - not punishment.  In fact, I'm convinced that it wouldn't even take a lot of therapy for a lot of these people.  In cases I've known/known about first hand, I think it would only take a couple of sessions with someone saying to the abusive person, "Look, you're a controlling, overbearing, person with too little respect for someone who deserves respect.  Let me explain to you why it most likely is that you want to control and/or demean this person, as well as "keep her in her place".  I'm convinced that with a lot of these people it was a matter of their mothers (or someone) not getting them to realize that they aren't quite the "big cheeses" they believe themselves to be, and that people who don't do/think what they want them to may be every bit as right (maybe even more right) as they are.

    Either way, maybe the reason "the world" knows so little about the fact that there's such a thing as a person who isn't "destroyed" by abuse is that so many victims of one form of abuse or another are generally fine and/or don't show up at hospitals and/or the offices of counselors or social workers; but also that they may be too exhausted from a life of always dealing with abuse that they're just too tired to keep talking and keep fighting to try to get "the world" to "get it".

  5. MissJamieD profile image56
    MissJamieDposted 12 years ago

    Thanks dear for sharing your story! Thank you to everyone else as well!

    Lisa, I see your point in many ways and I'm sorry about your pain, emotionally and physically. I guess I'm naive to the physical abuse world and tend to be a bit insensitive.  Unintentionally of course. And I certainly don't have all the answers I just wish there was a way to stop people from being so abusive in the first place!

    God bless

    1. Lisa HW profile image61
      Lisa HWposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      MissJamieD, thanks.  Fortunately, I'm naive to the physical-abuse world too - just not to how rotten physical pain and injury can be.  hmm  My post here isn't really particularly directed at you or anything you've said.  It's more aimed at anyone who happens to notice the subject of the thread and who decides to read here.

      I suspect there are a whole lot of people who have lived with mental-/emotional- abuse and survived with minimal damage, if any.  I just think they don't talk about it because they know that if they do they will face a world that won't/can't recognize that they (the relatively unscathed) even exist.  As long as abuse doesn't include direct physical harm (and hasn't escalated to seem close to it), I think a lot of people find it easier all around to keep it a secret, whether it's a present situation or a past one.

      In a whole lot of cases, once "the world" knows that someone has lived with abuse; how that person is seen and treated so often changes forever.

  6. MissJamieD profile image56
    MissJamieDposted 12 years ago

    I guess I believe that everyone who lives through abuse whether physical or mental, lives with it forever. Some people get over much of it, I do know people can move on and be happy, but that doesn't mean they don't carry the abuse with them. Does that make sense? Lol. For instance after someone is told what to do every minute of every day for years and years, they may be able to have a happy future life but many of their characteristics will be changed forever. At least for a period of time. They usually explain themselves too much or apologize for every little thing, or are over-sensitive to everything and that makes it very difficult to move on and have a normal relationship. But I agree with you 100% that there's a stigma around abuse but I guess in many ways I don't care what people think. I'm a great person despite my issues with abuse. I'm fun, funny, laid back, compassionate, giving, and I could go on. Yes I'm a bit messed up as a victim of abuse from infancy, but I'm good and I love God! And I try hard to love my neighbors no matter what their moral crimes have been (obviously there's a line there, I wouldn't like a child abuser or rapist) I hope you are feeling ok in your own skin. I don't always love myself or have confidence either but I truly put forth effort in making my life better for myself in the future. Hugs to you-please contact me if you'd ever like to chat;)

  7. Cagsil profile image70
    Cagsilposted 12 years ago

    Okay, I've been attempting to stay away from the thread, simply because I've never been a victim nor have I ever abused anyone, with regards to a relationship.

    However, I have had many different friendships with different people who have had to deal with this problem, both on a emotional/mental and physical level. Not to mention, I was emotionally/mentally and physically abused as a child, which wasn't from a relative.

    To address the title of this thread- Should emotional/mental abuse be punished as severely as physical abuse? No, it should not.

    Emotional abuse? I'm not sure it's even possible to abuse someone emotionally, because emotions are tied to our overall mental capacity. So, that would leave it up to actual mental abuse and physical abuse.

    Knowing the power of the human will, which isn't limited, then mental abuse can be overcame through building up our mental capacity. Physical abuse always heals, but inflicts pain and continued suffering, if the physical abuse is continued.

    As for the one statement that someone never gets over mental abuse? That's a fallacy. Meaning untrue. You won't forget it, but you will get over it through acceptance that it truly did happen and you survived it. Now being in a relationship with someone who is mentally abusive? Well, as I said, it's something one can survive and walk away from. As is physical abuse, can be overcame and walked away from. The problem that many people have in the relationship aspect is that they truly and honestly love the person who doing the abuse? But that really begs to ask...does this person truly understand love? It is virtually impossible and against human nature to continue to love someone who doesn't return that love through action. When their actions are mentally abusive and physically abusive, then there's no love and it needs to be recognized, so a person can understand that the love they supposed feel isn't actually real, because it's not being returned.

    Well, that's my thoughts on this. I've said my peace. Enjoy.

    1. schoolgirlforreal profile image80
      schoolgirlforrealposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I think the word "codependent" could come into play here. Codependent people tend to stay in abusive relationships because that's what they're used to, for one.

      and not everyone has the mental capacity to "get out"

      Although one could, and that is definitely possible. some people just can't or wont take abuse after a certain point.

  8. profile image0
    kimberlyslyricsposted 12 years ago

    Personal abuse has never proven effective but definitely barbaric.       

    Just saying...........

    1. schoolgirlforreal profile image80
      schoolgirlforrealposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      well you're definitely right there Kimmie

      No one deserves it

  9. AshtonFirefly profile image70
    AshtonFireflyposted 12 years ago

    How could it be punished? How can you measure the amount of emotional/mental abuse? How can one possibly gauge how much and how far and what kind of abuse are inflicted in this manner? You can look at a scar or a bruise and tell where it came from. You can't do that with emotional scars. Only the person who has been emotionally, verbally, etc. abused really knows that for sure.

  10. smzclark profile image59
    smzclarkposted 12 years ago

    okay, so what if they punch holes in walls and doors and physically abuse others around you...just to let you know that they are capable. then threaten to kill you, themselves or your child if you leave them? then when you do leave they come over with knives and sledgehammers etc. and don't actually do anything, just kick holes in doors and threaten. that's considered emotional abuse and at times like that you just pray that they will hit you so that you have some evidence of the abuse. but they never do, they are careful... what of that? what makes emotional abuse worse is that the abused know they've no leg to stand on, they know that there is nothing that can be done until they actually follow through with their threats...and their threats are to kill? i called the police after having 27 messages on my phone of threats to kill, the police said that there was nothing that they could do except warn him off until he actually acted on his threats---but by then i would have been dead!!! in my opinion emotional abuse is just as bad and can even sometimes be worse, but often with physical abuse emotional abuse is also being suffered. the problem is; as ashtonfirefly has asked; how could emotional abuse be measured on its own?

    and how can some of you say that you can walk from emotional abuse but not physical? with physical abuse the laws will punish the abuser and take him/her away, they will then be unable to follow you because they will be put away or atleast a restraining order will be put in place. both can be walked away from, it just takes a lot of courage and determination. sometimes it can be harder to leave someone who is abusing you depends entirely on the circumstances and seriousness of the abuse.

    1. seekingpeace91 profile image60
      seekingpeace91posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      smzclark, I agree.  It's tough for some people to believe that there are those who are so brainwashed by an abuser they lack the ability to fully understand their situation, and thus can't "get out."  It's like saying a depressed person should just "snap out of it" and stop being depressed.  Many people who are mentally abused think that it's their fault, that they are crazy or inadequate, or even believe that this is how things are with all couples.
      But I think it's also true that it's so much more difficult to measure mental abuse and its effects.  The best that many victims can do is to constantly document the behavior of the abuser, with extreme diligence, and to contact the authorities as many times as possible whenever threatened.  This at least creates a paper trail that can be used when/if the abuser is ever held accountable.

      1. smzclark profile image59
        smzclarkposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        thank you. always nice to have someone back you up :-) . yep, you can blame yourself and start to feel like you're going crazy...and it effects any later relationships you get yourself into. you're also right; the best advice you can give anyone is to carry a diary. thanks again

  11. rbe0 profile image61
    rbe0posted 12 years ago

    I was physically, mentally and emotionally abused as a child pretty much on a daily basis. Look how I turned out!


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