“The scars you can’t see are the hardest to heal” – Astrid Alauda
A child is born into this world. A tough, tough world. Difficult to navigate through. Years go by. His mother, her dad. Painful words spew from their mouths. You are good for nothing. I wish I never had you. You will never make it. You are irresponsible. You never think. Unpleasant, depressing words. Words that this child hears day in, day out.
Growing up is still the same. In school, outside. Words, words. Words. And now, she’s just landed herself a new job, he’s excited about the immense opportunities of growth. The boss, on the other hand isn’t too welcoming. Information useful for her duties is held back, his ambitious trajectory has been made clear to him; he wont go far. She doesn’t receive much support, he is seen as a threat.
The female colleague, harassed by her male boss. He wants, nay, demands sex, but she’s not giving in. The male colleague is becoming a victim of a toxic office environment.
The above are just examples, but they offer a glimpse of the challenges people face that lead to a greater issue, an issue that doesn’t involve any physical manifestation or aspects such as hitting, kicking or pinching. An issue that can’t lead to the conclusion that abuse is taking place. An issue that has to do with use of emotions to control another person. An issue known as Emotional Abuse.
My friend Emma, a mental health consultant, informs me that the number of emotional abuse cases is on the rise in relationships, leading to what is known as ‘couple/relationship trauma’. Here, one partner uses (emotional) control to subdue the other by using emotional abuse or neglect.
Emma further notes that emotional abuse includes verbal aggression, hurling insults, isolation from family or friends, or even overt threats. It may also take the form of withdrawal or denial of love, support, money or sex. Yes, it does. A number of the victims end up being hospitalized as a result of high blood pressure or mental conditions like depression or anxiety caused by this form of abuse.
Some researches have noted that emotional abuse usually takes place after a major event has occurred, say an engagement, a wedding ceremony or even pregnancy. Tell-tale signs may have been spotted earlier, for instance, jealousy or control, but these may have been ignored. The aim of the abuser is to control the victim.
Emotional abuse is hard to understand for many. If a victim tries to explain themselves, it is easy to misunderstand the situation and the victim may receive solutions that are not sustainable.
Emma notes that some of the children who have gone through this form of abuse end up as high achievers later in life, because they had to work twice as hard to get noticed. However, they may not be emotionally ‘mature’ and, without realizing it, end up being abusers themselves.
Listen. Emotional abuse is on the rise. It has eaten into the self-worth of many, both men and women, across the social strata. The effects are life-changing and there’s now a need for a society to accept that we have a problem that requires solution and resolution.
It’s not too late to seek help, if going through any form of abuse. There are a number of organizations in our country that have been set up to protect persons from any form of violence or abuse. These organizations provide support for victims of emotional abuse, for they know too well that emotional abuse is usually a precursor to physical abuse.
Seek help now before it is too late. If you are in a relationship, full of hope that it will end up well in marriage, please do not ignore any tell-tale signs. Don’t, and never, make any excuses for those red flags. Interrogate them. My prayer is this, for you to come out of an abusive situation.
“The more chances you give someone the less respect they’ll start to have for you. They’ll begin to ignore the standards that you’ve set because they’ll know another chance will be given. They’re not afraid to lose you because they know you won’t walk away. They get comfortable depending on your forgiveness. Never let a person get comfortable disrespecting you.” Unknown