Most people know what physical abuse is. However, when it comes to emotional abuse, it often isn’t as easy to recognise.
At school it was often said that sticks and stones will break your bones, but names will never hurt you. But someone who is being called names, undermined, or constantly made to feel small by someone they live with and love, probably wouldn’t agree.
That said, although they might not like it, in the main they are unlikely to put it down to abuse. After all, all families have relationship difficulties sometimes, don’t they?
The main point in deciding whether or not the behaviour is abusive is how it makes you feel. If the person’s behaviour makes you feel small, controlled, or as if you’re unable to talk about what’s wrong, it’s abusive. If you feel like your partner is stopping you from being able to express yourself, it’s abusive. If you feel you have to change your actions to accommodate the person’s behaviour, it’s abusive.
Emotional abuse comes in many different guises, including intimidation, threats, criticism, undermining, being made to feel guilty, telling you what you can and can’t do, and economic abuse. This can be withholding money, not involving you in finances, or even preventing you from getting a job.
There may be many reasons for someone behaving in this way. For instance, they may have grown up in an environment where this happened. Or they may have been in relationships in the past that made them feel insecure. Regardless of the reason, and whether the behaviour is carried out on purpose or not, it isn’t okay. If you feel like you’re being subjected to abusive behaviour, remember that you deserve to have a voice, and you don’t deserve to be made to feel scared or small.
Help is available
Here at Enlivened, we provide support and coaching for women who have been affected by domestic abuse. If you are worried about a friend or you would like more information, please call us on 0333 772 1802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember: if your life is in imminent danger, call 999 for immediate assistance.