Emotional Abuse

Dear Priscilla Bennett Friends,

It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and here’s an excerpt from an article I read on emotional abuse.

“Emotional abuse can escalate to violence, but doesn’t always. Abusers instead control their partners with words.

The abuse, sometimes called coercive control, can be difficult to spot, both inside and outside the relationship. And when women realize they do want to leave, they might be scared their partners will hurt them. They might stay for financial security, to keep their family together, or for love.

Lisa Aronson Fontes, author of the book “Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship,” said some women think they can make their partners act differently by changing their own behavior.

“If someone is just experiencing the coercive control and not physical violence then they may feel that they themselves are the problem,” Fontes said. “Many women would say, ‘I wish he could just hit me because then … I would have a concrete reason to leave.’”

“What does emotional abuse look like?

Domestic violence is any way to gain power over a partner, ranging from punching a spouse to poking holes in a condom to force a pregnancy. Emotional abuse is tricky, because it includes behaviors that are “often wrapped in a package of caring,” Fontes said.

A boyfriend might forbid his girlfriend from talking to certain people or going places, saying he’s worried other men will fall in love with her. He might read her emails or track her movements. If she doesn’t comply, he could threaten to take away access to her car or credit cards, or to withhold affection or inflict violence.

Some more examples:

  • Threatening to physically harm you or your family
  • Trying to isolate you from family or friends
  • Refusing to trust you
  • Attempting to control what you wear or eat
  • Keeping you from leaving the house
  • Monitoring where you go and whom you see
  • Showing up unexpectedly in places, such as your workplace, when you didn’t want a visit
  • Calling you names or humiliating you in public
  • Saying you’d never find anyone better
  • Destroying things that were important to you
  • Keeping you from having your own money to use

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has a fuller list of the signs of various kinds of domestic abuse.”

Take good care of yourselves,