When thinking about relationship violence the majority of people will instantly think of physical abuse.
A man comes home from spending the night out with friends and his girlfriend doesn’t like that he was out so late, so she hits him repeatedly and he does nothing to retaliate.
There is a deeper abuse, one that festers within a person and eats away at their self-esteem.
After refilling his glass of wine, she walks over to him and hands him the glass, it spills into his lap. He stands up abruptly and screams at her, calling her names and cursing.
Emotional abuse affects thousands of men and women every year.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics released the average annual percentage of nonfatal intimate partner victimizations (IPVs) from 2001 to 2005.
Nonfatal intimate partner victimizations can range anywhere from a simple shouting match to stab wound or gun shot wounds that didn’t lead to death.
In the same study, 95.7 percent of women reported abuse by their male spouse, while 82.4 percent of males reported abuse by their female spouse.
The highest occurrence of nonfatal IPVs were among adults age 30 or older. The second highest percentage, 65.7 percent, occurs between the ages of 21 and 29.
A reported 25,710 women were seriously injured in an IPV case and 13,350 were raped or sexually assaulted. For men, 4,335 were seriously injured and 580 were raped or sexually assaulted.
Although the statistics weigh heavily on the side of female victims, clearly men experience abuse as well.
And contrary to popular belief abusers are using their control—not losing it.
Physical abuse is the most commonly reported abuse as opposed to the emotional damage. This is due to the lack of tangible evidence for emotional abuse. But the proof is in the victim.
Emotional scarring can affect a person’s ability to interact regularly in social environments. The victim’s self-esteem can plummet and not only will the victim(s) stay in the abusive relationship, but there will always be an excuse.
Victims will commonly be more proned to aggressive behaviors, they may also show signs of depression and anxiety. They are also at higher risk of substance abuse, eating disorders and encountering further domestic abuse.
Approximately 33 percent of abuse victims will go on to abuse their own children.
“But he doesn’t hit me,” is the most commonly used reason for women to stay in an emotionally abusive relationship.
The majority of women, and a small percentage of men, continue to take the beatings and put-downs by the ones they love.
I was talked down to. My ex-boyfriend made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. Like I was just there for him to literally use and emotionally abuse.
It made him feel better about himself.
He told me I was stupid and any time I brought up a topic, he found a way to make me feel like I wasn’t smart enough to talk about it.
I woke up every day wondering if he was cheating on me. Then one day I found out he had. It crushed me but I wasn’t surprised.
We stayed together, I forgave him. That was my biggest mistake.
There was not a single day that went by I didn’t wonder if he was cheating again.
How could he do this to me? How am I not enough?
The answer was, he was the problem – not me.
It took me nine more months to finally speak up and tell him I couldn’t handle the emotional strain the lack of trust he was putting on me.
I was scared because I loved him, but I realized I deserved better.
Emotional abuse takes multiple forms — no matter how mild or extreme, it scars a person and stalls progress for future relationships.
Remaining in an emotionally abusive relationship can lead to further abuse that may result in physical harm. High-tension situations can escalate without warning.
If you or someone you know is being physically or emotionally abused in their relationship, take a moment to acknowledge your self worth and realize you deserve better.
The fear of leaving is normal, but there are resources to help you, don’t remain a statistic.
For support, assistance and information call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233