Abuse

There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about men hitting women. This is obviously domestic violence. It is obviously abuse. But not all abuse is as easy to identify. Fists leave physical damage, but words and other actions leave psychological damage that takes much longer to heal. Maybe you’re married to a guy who freely admits he’s arrogant and self-centered. A narcissist. Maybe you’re convinced he thinks men are superior to women even though he’s never used those exact words. Maybe he told you he “just doesn’t like women” once and it’s haunted you ever since. Even since then you’ve wondered, “What does that say about me? Does that mean he doesn’t like me? Does that mean he doesn’t respect me?” You think, “I can’t possibly be the only exception to his statement.” You never asked flat out, but that conversation made you realize that he would never see you as his equal. And somehow, at the time, you accepted it. Maybe you’re married to a guy who finds little ways to make you feel like you’re not worthy of his love or respect. You don’t think he’s doing it deliberately or consciously, but that doesn’t make it any easier to brush off. Even if you can dismiss 99% of his subtle insults, that last 1% slowly builds up, day after day, until you’re completely crushed under the weight of the chides, tsks, and sighs. Until one day you wake up and discover that you believe him. You’re not worthy of his love. You’re not worthy of having a partner who doesn’t expect you to walk one step behind him. When it all boils down to it, you realize that you’re scared on him. Not because he hits you or verbally assaults you, but because he looks down on you. You’re his inferior. And you know that whatever you do, inevitably to try and please him, will more than likely fail. On some level, at least. For one detail or another he’ll look at you like you’re an idiot and you’ll curse yourself for screwing up yet again. You’ll berate yourself for not living up to his standards, even though the rational part of your brain knows that’s impossible. And after each incident you’ll be even more scared of messing up the next time. You’re afraid of his disappointment, his explanation of what you did wrong, and his lack of appreciation for all of your efforts. This is emotional abuse. Plain and simple. It’s not as obvious as physical violence or outright insults, but it’s just as damaging.