By Sarah Fader
December 4, 2017
We hear a lot of stories in our society about domestic violence and they are tragic sometimes. There are many different kinds of abuse out there: physical abuse, sexual emotional abuse, and verbal abuse. Each of these kinds of abuse is extremely painful for the survivor. I am using the word survivor rather than victim because it empowers the person who has endured abuse. Being emotionally abused is an incredibly awful thing to experience. The survivor is told that they are not a valuable human being and is the means through name-calling, neglect, verbal abuse and hurtful behavior. Many times the survivor is punished by being emotionally neglected and told that their feelings are not important. They are often told that they are crazy and this is a form of what’s called “gaslighting.” Gaslighting is one of the most abusive things a survivor can experience. This happens when the survivor is made to feel like their experiences are made up. They are also told that their perception is less valuable than the abuser’s.
You may wonder why people stay in abusive relationships. There are healthy relationships out there where people can express themselves freely without fear of being abused. It’s my hope that everyone can find a healthy connection where they valued for who they are. There are several reasons why people will stay in abusive relationships. Abuse is tricky in the sense that survivors are frequently tricked into believing that they’re not being abused. Abusers are very clever and they can hide the abuse from the survivors family members and friends. On the surface many abusers appear to be normal supportive partners. Additionally, an abuser can behave in a kind way one day to their partner and then turn abusive much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This is further complicated when the abuser is a drug addict or alcoholic. Abusive behaviors are exacerbated by substances. For example, when an abuser is intoxicated or high, they are likely to be angrier than they normally are.
Emotional abuse tears the survivor down and it makes them feel like they do not have a voice. The survivor is convinced that they are stuck in this dysfunctional relationship and that they cannot leave it. The abuser has brainwashed them that they can’t do any better than them and their self-esteem is so low that they stay in this relationship that they desperately want to leave.
Even though being in an abusive relationship seems like a hopeless situation there is hope for survivors. You can leave an emotionally abusive relationship if you have the right resources. I am writing this thinking of someone who feels hopeless. I want you to know that there are organizations like Safe Horizon that help survivors of emotional abuse leave dangerous relationships. If you are in an abusive relationship you can reach out for help. You are not alone and there are people out there who are there to guide you toward a happier life.