What does emotional abuse look like?
At first glance, it looks like a surprise party, for you. You’re the center of attention. It’s all smiles, affection, some gifts, you feel special. You feel like this person really gets you. You feel respected and appreciated. You feel lucky.
Then either one day, or in one situation, or during one conversation, you’re taken back by the level of negative, yelling intensity you witness from your new partner. You’re taken off guard when you hear yourself being called a stupid idiot because you made the coffee wrong or some other ridiculous thing. The criticisms don’t stop. You’re screamed at, cursed at, degraded, humiliated, and disgraced. You’re hurt and drop to a heap of tears. This is emotional abuse.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
I remember sitting all curled up in a corner of my living room in the middle of the night, in the dark, and being repeatedly abused by my then husband. Just ten minutes before, I was trying to talk to him about why he wasn’t home earlier. I was trying to reason with him. But that look in his eyes (that I’ve seen before) told me he was too far gone.
Gone into his animal rage. I tried not to flinch as I was stripped of any integrity or safety. I tried to remain motionless, curled up on the floor. What faced me was just like a standing Grizzly with long, long, loud growls from his mouth while shaking his head and roaring on and on attacking me with depravity, degrading me, diminishing me, hurting me. The pain was horrific. This is emotional abuse.
Your first experience of emotional abuse you’re left stunned. It comes out of nowhere. But once you’re a target, it won’t stop. If you’re lucky you can walk away. Walk out. And that’s that.
But for some, walking out and leaving isn’t easy. There may be a marriage and kids, or financial partnerships, or religious reasons. The abuse might be intermittent and not a daily subjection.
If you think an abuser can change with your love, it’s a nice thought and an indication of how much you care. But the painful reality is your love is not going to change this person.
You need to change your future. You need a safe place to heal. You need to remember who you are. In the US: call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
The circumstances that create abusers in the first place require professional intervention for the insecurities that feed a need to control and abuse.
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