For some reason it took me a while to think of what to write for this week. Then I remembered that October isn’t only Breast Cancer Awareness month, it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness month. So I’ve decided to write about something that is very near and dear to my heart, Emotional Abuse (trigger warning).
I have heard people say they don’t think emotional abuse is something that can actually happen, that it’s all in the victim’s head and they just need to get over it.
To those people I say this: imagine you just found this great person and you’ve started dating them. They’re kind to you and sweet and they always tell you how much better you are than their ex. You feel like you have found a great match.
The only problem is that sometimes they make some sarcastic comments that kind of hurt but you ignore that because everything else about the relationship is working fine and they’re just small comments that your partner probably didn’t mean. So you just continue on your merry way, living life, dating them.
One day, your partner makes a comment that digs at you and hurts a lot. Afterwards, they hug you and hold you and tell you that they’re really sorry, they didn’t mean it and that that they’ll never do it again. So you let it slide and everything seems dandy.
Until it happens again. But they insist that they don’t mean to hurt you and they reassure you that they’ll never do it again. They tell you how much they love you and how much better you are than their ex. So you stay.
And then it happens again. Except the comment is worse this time. They shoot straight for one of your biggest insecurities, but afterwards they hold you and tell you how sorry they are and that they love you so very very much.
You stay because they love you and they didn’t mean what they said and you love them so much that all you want is to make them happy. Besides, you’re better than their ex so they would never say those things to hurt you on purpose, right?
And then the next time it’s even worse. They start to blame you for their misfortune and you start to think that maybe they’re right, maybe you are all the bad things they say about you because they love you and they wouldn’t say such nasty things if those things weren’t true, right?
And the cycle just repeats itself over and over again until you don’t know up from down, left from right and right from wrong.
Until you don’t know who you are anymore and you don’t know how you got to where you are.
Until you have panic attacks over anything that has the potential to upset your partner because you know that they’re going to blame everything on you and then you’ll be the one who ends up crying while they hold you and whisper their lies of adoration in your ear.
Until you find yourself in the ugliest parts of your mind and you don’t know how to crawl back out again.
Until the core of who you are is forever changed.
Until you can’t remember the last time you were genuinely happy and you can’t remember the last time you saw any of your friends or had anything even resembling fun.
Until your entire life seems to be covered by this dark, oppressive presence and you’re lost. Completely and utterly lost.
To the naysayers who say that emotional abuse isn’t real, I can personally assure you that it is a very real and very painful reality for a lot of people.
Emotional abuse is not something to joke about and it’s not a “less serious” form of abuse. It can be psychologically harmful and it changes the victim forever.
To those who have been emotionally abused in the past, you are so much more than what your abuser told you. You are a beautiful and wonderful human being who deserves better and if you are struggling, even if it’s been years since you broke off the toxic relationship, there is absolutely no shame in seeking help.
To those who think they may be in an emotionally abusive relationship, seek help. Not every relationship is the same so yours may not play out like the example, but I encourage you to talk to someone. Even during the times when your relationship seems happy and like things are turning around, seek help, because the cycle will repeat itself. I guarantee it.