You may have expected the subject of my Valentine’s Newsletter to be all about hearts and flowers, and loving each other more. Of course I want all that for you; and I also know that loving yourself more must be your most important priority. That’s why on this Valentine’s Day, I want to talk with you about abuse, and how to recognize it in your life. So I’m going to jump right into the subject.
Physical and emotional abuse always go together. Physical abuse is easier to recognize. If a woman is being physically abused by her partner (or vice versa) there is usually tangible evidence of the abusive act or acts: bruising, scarring, broken bones, swelling, etc. Though the victim may do their best to try and hide their injuries, the physical evidence is there; and it will also have emotional consequences. The victim could become withdrawn, or feel angry, anxious, depressed, shame-filled, suicidal; even guilty that they have somehow provoked the violence.
Emotional abuse can be overt or subtle, but it’s abuse nevertheless. It can manifest as control, manipulation, demeaning language, sabotage, invalidation, paranoia, anger, guilt trips, withholding affection, threats, etc.
You cannot experience one type of abuse without the other also being present. When the abuse seems to be only on an emotional level, it’s usually much harder to recognize and admit to by both parties. There may be no evidence of physical abuse on the outside, because the abuser has not touched his or her victim physically. However, I believe that physical abuse still occurs. The stress of living with abuse of ANY kind causes damage to every cell in the body; and it also alters the brain. If emotional abuse is ongoing, there could be a breaking point, causing the abuser or the victim to resort to physical violence.
When a partner is the being physically abusive, it’s important to recognize that you are in an abusive relationship, and get help immediately. Find support to help you leave that situation, and get to a safer place.
What about when emotionally abusive behavior is perpetrated upon us by friends, family, co-workers, your boss, strangers, etc. What do you do then? At work there are laws to protect you, but in reporting abuse you also risk being fired; having the abuser escalate his/her behavior; or being ostracized by your co-workers, who may not like the fact that you are a whistle-blower. You can either leave your job; or take the risks mentioned, and report the abuse. I’ve experienced all these work situations, and though it wasn’t easy, I am happy that I remained in integrity; and ultimately had much less stress in my life. Abusers must be named as such.
Strangers are easier to deal with. You can remove yourself from a temporarily abusive situation. Walk away. Do not engage with them. Friends are a different challenge. If a friend continues being abusive, invalidating, judgmental, demeaning, etc. divorce them! No one needs friends like these.
The same rules apply for abusive family members. Just because you are related, does not mean that you have to tolerate their abusive behavior. Suggest that you go to family counseling together; or to a relationship coach, so you can learn new ways of communicating with each other. Allow some time for both of you to practice new behaviors; and keep your boundaries strong and healthy.
The most important thing is to KNOW that you are being abused. If you are made to feel small, invisible, insignificant; that it’s always your fault; and you feel unheard, unloved, disrespected, manipulated, controlled, then you are being emotionally abused. Get some support to help you communicate with the abuser differently. Again, I must stress that if the abuse is physical in ANY way, and that means even pushing, and shoving, then you must remove yourself immediately. If you have children, you owe it to them to model healthy behaviors by getting away from the abuser.
Whatever the situation, LOVE YOURSELF MORE, so that you can to change your circumstance. That’s the best Valentine’s Gift you can give yourself. If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, have the courage to tell them that you recognize the symptoms of abuse they are experiencing; because they may not be able to admit this to themselves. If you know someone who is an abuser, do them the same favor, and call it what it is – abuse. Abusers, and those being abused, may get angry with you for being so forthright, but in the end, they will feel a sense of relief. You helped them KNOW something consciously that they have been hiding for too long.
If you need help learning how to communicate your feelings more appropriately; and you’d like some strategic support to help you change your life for the better, please contact me. For the rest of February, I’m offering a FREE Strategic Relationship Coaching Consultation to help you bring into consciousness what your next step to a magnificent life should be. First come, first served, as I have a limited number of slots available. Email me now to book your Free Session: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help someone you know by sharing my Newsletter with them. Please spread the word that abuse cannot be tolerated.
I wish you the Courage to KNOW…