You Are Not Alone
Psychological Abuse is Intimate Partner Violence, Too
October 31, 2016
I keep trying to figure out how to write about it because I can’t make it pretty. I can’t make it less devastating. It happened and I’m still learning from it. I have leftover pieces of truth that are still broken. Detached. I am just getting comfortable with self-honesty, how am I supposed to be honest outwardly? I am not ready to be that vulnerable. So, here goes something…
Psychological abuse is something akin to carbon monoxide. Invisible, difficult to detect and deadly. It is the intentional dismantling of someone’s psyche. It is painful, embarrassing, and unsettling in ways that are difficult to depict in writing. There are no after school specials or Tyler Perry movies about it. I never read any Terry McMillian books or Nikki Giovanni poems that talked about it. It wasn’t a theme on A Different World or Living Single. If Oprah did a special on it I missed it. My point is: I never even saw it coming.
…And I keep asking myself: is it abuse if the perpetrator doesn’t know what they’re doing is wrong? I mean, we all unintentionally hurt people in our lives. That one conversation where someone describes their devastation on account of something you did “to” them; but you’re left in complete shock because you had no idea they felt that way. I can identify with unintentional, most of us can problem is, manipulation can appear unintentional. It’s tricky that way.
Physical abuse is definite. Someone hit you. You know from kindergarten that hitting is wrong. Verbal abuse is definite. Someone calls you a bitch. You know from kindergarten name calling is wrong. Psychological abuse is less obvious. It is the subtle and methodical process of breaking down one’s spirit. It weakens you small pieces at a time so you almost think you can handle it. It’s someone telling you they lied because you’re too sensitive. Someone rolling over after sex and calling you needy because you want to cuddle. It’s being told that you are incapable of doing things—anything—well. Unless of course you are needed to do something for them. It is that argument where your ineptness is to blame for their infidelity. When your sanity is in question and you know you remember accurately. It is the person you love threatening to leave or end the relationship every time you disagree with them. It’s walking on egg shells. It is manipulation. It is gaslighting. It is tactical. It’s knowing you are worth more, but “your person” acting like you are worthless. It’s loosing yourself at the insistence of another and then being told you are weak.
Don’t ever tell me words don’t matter.
Women, we take on so much. We are taught to juggle. We are taught to hold on. We are taught to compensate. We are cultivated to be helpers in society. So, I thought I could handle this relationship without it damaging me. I prided myself on being strong. Now, I realize that was the problem. I thought I was supposed to endure. Sacrifice myself for the greater good… Lesson learned: there are no Martyrs in love.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but intimate partner violence is a problem every day! So today, I want to remind you of this message. 1 in 3 women will experience some form of intimate partner violence during their lifetime. 48% of women will experience some form of psychological or emotional abuse. Learn the signs. You can’t protect yourself from what you don’t know about. And remember this is not just a heterosexual problem. Greater than 17% of lesbians experience physical abuse from an intimate partner and at least 24% of have reported some form of psychological abuse.
It’s time to STOP THE ABUSE!
You are not crazy. You are not worthless. You are not to blame for anyone's horrible ways. It’s misleading to say that people only act the way you allow them too. They don’t know the way you stood up for yourself. They don’t know how many nights you prayed. They don’t know the trauma you endured, the control you were under or how you struggled to leave what sometimes seemed so good. They don’t know your battle. They don't know how close to being broken you felt. But I do. You are not alone.
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