Abuse is not just about bruises and cuts. It can manifest itself in several forms, each just as harmful as the others.
Emotional abuse can be as overt as calling someone names or embarrassing them in a public place, to more subtle things, like manipulation, lack of respect, condescension, or making someone feel guilty or stupid for not doing what the other person wants. Sometimes, we can even go about our daily lives without realizing that our friend or partner is engaging in these behaviors, only to realize months later how disgusting they were, and naïve we acted.
My relationship felt fine while it was going on. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and if my boyfriend ever did something that seemed off to me, I either brushed it aside or made an excuse for him. After all, he was my boyfriend, and I was his faithful and ever-caring girlfriend. It was only after he broke up with me that I had time to reflect on the relationship and realize that everything wasn’t peachy keen as I thought I remembered.
I started remembering the little moments – like when he would make me feel stupid for my date-night ideas. I’d suggest a nice walk around town or a coffee-date, but he’d scoff and tell me it was the last time he’d let me pick something. Or when he’d constantly compare me to his last girlfriend – her hair was “prettier”, she was “smarter”, and sure, she was a “total bitch”, but at least she’d have plenty of sex with him.
Later on I would remember the manipulation, the clever ways he would get me to do exactly what he wanted. He always acted like a sage around me, blessing me with his hard-earned “wisdom”. I was the ignorant, silly little girl that knew nothing, but if I only listened to him, he would teach me everything about happiness, success, and pleasure. If I said no to something, he would guilt-trip me, and tell me I was being immature. If I said nothing at all, he would take my silence as accordance. When I cried, he did not hold me.
Lastly I remembered the way he just made me feel. Small and insignificant, expendable – like I was a drain and burden that should feel lucky he was putting up with me at all. He was obviously wrong, but at the time, I felt like he was the one who was right.
Like most people, I’ve kept up with his social media every once in awhile out of curiosity. I learned not too long ago that he has a new girlfriend believe it or not, one he’s had for several months now. If I had the chance to speak with her, I’d tell her to run. Run, and please don’t look back.
If you need help or support, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-787-3224).