#HCAwarenessWeek: Domestic Violence; The Truth Behind Emotional Abuse

Abuse from a partner can show itself in more forms than violence. Just because there is no physical evidence of trauma occurring in a relationship, does not mean that abuse isn’t happening. Emotional abuse can be as dangerous as domestic abuse, and it’s time we talk about it.

The hardest part of emotional abuse is recognizing that it’s happening. A huge aspect of emotional abuse is manipulation. It’s hard to believe that someone who is supposed to be your everything turns out to be deceiving, conniving and toxic to your health for their own selfish benefit. By manipulating the victim, the partner at fault aims to isolate and control the victim’s life as much as possible. It’s hard to believe, but it happens more often than we’d like to think.

Emotional abuse is a long, painful process full of confusion and self-doubt. Without physical evidence of violence, victims of emotional abuse are left in an invisible, distorted world of insecurity and instability.

Manipulation can appear in many different ways that can be mistaken for “normal” behavior, like tracking location, checking phones and limiting the time spent with friends and family.

According to Safe Horizon, nearly 90 percent of victims have experienced their partner insulting family and friends, 93 percent have experienced economic abuse, or preventing a partner from working, and 31 percent actually quit their careers due to their partner's emotionally abusive behavior. 

The goal is to isolate the victim as much as possible and to ultimately have complete control over their life. When you’re young and in love, it’s so difficult to see past these signs and realize how far is too far.

This kind of behavior can also go to the extreme. Personally, I’ve experienced staying in an extremely unhappy relationship because my partner at the time had threatened suicide. Especially when you’re young, you feel as though you have no choice but to stay. No way out, with no one that you feel you can go to for help without the threats of your partner becoming a reality.

According to ReachOut, emotional abuse can be as destructive as physical abuse. In some instances, emotional abuse is used within a physically violent relationship in order to maintain control over a victim. 

All of these tactics are a sort of “bluff”–aiming to gain complete control over somebody, abusing a partners state of mind until they feel they have no choice but stay in the relationship because of the fear of leaving. It’s terrifying.

The scars left behind are not physically visible, but the damage to the victim’s emotional stability is a lifelong journey of recovering and learning to build trust with every relationship that comes their way. If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, remember to know your worth and that nobody deserves to take your happiness.

This article was written as part of HC at WVU's Domestic Violence Awareness Week. If you or someone you know is struggling from a domestic violence situation, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.