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Episode 6: Signs And Symptoms Of Domestic Violence

Part Three: Forms of Abuse – Verbal and Emotional Abuse

 
Verbal Abuse

Sometimes the abuser uses intimidating verbal abuse and language, to strike fear into the heart of his victim, in the same way that a lion roars before it attacks its prey. The prey is so afraid that it loses all power of reason. It becomes paralyzed and literally defeated in the presence of its great enemy, before the lion even pounces.

  • Does he abuse you, shouting loudly even when the children are around?
  • Are you constantly belittled and told its all your fault, and that you’re no good?
  • Are you told that you are stupid, worthless, and called a dummy?
  • Are you shouted at, and made to feel as if you don’t have a brain of your own?
  • Are you called derogatory names, and utterly humiliated in private as well as in public?
 
Emotional Abuse

This takes place when you are being controlled in the relationship by being emotionally blackmailed. When you are made to feel as if you have no choice in anything, especially if you are to be allowed to remain in a relationship with your partner. When he makes you feel as if it’s your job to make and keep him happy, even if that involves detriment to your own soul and happiness.

When your ‘no’ is not, good enough, respected or even heard, this is emotional abuse. Every human being has the right to have an opinion, and a viewpoint. Everyone is therefore entitled to express themselves, without having the fear of repercussion. Alarm bells therefore should always start to go off, if you are being restrained and greatly restricted in any way.

When other people impose their will over yours, when they feel their rights are more important than yours, you need to know that this is not healthy, and something is definitely not right! This is not a good setup! The truth is that you don’t have to accept this as your lot in life. You don’t have to roll over and be a door mat, accepting it as the only reality possible.

  • Why should you be resigned to allowing others to violate you?
  • Why is it alright for them to feel they can?
  • Why do you allow other people to do that to you?

 

When you are told……

“I will love you if ……”

“I will stop loving you if……”

“If you really loved me you would do X….Y….Z”

When you are made to feel as if love will be withdrawn, because the abuser’s conditions are not being met, then you should know that this can never be real love, and it is at this point that you need to realize that your well – being is at stake big time!

When he threatens to hurt or kill himself if you don’t do what he says or wants, he is manipulating and emotionally abusing you. This is usually a sure sign of things to come, and an indication that things will inevitably escalate, into abuse including physical aggression and violence at some point.

I remember being on duty one evening and a lady that had recently moved into the refuge came into the office to see me. I handed her a letter that had arrived for her in the post. She looked at it, then at me, then she burst into tears! When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “I am crying because this is the first time, I have ever been allowed to open my own post! It is very emotional for me because I have never had the experience before!” I must admit I was absolutely stunned by her admission, and by the reality of how domestic violence violates people’s rights, on the most basic of levels!

Truthfully if you know what to look for, there are usually tell-tale signs. So domestic violence does not need to be something that creeps up on you! If you are not however adequately informed and aware, it is possible to miss all the clues until it is too late. Before long, the first punch, kick, or slap is thrown, before you even get a chance to take it all in!

Love is something that was meant to be given freely. When you receive and give it, this process is supposed to be one that sets you heart free to soar like an eagle! True love is not supposed to put you in chains and make you feel as if there is some kind of a noose or yoke around your neck! (Metaphorically speaking). This completely defeats the object!

A good and healthy relationship therefore should empower you, instead of leaving you feeling helpless, hopeless, depressed and trapped! A good and healthy relationship is not characterized by someone always playing ‘mind games,’ to the point that you never know whether you are coming or going.

When your partner calls you degrading names, humiliates you, puts you down all the time, making you feel as small as possible at every opportunity, this is emotional abuse. When they get a kick out of degrading you and stripping you of all dignity, when they make you feel as if you are subhuman or less, in public and private, emotional abuse is at its best!

You are being emotionally abused when you are blamed for everything that goes wrong. When you are intimidated into doing things that you would not ordinarily do if you had the choice. When you are made to feel as if you are worth nothing, as if you are totally inadequate in every area, and not even worth loving…this is emotional abuse!

  • Does he cry, apologize, and behave as if he’s truly sorry for what he did to you?
  • Do you melt and go all gooey at the sight of his tears?
  • Has it ever crossed your mind that they could very well be crocodile tears?
  • Is it possible that this has become nothing more to him than a game and a senseless habit?
  • Does he swear it will never happen again?
  • Do you feel you still desperately love the man who hurts you?
  • Even if you managed to physically separate yourself from him, do you still feel compelled to have contact, whether that is by phone, text or other social media avenues?
  • Does he tell you he loves you so much, as if that is supposed to wipe the slate clean and make everything alright?
  • Does he throw tantrums to get his own way?
  • Does he use the threat of killing himself to blackmail you?
  • Does he manipulate the kids, buying them things in an effort to confuse them and turn them against you?

 

When you are isolated from family and friends, made to feel completely alone, and as if the threat of harm looms over you, you are obviously less likely to fight for your rights. Your abuser takes full advantage of his position of power, knowing that he has you right where he wants you.

  • Do family and friends seem uncomfortable and shocked when you share scenarios of what it is like at home?
  • Are friends and family afraid for you?
  • Does he go as far as even threatening your family members if you don’t do what he wants?
  • Do you make excuses for his bad attitude and disgusting behaviour, including the shocking way he treats you?
  • Is he paranoid, often accusing your friends and family of looking down on him, talking about him and judging him?
  • When they express concern for you, do you usually habitually just brush it aside automatically?
  • Do you try to convince them that you can handle and tame him?
  • Do you get nervous whenever he is around?
  • Do you feel able to talk freely when he enters the room, or do you find yourself going into ‘walking on eggshells mode?’
  • Are you always afraid you will say the wrong thing, because from past experience you always manage to, according to him?
  • Does he blame you in some perverse way for his own unacceptable behaviour? Does he hit you for instance, and then blame you for making him do it?
  • Does he blame you for making him upset and angry?
  • Do you apologize for things that you’re not even guilty of, just to try in vain to keep the peace and not make him angry?
  • Instead of accepting responsibility for his own behaviour, does he try to deflect and use, distraction tactics, to attempt to place the blame on you, instead of where it rightfully should go?
  • Does he blame everyone but himself for the problems within the relationship?

 

The truth is that you are not responsible for someone else’s behaviour. What you choose to do about it, however, will determine what happens at the end of your story. You can certainly decide how to react to the way you are being treated and put a stop to such abuse once and for all! It does not actually matter how powerless you may have been made to feel, the reality is that you are the one who does have the power to change things. It will not be easy, but it is possible, with the right help and support.

  • Does he successfully make you feel frightened and as if you are in danger, every minute of every day? If he does, you are being emotionally abused.
  • Is he so controlling that he makes you feel as if he literally owns you because, he is successfully controlling every area of your life?
  • Does he take it to such levels, that he actually believes he has the right, to determine even what and when you and your children eat?
  • Do you ever catch yourself telling others, “he would not put up with that!”
  • Does he say things like, “If it’s good enough for me then it is good enough for you and anyone else around here!”
  • Does he check up on you every chance he gets?
  • Does he watch the clock and time you when you have been out?
  • Does he interrogate you with twenty questions about where you have been when you return?
  • Does he ask you who you have been with, or spoken to?
  • Does he accuse you falsely of having an affair?
  • Does he force you to have sex, even in front of the children?
  • Does he blame everything and everyone except himself?
  • If you go out anywhere, does he ring and text you so much that you feel you might as well be at home with him?
  • Does he stare you out and intimidate you, into backing down at every opportunity he gets?
  • Would he rather scrounge off you than get a job?
  • Does he manipulate you by withholding necessities like money and food?
  • Has he ever wounded you by being unfaithful to you?
  • Has he ever forced you into prostitution and then taken the money?
  • Do you feel owned by him as if you are his property?

 

If and when he does these things, he is taking away your power of choice. On the one hand it humiliates you, and at the same time it makes him feel even more powerful. As far as he is concerned, he is a legend in his own mind, so this sort of behaviour reinforces his fantasy, ‘that he is king of the world!’

Whenever you find the one who is supposed to protect, love and care for you the most, is actually the same person who is attacking, threatening and frightening you, this can be incredibly confusing and particularly painful. It is disheartening and soul destroying to say the least, and difficult to see any reason to pick yourself up and be encouraged. With all the available help out there however, that is exactly what you must do!

Amira had been married to her ex-husband Imran for sixteen years. Apparently, Imran drank a lot. He had promised to stop drinking the year before, but this never materialized. Whenever he was drunk, things escalated, and he was even more nasty than usual. On top of that, he taught the kids to lie by his example.

Tensions had been rising steadily over the years, so one night she had an argument with him over a remote control. He spat at her with contempt as he verbally abused her. He pushed her and threatened that he would not allow her to run away, but that she was going to die by his hands. At the end of the evening, he changed his mind and told her to leave, even though she had nowhere to go!

The following morning, Amira asked (Imran who drives) to take their son to schools. Their son went to a different school from their daughters, and Amira obviously couldn’t take all the children to where they needed to be, by herself. Imran refused to help at all. Amira took her son to school by train, but inevitably he got there very late unfortunately.

A little later on that day, Amira received a call from her son’s school. She couldn’t talk then because her husband was in the room. When she went to collect him at home time, she was called into the office. She was informed that her son had been very upset at school. She was told that he had disclosed that his dad had pushed him down the stairs and hit him in the head. At this point, Amira was then given two options. She was told that if she went home, all of her children would be taken into foster care. (They had already been down this road before and had been very unhappy). She was also told that the other option was for her and the children to go into a place of safety. She chose the latter, and she and the children were then accompanied to a refuge. Social services also got involved to offer the family support.

By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

“Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”