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Speaking out against psychological abuse

We all hear the horror stories of domestic violence. The media reports the most egregious cases. And every one of us working in this field stop and we mourn for those victims. We feel it deeply. And sometimes that story will stay in the public eye for a while and our organizations and therefore our clients may benefit from it. But then after a while things disappear from the public consciousness and we are left to continue fighting. We are left to do the work of “homicide prevention” as a colleague of mine once coined it. And it is indeed “homicide prevention.” But it is certainly not an exact science.

Verbal-Abuse

Domestic violence is insidious. We all know it rarely starts off physical. More often than not it is extremely subtle, starting off with comments or actions that by themselves would not even be considered abuse. Those comments and actions, however, are part of a bigger pattern of thinking, a belief system that weaves itself into the mind of abuse victims. And it happens so slowly and subtly that they begin to think they are crazy. They begin to doubt their own beliefs about themselves and their reality until they end up in a fog of pain and confusion. This kind of abuse is much more difficult to be spotted by an outsider than a black eye. It’s much harder to see even by their friends and family. As we all know this type of abuse is much worse than a black eye or a busted rib. It takes much longer for victims to untie the emotional knots twisted inside them than for those injuries to heal. And we also know this type of abuse is often not even recognized as abuse and therefore not taken seriously. As advocates we do take it seriously and we verbalize that. But we often get resistance from our family, our friends, our co-workers, our significant others and society in general. That’s because those belief systems that foster abuse are everywhere in our society. Most times people don’t even know they perpetuate it. That’s why it’s so important for us to continue to speak up. We know what it looks like.  We know what it does to people. We know how it destroys lives. The next time a friend or family member tells you that you’re just being “too sensitive” tell them you’d rather err on the side of caution.  Because you just might prevent a future homicide.