I’m currently in the midst of doing research for my next book on teen issues which will be coming out this spring. One of the significant sections of the book will be dating abuse. Many of the young girls who I’m speaking with tell me that their parents had no idea that they were being abused by their boyfriends. Why didn’t the parents know? Because there were no visible bruises. The abuse was emotional and verbal.
One in every four women experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Usually, we think of a physically battered woman – someone with a black eye or bruises on her body. The reality is, abuse comes in many forms and, unfortunately, when it’s emotional or verbal abuse the bruises are not so obvious. But, the damage can be just as devastating.
Many women who are the victims of emotional abuse suffer in silence. They convince themselves that they’re over-reacting or somehow they caused the anger and degradation. They defend their boyfriend’s controlling behavior as a sign of love. News flash! If your boyfriend checks every text that comes into your phone and wants you to report where you are every minute of the day, that is not love!
Pretty soon, these women start rationalizing the name calling and the power plays that they are subjected to. It takes tremendous courage to admit you are being emotionally and/or verbally abused because there’s a fear you won’t be believed. And, unfortunately this often is the case.
Stop and look around at your sisters, daughters, mothers and friends. Don’t assume that their relationship is OK just because you don’t see bruises. Don’t dismiss their requests for help and tell them that “every couple has arguments.” If they appear stressed, scared and/or sad, stop and ask them what’s going on.
For every girl or women out there who might be questioning if she is in an abusive emotionally or verbally abusive relationship here are a few signs:
- You are called degrading names and told you are stupid, ugly, slovenly or a slut. You are told that no one else would ever love you.
- Fights are twisted around to the point you are apologizing and you’re not even sure why
- Your partner expects you to check in every minute of the day. He checks your texts and dictates who you can hang out with
If you finally get the courage to leave, expect that he will try to spread rumors about you and turn friends against you. It’s not easy. Seek out help from therapists, family and true friends. It can be a long, painful road but at the end you will become a stronger woman who understands she is beautiful, smart and deserves a person who respects her and truly cares for her.