What if Some Domestic Abuse Doesn’t Look Like Domestic Abuse

In our society, domestic abuse is frequently linked exclusively with physical violence. However, it’s essential to recognize that abuse can manifest in various forms, many of which are not immediately apparent. Let me shed some light on different forms of domestic abuse, their impact on mental health, and the importance of raising awareness. My goal is to empower and educate you on this often disregarded topic.

Domestic abuse includes a spectrum of harmful behaviors such as control, manipulation, threats, and intimidation within an intimate relationship. While physical violence is one aspect, it is vital to acknowledge other forms of abuse that can be equally damaging:

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

This type of abuse includes constant criticism, humiliation, manipulation, and gaslighting. These behaviors can make the victim feel as though they are losing their sanity, severely damaging their self-esteem and leaving long-lasting emotional scars.

Indicators of Emotional Abuse:

    • Constant Criticism: Persistent belittling, humiliation, or insults intended to undermine self-esteem and worth.
    • Manipulation and Control: Tactics like guilt-tripping, gaslighting, indifference, or withholding affection to exert power over the partner.
    • Isolation: Preventing the partner from interacting with friends, family, or support networks to create dependency.
    • Blaming and Shaming: Shifting blame onto the partner for the abuser’s actions or emotions and making them feel responsible for the abuse.
    • Threats and Intimidation: Creating a climate of fear and control through threats of harm, whether overt or covert.

Impact on Mental Health:

    • Low Self-Esteem and Self-Worth: Constant criticism can erode confidence.
    • Anxiety and Fear: Living in perpetual fear can lead to heightened anxiety and hypervigilance.
    • Depression and Hopelessness: Emotional abuse can lead to deep feelings of sadness and despair.
    • Trust and Relationship Issues: Survivors may struggle with trust and forming healthy relationships.
    • Emotional Detachment or Numbness: As a coping mechanism, some may become emotionally detached.
    • Guilt and Self-Blame: Victims often internalize blame for the abuse.
    • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts.
    • Social Isolation: Abusers often isolate their victims, exacerbating loneliness.
    • Substance Abuse and Self-Destructive Behaviors: Some turn to these as coping mechanisms.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse involves controlling finances, restricting access to money, or sabotaging the victim’s economic independence. This form of abuse can leave the victim feeling trapped and hopeless, as they may struggle to meet basic needs without support.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any non-consensual sexual activity or coercion within an intimate relationship. This violation of personal boundaries can have severe psychological consequences.

Digital Abuse

In the age of technology, digital abuse has become increasingly common. It includes monitoring, controlling, or harassing a partner through digital means, such as social media or text messages.

Steps to Take Action

    • Educate Yourself and Others: Learn about the different forms of abuse, their signs, and available resources. Share this knowledge within your community.
    • Support Survivors: Listen without judgment, offer empathy, and encourage professional help. Let survivors know they are not alone.
    • Advocate for Change: Support organizations that prevent domestic abuse and promote healthy relationships. Raise awareness through social media, community events, or volunteering.

That said, domestic abuse extends beyond physical violence, encompassing emotional, financial, sexual, and digital abuse. Recognizing the signs and understanding the impact on mental health is crucial for supporting survivors and breaking the cycle. By promoting awareness, education, and empathy, we can create a world where everyone feels safe, respected, and valued within their relationships.

Biblical Perspective

Reflecting on Romans 12:17-21, which advocates for peace and refraining from revenge, offers valuable lessons for both abusers and victims. It emphasizes respect and kindness, encouraging personal growth and resilience. For victims, it underscores the importance of responding to adversity with integrity, maintaining mental well-being, and fostering a sense of empowerment. This scripture encourages a transformative approach to domestic abuse, promoting empathy and respect while breaking the cycle of harm.

By embracing these principles, we can shift our perspective on domestic abuse, leading to meaningful change and converting pain into purpose.

 

How Suppressed Trauma Affects You

Suffering from the effects of trauma or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be expressed in many dysfunctional ways. When it is severely internalized, the one who has suppressed the trauma suffers even more. The people around this person are more than likely unaware that he or she is suffering at all because their internalization of the trauma is so effective. Or is it? They appear to be coping and interacting in life’s processes normally. But at what cost?

Unbeknownst to the onlookers, or even the person who is suffering from repressed trauma, it takes a great deal of energy to keep the trauma suppressed, because if it were to be released, the individual might experience a severe psychotic break or worse.

Where does the energy come from necessary to manage suppressed trauma?

The human body is a combination of mass and energy. The energy required to manage suppressed trauma is robbed from the body that hosts the trauma. This is the very same energy that is required for the body to function properly, so the body begins to deteriorate.

How does the body deteriorate due to suppressed trauma?

First and foremost, the immune system is compromised, so the person who is keeping the trauma buried deep within is prone to sickness, disease, and premature aging. Then energy is taken from the basic physiological and brain function, so organs begin to fail, bones may become brittle, depression begins to settle in, and cognition becomes problematic.

Explosive Traumatic Outbursts

Keeping all that trauma bottled up takes a lot of energy. Someone suffering from repressed trauma can get some relief by having an explosive traumatic outburst event. This is shocking to the unsuspecting onlookers who will be hard-pressed to try to make sense of this sudden break in character of their beloved family member, friend, or faithfully diligent employee.

Once completed, the outburst, which could take from hours to years, can offer a great deal of relief, and in a sense re-energize the individual suppressing the trauma giving them the ability to reset and have the energy necessary to resume a “normal” life once again.

Self-Medication

Many trauma suppressors release the pain from bottling it up by finding ways to let off steam and reenergize by engaging in high-risk activities periodically. These activities may be intimidating, even frightening, for most of us, but to them, they are highly effective coping mechanisms.

How might trauma suppressors self-medicate?

You might find them excessively “overing,” over-eating, over-drinking, over-spending, over-compensating, hoarding, gambling, using illicit drugs, engaging in criminal activity or sexually stimulating activity, having unprotected sex with strangers, or living a secret second life as a less desirable personality, among other methods of self-medication.

How do trauma suppressors affect other people’s lives?

If you genuinely care about someone who is actively hiding buried festering infectious wounds of unresolved trauma and abuse, accept the fact that this will be a tumultuous relationship. Expect broken promises, sudden surprises, hurt feelings, and ghosting, where this person may disappear without a word for periods of time or longer, even forever.

So, what’s the answer?

What can you do if you care about someone who is suppressing trauma?

Love them. As hard as you might try to help someone who is suppressing trauma, this is a highly individualized journey, and only they hold the keys to their own doing or undoing of this. Unraveling suppressed trauma is so complicated that there is no one way to assist someone through the process of overcoming trauma and abuse from the past, the trauma that for him or her is so individually horrific that the presence of it cannot be thought about or spoken of.

Can you help someone who is suppressing trauma?

Trying to help them will do you more harm than good. This is even a speculative proposition for experienced professionals. One who overcomes unresolved trauma will often seek different practitioners and modalities before finding the right combination of methodologies to successfully exit this mentally and potentially life-threatening affair.

CAUTION: Caring about someone who is dealing with unresolved past trauma or abuse can be traumatizing for you. Trying to help them? Even more.

The best thing you can do is to love them. Love them unconditionally if you can.

Try not to judge them. Pray for them, and send them all the love and energy from above and beyond you can because they need it.

 

How to Stop the Latent Abuse

You’ve been in an abusive relationship or a victim of abuse, and you’ve stopped the abuse. How do you stop the latent abuse? You found a way out, you were rescued, or you rescued yourself. Then you discover it didn’t stop the abuse. The abuse continues, it lingers. It digs at the deepest parts of you.

You’re like, “I’ve done all the work, I’m safe and free. Yet, it’s like I am still in the midst of it. Will I ever be free?”

This traumatic connection to your abuser allows the abuse to continue over time through an uncontrollable series of secondary emotional responses which are nearly, if not as, severe as when you actually were submitted to the abuse.

This latent abuse persists over time and can be more damaging than the abuse which triggers it because you may have only suffered the abuse once, but the latent abuse tarries and further abuses you over and over again.

This fits the definition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). When you suffer abuse at the hands of another, you are connected to that person. While you may be able to save yourself from the abuse by separating yourself from the abusive environment or situation, you are continually traumatized or re-abused by the thought of the abuse, or when triggered by anything remotely associated with the abuse.

If you are unable to cut the cord of this emotional connection to your abuser, he or she will have continued control over you for the rest of your life, causing you to suffer even more, even though he or she is not even there.

Most abusers do not take satisfaction over this continued abuse because they don’t even think about it, but if you’ve suffered at the hands of a psychopath, the continued abuse you suffer over time is their badge of honor. Psychopaths pride themselves in being able to continually hurt someone over a period of time, for life, even more so.

If you are the victim of latent abuse, the best advice to follow is to seek out a coach or counselor with some experience in helping others overcome the continued suffering of latent abuse or PTSD. This is serious business and there are hundreds of ways to deal with the lingering effect of latent trauma, some methods are more effective than others.

They key is to enable you to cut the cords which connect your abuser to you once and for all. When you suffer abuse at the hands of another, you are emotionally connected to the monster within your abuser. To truly be free, you must not only separate yourself from your abuse, but you must cut the emotional cord which connects you to the monster.

You can experience relief from latent trauma by using my Emotional Release Method (ERM). You don’t have to seek out professional help, and you can enjoy freedom from the emotional connection to your abuser. You will be able to recall the events from the past that traumatized you, without having to feel all the emotional pain associated with those memories.

Whatever method you use to cut the cord of emotional abuse, you will know you are truly free when you can recall the events without feeling the pain associated with the abuse. Then, and only then, will you be free to heal the emotional wounds and grow unencumbered by your abuser.

If you are like others who have suffered abuse in the past, you may ask yourself, “Why would I be subjected to such abuse?”

“Why?” is a disempowering question. Why stops all forward momentum for growth and can even put you in reverse (See: WHY = STOP + Reverse). Though, you might consider this:

No one is more qualified than you to reach out and help someone else from suffering this kind of abuse. In a sense, you’re being subject to this abuse has equipped you to help others who have suffered similar trauma.

This is a part of your journey.

Imagine turning all this latent trauma into a powerful weapon for good. Your experience can empower you to be a force for good, empowering others to change their lives, heal, grow, enjoy a better life, and make the world a better place.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Physical abuse is fairly easy to diagnose, while on the other hand, emotional abuse is more vague and can be confusing for someone who is not experienced in determining what is emotional abuse.

Physical abuse and emotional abuse share the same cycle of abuse. In this way, they are similar, though emotional abuse is often confused with difficult communication which is a necessary component in a successful relationship. It is important (non-abusive and respectful of the relationship) to understand what constitutes emotional abuse.

The effects of an emotional abuser often go unnoticed at first and build over time in a relationship, until it finally dawns on the victim that emotional abuse has occurred. Also, it is so easy to jump to a conclusion when your partner suddenly says or does something that you don’t like, then to accuse them of emotional abuse. Doing so would be a form of emotional abuse. ‘Ere the need to have your wits about you and know what is and what is not emotional abuse.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse comes in basically four categories, disrespect, controlling, accusatory, and isolative.

Disrespect

Disrespectful emotional abuse includes an underlying tone which threatens how you feel about yourself, is often critical, makes you feel valueless, or humiliated. Some of the verbal tools used by the emotional abuser may include words like, stupid, idiot, or retard.

They will assault your character, call you childish, or when they don’t like what you’re saying or doing, challenge you to, “act like a grownup,” suggest you, “put on your big boy pants,” or, “man up.”

They will take pot shots, embarrassing you in public, are sarcastic, insulting, and make you the brunt of their jokes in public. Off-screen, they assure you they were just joking, so you shouldn’t take it personally. After all, he or she was just having fun (at your expense).

They are patronizing, like, “Oh don’t worry your little self. No one would expect too much from you. You’re just doing the best you can with what you have.” Possibly accompanied by an eye-roll or some other gesture which communicates exactly how disrespectful they are being.

They push your buttons, to make you fly off the handle, then accuse you of lacking sanity or self-control.

And the worst of them are loud. They raise their voices, assert threatening postures, and/or other body language to intimidate or threaten you.

Controlling

Threats are a huge component for controllers. They will threaten to take off with your child, harm you (fully awake or in your sleep), your family, your friends, or pet, and if that doesn’t work, they may threaten to engage in self-harm or threaten to commit suicide to get you to comply with their demand, or threaten to leave and abandon you.

They need to know everything about you all the time; what you’re doing, where you’re doing it, in the presence of whom, and for how long. Often demanding a minute by minute play by play reporting. Any lack of verifiable evidence is cause for suspicion and false accusations, putting you on the defensive.

They are paranoid, always suspicious, and are susceptible to spying, digital monitoring, may even demand access to your phone, social media accounts, browsing history, and email.

They make promises they have no intention of keeping, and make decisions without consulting with you, which may include making plans, canceling plans, making financial decisions, or any other method of usurping their control over you with no regard for you or your input.

They go on and on, lecturing you to utter boredom, when all you can do is hear the dull roar of a sociopathic monologue, then they get mad and attack you because you’re not paying attention.

Controllers bark their demands, then expect you to “snap to,” in complete compliance without questioning their authority.

Expect controllers to suddenly blow up or emotionally explode when you forget the slightest detail of any demand they may have had (then brace yourself for another lengthy lecture or a laundry list of threats).

Trying to accommodate a controller might be enough to drive you crazy because they will be so constant and relentless with their demands and expectations, that no normal person could possibly keep up with it, which makes you inadequate in their eyes, and they won’t be shy about letting you know that you let them down, reminding you of your shortfalls periodically along the way.

Accusatory

You are to blame for everything while they remain superior and flawless. Better get used to everything being your fault.

They excel at being green monsters of jealousy with the potential to go into an accusatory rage because you are an unfaithful cheater and cannot be trusted.

They will flip any unfortunate circumstance to be your fault, even if it was clearly their doing that presented the difficult situation.

Do not accept any responsibility from the accusatory emotional abuser because they never do anything wrong. If it’s not you they are blaming, it’s someone or something else. They are always the victim.

If you try to get them to own up to their abuse, oh no, it’s not their being abusive, it’s you who is the abuser. Wake up and get it straight.

You will always be indebted to them so they can use guilt to persuade you to comply because of what they did for you, and you owe them.

And if you caught them red-handed in the act? Nope. Didn’t happen. They weren’t even there and had nothing to do with it. It’s all just your jealous overactive imagination and unbridled insecurity which makes you crazy and delusional.

Isolative

They will create a social vacuum for you to exist within, where nothing else exists except for you and the emotional abuser. Say, “goodbye” to family and friends because the emotional abuser wants you totally dependent on him or her for any of your needs.

And your needs will never be as important as the emotional abuser’s needs, so don’t expect many of them to be provided because his or her needs will always come before yours.

The emotional abuse will be framed in a construct of militaristic restraints. You will be expected to comply with your emotional abuser’s demands, or else. Not unlike an abusive Drill Sergeant, you are expected to, “Jump when I say jump.” And your response better not be, “Why?” It better be, “How high?” followed by your body being in the air or else you will suffer the consequences.

Alternatively, the isolative emotional abuser will isolate you from him or her, punishing you by cutting you off, ignoring you, refusing to communicate with you, or withholding positive attention, intimacy, or sex.

If you try to express your concerns, they will belittle you, accuse you of being needy or immature. If you react by responding emotionally or be moved to tears, they will not acknowledge your feelings and ignore or act annoyed by your being emotionally expressive, which is clearly unacceptable behavior.

What is not emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is not your partner’s response which is not what you want to hear. Everyone is different, we all have our own ideas about what we want and how we expect to be treated in a relationship. You must respect your partner’s right to express him- or herself in any way that works for him or her.

Disagreeing, arguing, even fighting amongst couples is not necessarily emotional abuse even though it can cause you emotional pain. Difficult conversations even fighting are necessary parts of a deeply personal relationship between two different people.

When someone asserts how they feel, which may be blunt, and can potentially hurt your feelings, try not to take it personally. Everyone is entitled to feel how they feel, and you should feel blessed that they feel safe enough to let you get access to these deepest parts of them which are probably hidden from others in their life.

Yelling does not indicate emotional abuse, although a hysterical emotional outburst would probably be a tool used by the emotional abuser. In a healthy relationship, if someone temporarily loses emotional control, a healthy couple will take a break, allow the emotions to calm, then talk it out.

Raising one’s voice can be a learned method of communication for expressing one’s self. As this person grows, he or she might be able to learn new methods of communication as you grow as a couple and learn more positive forms of communication.

Unless it is a threat used to control you, it is not emotionally abusive to end a relationship. This happens and should be honored, with as much grace as your ability to muster, even though it may feel as if it is devastating.

Healthy communication is the holy grail of successful relationships.