Abuse doesn’t look like abuse
by Velda (June 5th 2013)
There’s a very helpful article making its rounds, called Drowning Does Not Look like Drowning. I’ve never seen someone on the verge of drowning — or at least I don’t think I have! I searched for a video of what the article describes, and found this:
The video quality is a bit rough, and I can’t quite see what’s going on with the person in trouble here. The thing that startles me is how many people are so near him and don’t even notice!
Now that you’ve seen what drowning looks like, do you know what abuse looks like? From Helpguide.org. People who are being abused may:
- Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner
- Go along with everything their partner says and does
- Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing
- Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner
- Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness
- Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
- Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation
- Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors)
- [my addition] Get “sick” a lot
- Be restricted from seeing family and friends
- Rarely go out in public without their partner
- Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car
- Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident
- Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)
- Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal
Of course that’s not to say everyone doing any of these things is being abused, but many of these are at least a good sign they are in distress of some kind and need help. Start by just being their friend — even if they seem distant. Even if you don’t know them that well. The people they know well probably haven’t noticed, or may be too close to the abuser to believe there’s an issue. You can also hook them up with some resources. Just don’t judge or blame them for getting into or being stuck in a relationship like that. Believe it or not, it’s not as easy as it looks :-p
“One of the obstacles to recognizing chronic mistreatment in relationships is that most abusive men simply don’t seem like abusers. They have many good qualities, including times of kindness, warmth, and humor, especially in the early period of a relationship. An abuser’s friends may think the world of him. He may have a successful work life and have no problems with drugs or alcohol. He may simply not fit anyone’s image of a cruel or intimidating person. So when a woman feels her relationship spinning out of control, it is unlikely to occur to her that her partner is an abuser.
The symptoms of abuse are there, and the woman usually sees them: the escalating frequency of put-downs. Early generosity turning more and more to selfishness. Verbal explosions when he is irritated or when he doesn’t get his way. Her grievances constantly turned around on her, so that everything is her own fault. His growing attitude that he knows what is good for her better than she does. And, in many relationships, a mounting sense of fear or intimidation. But the woman also sees that her partner is a human being who can be caring and affectionate at times, and she loves him. She wants to figure out why he gets so upset, so that she can help him break his pattern of ups and downs. She gets drawn into the complexities of his inner world, trying to uncover clues, moving pieces around in an attempt to solve an elaborate puzzle.” from Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men
I write this because I see the signs in people I know and care about. Maybe even in you.
Verbal and Emotional abuse are forms of abuse that can cause untold damage to a person emotionally and psychologically. Domestic abuse does not just involve physical abuse, it can manifest in many forms. Often a physically abusive relationships will have been emotionally abusive for many years before anything physical happened. Emotional and verbal abuse often never turns into physical abuse.
Abuse damages in whatever form it takes and here at Many Small Voices we hope to gather the stories of those who have survived abuse into one resource to help and support those who are still victims. We also hope to support survivors through recovery once the abuse has stopped because the scars are still there and will remain forever. Support after abuse is just as important.
We are not experts, just people who are passionate that domestic abuse, in whatever form it takes, must be stopped.
If you think you or someone you know needs help please take a look in our links page to find a list of organisations that strive to help support victims of abuse.
We are looking for your stories of abuse to feature on our blog and make many small voices one LOUD voice. We will protect your anonymity at all times should you wish to remain anonymous, so please contact us for more details.
Many Small Voices To Make One Big Voice Speaking Out Against Domestic Abuse.