put down

shh

“Mom, is that you? Am I in a hospital?” her daughter asked.

“Yes, you are in the hospital, sweetie, but you are going to be ok, everything is going to get better now.”

“My arm hurts, what happened? I don’t even remember........” her daughter said in a slow, quiet voice.

She drew a large breath and steeled herself to respond as calmly and softly as she could, “You were shot in the arm. You have a serious wound. The doctor says you will still have full function but there will be a big scar.” She gently patted her daughter's IV infested hand. “It will be ok. We’ll get through this. I’m always gonna be here for you, baby.”

“He was so mad, I seem to remember.....”

“Yes, sweetie, your husband is the one who shot you in the arm. He shot your son too, in the leg, but the doctor says that the wound was mostly superficial and there won’t be much of a scar. The police have him in custody now.”

Tears rolled down her daughter’s face and trickled onto her hospital gown. “I never thought he would do that.”

She just nodded softly and stroked her daughter’s arm delicately. “I did.” She thought to herself, “I knew that it was going to get worse and worse.” But she kept her thoughts to herself, for now. There was a lot of healing and work ahead.

That isn’t a true story, at least, I don’t know of anyone who was shot by their partner, but it could be a real life event. I made it up based on what I have read, heard, imagined and experienced personally. How would I feel if someone harmed my babies? What would go through my mind if I was sitting by my daughter’s side at the hospital after she had been harmed by her partner? We never know precisely when someone will snap, we can’t determine exactly when we should leave because we haven’t really been taught the warning signs. It certainly wasn't discussed in any class I took in school or even college. Most women I know who are in abusive relationships don’t even realize they are because often the abuse isn’t physical and that is what makes it so much harder to realize. I didn’t. When I was a very young woman I was in an emotionally abusive relationship and it was not until years afterwards, when I was in a healthy one that I realized how close I was to losing myself, my soul or my life. I also saw my best friend go through a similar relationship, not a bruise, not a scratch, not a bit of contact but the daggers still cut deep. He was a wealthy, succesful business man and she was a successful career woman. Emotional abuse does not have cultural, social, economic, ethical, religious or gender lines. The wounds linger for years.The volcano can be dormant for long periods.

speak out hands

Part of the problem is that we are only in the infancy stage of defining and educating our daughters on what to look for, the signs, the signals that abusers both physical and emotional use on their prey. And you are prey to them, never doubt that, after you leave them they will be looking for your replacement. In my grandmother’s generation one simply did not even talk about it- everyone in town pretended they did not see their neighbor’s black eye or bruised cheek, “It’s none of our business.” Abusers are looking for the weak of the pack, the vulnerable one at the fringe of the herd that is easy to take down. Those with insecurities and who lack self confidence are ripe for their picking. After you have been freed and learn about relationship abuse you will think about a particualr moment when the warning light went off, “That was it! That should have been my first clue!” But how can you know if you weren’t educated? If life were that simple therapists would be out of work. Don’t blame yourself, because that’s partly how you got into that relationship in the first place. You always think everything is your fault.

There is one sign that the person you just met may possibly be an emotional abuser, do they make you feel uncomfortable in anyway? Don't go on a second date. However, that's pretty easy to say, usually they are charming and funny and attractive EXCEPT the funny is at your expense. That's a warning sign. For example, you are walking along and you stumble on a crack in the pavement, "Ha! You're kind of klutzy, aren't you? I'm going to have to teach you how to walk properly." DING DING! Warning sign right there, did you catch it? "I'm going to have to....." A better respinse would have been, "Oh, are you alright?" Second or third date and they already think you need training? Here's another one, "Wow, that's quite a sexy waitress we have!" Do you see the problem here? Yes, that's right, why is he checking out women while he is on a date with you? And why does he think he can say his thought out loud to you? Warning sign. During the first weeks and months of a relationship both people in a realtionship should be floating aound as if no one else in the world exists- he should make you feel that you are Angelina Jolie, Ronda Rousey, Sophia Loren and Kamala Harris; brains, strength and beauty all in one perfect package- in fact, he should think that way about you all the time, even 10 years later. It is okay to occasionally point out an attractive person to your partner but words and semantics mean everything and should not be overlooked. "I thought our server was really attractive, did you?" is different from, "Wow, that's quite a sexy waitress we have!". One is an observation, one is comparing you to someone else. If they are attractive, funny and charming but at your expense then it's a warning sign. Can you fix them? Ah, that's the problem, we women are raised to be the 'fixer', the 'mom', the 'care giver' so when we see an orphan we want to pick it up and take care of it. Sadly, no, you cannot fix them. Let me say that a different way, "NO! You cannot fix them!" Thank them very much for the dinner or movie and move on. One of the main reasons you can't fix them is because they don't think they are broken. They think YOU are the broken one. You are not and the longer you stay the more they will beat you down until you believe, really believe, way down deep in your bones that YOU are the broken one. Leave. Walk away. In fact, RUN! Get the hell away.

running legs

But, you say, "You don't understand, it's not their fault. They had a hard life." Their dad was mean to them. Or their mom. Or the coach. Or a teacher in elementary school. Or a boss. Or a................ (fill in the blank). You see that's another signal to you; they are never the problem. Their problems are all caused by someone else, they do not own or take responsibilty for their problems. However, they will attempt to school you on how irresponsible you are because you are the one with all the problems and if it wasn't for you the relationship would be perfect and the two of you could live happily ever after. Feel free to feel sorry for them because they probably did have a bad childhood and that's why they are the dysfunctional person they are but feel sorry from afar. They need to figure out why they are the person they are and it has nothing to do with you. It is not your fault but if you stay eventually you will believe it is your fault. Soon your friends and family will slowly stop hanging out with you because they know he will be there. You are going to wonder why, so I will tell you right now why, "Because they see him for what he is, a verbal bully." They don't want to be around him or live with him and neither should you. If your family loves you and you have a good realtionship with them but they don't like him, then maybe he isn't the person he has convinced you he is. Don't roll your eyes in their sockets and think I don't understand. I do.

I do, because I once walked in your shoes, I really did. Sweetie, I am you 30 years in the future. I once felt the confusion of friend loss, family withdrawl but, oh, how I defended him, how I convinced myself that they just 'didn't know him like I did". They did know him and saw him for exactly who he was: a bully. I was the one who didn't. So now I am here, you're fairy godmother trying to change you, not from a house maid to a princess, but from an insecure, young woman to a confident, self empowered woman. I am not going to turn a pumpkin into a chariot for you, I am going to turn your thoughts into words and your words into writing. I don't want you to go to a ball with a fancy dress. I want you to go to college and learn how to write and wear a cap and gown. I am not going to give you glass slippers that you can't really wear. I am giving you a pen and a key board so that you can spread your experience to others. Go! Spread the message: you do not have to tolerate abuse of any kind from anyone. Tell your sisters, your daughters, your cousins, your friends, and your co-workers; everyone you come into contact with, "You don't have to put up with being put down." And tell your brothers and your sons too, because women are emotional abusers too.

If you read through the following list and recognize your relationship please don't withdraw, open the links below and see how you can get help for yourself, just because you don't have a physical mark does not mean you are not being abused. I promise you, I guarentee you, that one day you will be in a happier place and you will know what it means to be loved, not controlled. I am sure of it, IF you take the steps you need to get out of the relationship and seek to find out why you were there in the first place. Being loved feels great not bad. This list is a compilation of signs from many different sites and books and personal experience. This is a rare occasion when you don't need to 'get all the answers'; you don't need to have a complete list, just a collection of several of these. Just because you don't have a scar or bruise doesn't mean you won't, many emotional abusers end up physically harming their partners- it could just be a matter of time. Get out while you can.

signs of abuse

"Why I Didn’t Realize My Relationship Was Emotionally Abusive If you see yourself in these words, know that there is little hope for your relationship to improve. It would take a monumental amount of insight and motivation for the abuser to change and unfortunately, this is rarely the case. If you are in an abusive relationship, I urge you to get out and with professional help if needed. Often the first step in leaving the abuser is obtaining counseling just to rebuild your esteem so that you can leave. I particularly want you to know that you may “love” this person, but that they do not “love” you or respect you. I assure you that in time you will get over this person if you break it off. You will be making the right decision ... no looking back." FROM: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/10/13/21-warning-signs-of-an-emotionally-abusive-relationship/

If you feel like you need help getting out of this relationship or figuring out what to do next, call the: National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You're not alone. http://www.bustle.com/articles/96624-9-signs-youre-being-emotionally-abused-in-your-relationship-because-love-shouldnt-feel-manipulative

"But I’m not here to talk about all that, I’m sharing simply to shed a bit of light on key signs of emotional abuse, which is so damn underexposed, if for no other reason that it doesn’t bear the visible scars that physical abuse does." FROM: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/10/when-emotional-abuse-looks-a-lot-like-love/

It’s alarming when someone you care about is being abused and you may be tempted to launch a rescue and take charge to get your friend or loved one “out.” But people that are abused and controlled by their intimate partner don’t respond well to helpers that try to “boss them” into immediate action. Experts say that’s because it can feel like more abuse and control. Pushing them to do something they’re not ready to do or don’t feel safe doing, may only lead them to avoid you. FROM: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/presence-mind/201510/how-help-someone-in-abusive-relationship

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/yourtango-experts/warning-signs-toxic-relationship-expert

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/11-warning-signs-unhealthy-relationships-you-need-aware.html

http://www.yourtango.com/experts/lesli-doares/emotional-abuse-in-my-relationship

http://bandbacktogether.com/emotional-abuse-resources/

Deborah Baron

Deborah Baron

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