It is an easy mistake to make to assume that domestic abuse is always physical.
That the act of it is something that leaves you bruised and hurt on the outside, having to make up excuses about being clumsy and bumping into door frames or falling down stairs.
The truth is that abuse can happen without anyone raising a hand too. It can be vague and more quiet and so much harder to spot too.
It can be when someone you love and trust puts you down. Says things that makes you feel scared. When they make you feel like you are stupid or not good enough or not quite as smart or educated or successful as they are.
It can be when someone keeps you from seeing your family and friends or go out of their way to hurt you by saying things about your family and friends that cuts you.It can be when someone criticizes you for what you look like or what you are wearing or who you talked to.
It can be when someone talks about leaving you every time you raise your voice or have a different opinion than them. It can be someone talking pleasure in seeing you cry.
Emotional abuse can be a million different things. It can damage someone just as much as physical abuse can do, and it happens to so many – and yet we hear so little of it. It is the secrets that lurks behind facades that are happy and smiling and brave when others are around, but when you are alone, things are so very different.
To get people talking about the very real issue of emotional abuse, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in the US launched a social media campaign, and in the last month, thousands have taken to Twitter post about emotionally abusive relationships using the hashtag #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou.
The tweets usually lead with the hashtag and follow up with details of another type of abusive behavior, like excessive anger, jealousy, a need for absolute control, and manipulation.
#maybehedoesnthityou but he constantly criticizes your clothes, your makeup, your body, instructs you to work out and be more ‘feminine.’
— Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) May 11, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he makes sure you believe that you’re too broken/damaged to ever be wanted by anyone else
— Just Juanita (@Just_Juanita) May 9, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he’d convince you to hate your parents & friends and to push them away completely because they didn’t like him.
— Mac (@MacaelaRipley) May 11, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he never lets you forget that he could leave you for someone prettier, less “slutty,” less emotional, less damaged.
— Ella Dawson (@brosandprose) May 9, 2016
#maybehedoesnthityou but you need his approval for everything and he treats you like property and not a person
— Keegan Kenzie (@Keegannnnn) May 9, 2016
According to NCADV, four in ten people in the US have experienced some kind of coercive control from an intimate partner, and in the report it was also revealed that seven out of ten women who have experienced psychological abuse show symptoms of PTSD and/or depression.
With the #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou much-needed awareness for this widespread problem is being raised, and the general belief that abuse needs to be violent in order for it to be an urgent matter shattered.
We know from many studies that any kind of abuse, — physical or emotional — has long lasting effect, and the hope is that if only more people are able to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and talk about them, hopefully fewer people will be forced to live with abuse.
Are YOU suffering from any kind of emotional abuse? Here are some useful links and points of contact should you need it: