Emotions are so delicate yet so powerful that it can destroy someone internally. It gets inappropriately targeted at for the wrong reasons. This makes the receiver a victim of abuse. It can be as subtle as a ‘light-hearted’ insult or as obvious as assertive threats, but always persistent. Emotional abuse goes deeper down than physical or sexual abuse. It affects and degrades their existence as a person, which is usually internalised. Therefore, identifying emotional abuse is not an easy task. It impacts their confidence, self-esteem and creates trust issues disallowing people from entering their lives. An unseen lifelong scar is left behind on the victim.
Emotional abuse can be experienced by individuals of all ages, anywhere, and at anytime. The biggest worry is that it is invisible, sometimes to all the parties involved. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children revealed in May 2014 that child emotional abuse cases referred to police and children’s services had risen by 47% in a year. This triggered a ‘Cinderalla Law’ to be proposed in England and Wales, where parents could face 10 years in jail if found guilty of child neglect.
Mariah Carey revealed in 2009 that she was in an emotional and mental abusive relationship with her former husband for four years. She felt he was in control of her professional life and was overpowered by him. However, her ex-husband shared that obsessive behaviour was part of the reason for her success in the music industry. In 2012, British comedian Justin Lee Collins was found guilty of abusing his then-girlfriend emotionally. Amongst many accusations, he forced her to only sleep facing him, throw away DVDs with actors she liked and used derogatory words towards her.
Unlike physical scarring, emotional scarring can be lifelong. Especially if it began at a young, impressionable age, it can lead to an early stage of misconception of self, feeling unworthy of love and acceptance. It eats them inside and makes them question everything. Social development gets affected as well. Multiple academic journals have revealed that the victims can be pushed to self-harm or even suicide.
However, it would greatly help if the victim recognises these troubles and seek professional help. A good place to start would be their school or workplace counsellors, a close family relative who is outside the environment of the abuse. If the abuse gets out of hand, get higher authorities such as the police or childcare services to assist. It is crucial to treat the abusers as well. It must be understood that they were or are still usually victims themselves. They release their stress and anxieties by hurting another and feel comfort in their pain. Instead of just locking them away, their pain and anguish must be eliminated as well to let them feel ‘human’ again.
While emotional abuse is an old topic with new focus now, becoming educated on the subject is vital. It should not be seen as a taboo but be discussed openly to cultivate channels of help to victims. No one should feel alone in this mental fight.
– Benazir Parween, Correspondent (Our World)
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