Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Abuse comes in all forms

What nudged me to finally write a post about this was the recent news about Kesha suing her producer for sexual assault and battery. The thing is, she wasn't just sexually abused. For over a decade, Kesha claims she was sexually, physically, verbally and emotionally abused by her producer. Unfortunately, you can't sue someone for being verbally or emotionally abusive, but that doesn't mean it doesn't damage a person any less (sometimes, it's even more damaging). I was enraged when I read commentary from people over this latest "celebrity scandal." Some claimed she must be a weak person to have put up with all of that for so many years or accused her of lying because it's taken her this long to come forward. WHY is there always victim shaming? People always find some excuse to blame the victim. This happens more often in situations in which mental and emotional abuse take place. Victims are deemed "weak" and at fault for their own situation.

You would be surprised just how often mental and emotional abuse happens. It's not something you can see and it's not something that victims are likely to talk about. Many victims can even be in denial that such abuse is happening to them and make excuses, often blaming themselves. I really believe this is the hardest kind of abuse to walk away from. Often times in relationships in which this type of abuse is occurring, the victim is being gaslighted. If you haven't heard the term "gaslighting" before here is a brief definition: gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which someone uses manipulative tactics to create doubt in the minds of others. [For more information on gaslighting, check out this informative article from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.] Gaslighting is used to make the victim feel vulnerable, powerless and even stupid to think that anything wrong is happening. So when someone is being mentally abused, they may be in complete denial about it because they truly don't see what is happening to them. Some people may think "well then that's their own fault for not realizing it" but when mind games take place like this, especially with someone who you love, it's very easy to fall victim to the trap.

One of the reasons I wanted to write a post about this subject is because lately there's so much on the news and media about sexual assault and rape, etc. We don't see as much being mentioned about the other types of abuse. Maybe that's why society doesn't always recognize it as being as harmful as sexual abuse. Obviously, every situation is different and no one can fathom the extent of the damage that occurs for a person that undergoes any type of abuse, but we need to start recognizing that abuse doesn't just take place in the physical form.

The most terrifying part of all this is that it can be happening right under your nose and you don't even realize. I recently discovered that a close friend of mine had been suffering from mental and emotional abuse in a past relationship and I never even knew about it because they chose not to talk about it. For the majority of the relationship, this person was more or less in denial of the abuse they were facing, which is one of the reasons I never found out. Also, if you think this can happen to just women, you are horribly mistaken. I know of a very real and horrible situation that occurred to a male in a relationship who suffered from gaslighting for years. It can happen to anyone.

Sometimes people who do the abusing aren't even aware of it themselves and aren't necessarily trying to hurt the other person, but that doesn't make it any better. Any form of abuse in any type of relationship is harmful for the victim and can cause extensive emotional damage. So what can you do about it? Well for starters, talk to your friends. I'm not saying be nosey about their relationships, but if you ever notice that something is wrong or even just have a weird feeling, talk to them. There's lots of people out there who like to keep private about their personal relationships or aren't necessarily an open book, so just by simply asking "how are you and so so doing?" you can give them an opportunity to open up. And what if you're the one who's in an abusive relationship or you're not even sure if you may be? Talk to someone! Don't ever stay in something that is making you unhappy. Don't make excuses for the other person. I know I did this myself countless times and it only got worse. More often than not, people don't change.

Another thing you can do is be understanding of the victim. It takes a lot of guts and courage to walk away from these types of situations and not everyone is capable of doing so. It may be frustrating to deal with, but don't be so quick to walk away from a friend who needs your help, even if they aren't asking for it.

Please keep in mind that just because there aren't any bruises or "proof" to show for, it doesn't make it any less real. Abuse can come in any form. 


  1. A lot of great points and great advice! I had a friend who always asked me things like "hey do you think its normal for someone's husband to do ____" and I would say no my husband never does that. She tried to cover it up but eventually admitted to me that she had been abused by her husband and decided to divorce him (thankfully). She would always say she was asking for her other friend, but I wish I had seen it was really about her and asked her more about it at the time!

  2. Great article! I never knew the term gaslighting before so thanks for the education on that one! Verbal abuse can be at times even more vicious than physical abuse. I know a few people who appreciate this post so passing it along for sure!

  3. My best friend was in an emotionally abusive relationship that turned into a physically abusive relationship. It was terrible to watch, I always stood by her side and he hated me with a fiery passion because with me around he couldn't control her as much as a he wanted. Eventually....get this, he actually tried to break up with her but she cut him off and said that he didn't get to break up with her, and that she was breaking up with him. It was really crazy. But he would still text her and everything even after they broke up.

  4. Thank you for writing this article! I just heard about Kesha this morning, and already I was seeing the shaming all over the Internet - as though it's somehow her fault that a man took advantage of his position in her life. And you're absolutely right - the victim shaming for physical abuse is bad enough, but it's 100X worse with mental and emotional abuse. Somehow, if people can't see the effect something/someone is having, it doesn't exist.