Many instances of abuse are accompanied by or followed by an assertion of love. Abusers are controllers, not lovers. Abuse is a message of control and dominance, never a message of love.
Make no mistake: abuse is about control, not love.
What Does Abuse Look Like?
It is that old “I love you but…” routine and “This is only for your own good” that make the abused person feel confused or even crazy. Emotional abuse is frequently used to break down the victim’s will and bring her or him under control.
It may be difficult to understand that the abuser’s actions are a disguise for abuse. In fact, you may not be able to find a word for it.
Abuse in a relationship is about a pattern of behavior that one person uses against another to intimidate them and to get them to do what they want. It is about dominance.
Emotional Versus Physical Abuse
Abuse doesn’t necessarily have to involve physical contact. Not all abuse leaves scars and bruises. Emotional abuse does not have any direct visible signs, making it difficult to prove the abuse it happening or to even admit that it is.
Emotional abuse is any speech or behavior that is used to control, punish or manipulate. It can also include withholding love, support or money. These are all methods or control in order to maintain power.
Emotional abuse can make you feel:
Has This Happened to You?
“Darling, I-love-you-but…” If and when it does, remember that it is a control issue, not a love issue.
Another ploy of the verbal abuser is the “No one will ever love you but me” or “No one could possibly ever love you as much as I do.” This is actually a put-down to gain power.
You might be confused about whether what’s happening to you, but remember that what is happening to you is abuse. The abuser will probably try to convince you that his/her jealous or possessive actions are because they love you. This kind of behavior isn’t about love; it’s all about control and dominance.
What To Do If You Are Being Abused
If you think that maybe you are being abused, you probably are. Trust your instincts!
Any instance of physical abuse should be dealt with through proper authorities. Never hesitate to call 911 if your partner inflicts physical pain upon you. If you are hesitate, or scared, to call the police, there are 24 hour resources available to help:
- The National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 800-799-7233 is a number you can call in the United States. They will reach out and help with service providers and shelters.
- In Canada, there are many crisis hotlines you can contact depending on where you live.
Apart from reaching out for help, there are things you can do for yourself if you are in an abusive situation:
- Understand that it is not your fault! And it’s not your responsibility – you are not responsible for fixing your abuser or helping them to stop the abusive behavior.
- Set personal boundaries. Make the decision that you will not respond to the abuse and maintain distance from the abuser.
- Give yourself time to heal. Abuse is a traumatic experience and, if not processed properly, could lead to another abusive relationship. Seek support from family, friends and medical professionals.