Abuse. For most of us, the word conjures up pictures of women in pain who have been sexually or physically battered. Those are just the two main types that have received lots of media attention recently. However, the more insidious type, emotional abuse, is not on anyone’s radar.

Why? It’s because those of us who have experienced it, or are experiencing it, do not want you to know that we are being abused. We are educated, talented, respected at work and in society and among our friends, but we are too embarrassed to talk about being emotionally abused. That is why, in my mind, it is so insidious. I consider emotional abuse to be “the mental control of another by the systematic undermining of that person’s self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of self.”

It is far more widespread than society would like to admit. I would bet that some of your friends, family members or colleagues are being emotionally abused and you have no idea. An emotional abuser is often someone no one would ever believe is so despicable. He is often a well respected member of society and loved by everyone you know. Yes, I know that women can be abusers but the vast proportion of abusers are men.

As a way to try to understand and explain my own anger at myself for becoming involved with men who were emotionally abusive, I started to jot things down. Those musing were cathartic for me and eventually turned into my just published book on the topic.

No one knew I was being emotionally abused. If you had met me at the time, you would never have guessed. After all, I was well put together, assertive, often laughing, smart enough to have earned two degrees, a pleasant personality and I gave the impression that everything was right with my world. It was not so. I hid it well. I wore a mask, something we abused women do to hide our pain. We show one face to the world but behind closed doors we wear a very different face. We hide who we really are because we become desensitized to the abuse and we go into self-protection mode, which often means agreeing with the abuser simply to keep the peace.

So, how does emotional abuse show itself? There are so many symptoms that we ignore and gloss over because we accept the abuser’s behaviour as normal. We excuse bad behaviour and confuse love with control. However, there are two main and obvious symptoms; you being afraid and the abuser exerting power over you. That fear of someone you love, and who you thought loved you, is painful and having power over you is your abuser’s reason for existing, not love. As Tina Turner asked, “What’s love got to do with it? Absolutely nothing in an abusive relationship. It is all about power over, and control of, you. Love should not hurt and people in emotionally abusive relationship know that they are afraid and hurting.

It’s time for women to examine their intimate relationships, speak up and regain control of their own lives.

Next time you ask ‘why doesn’t she just leave?’ – remember this picture

Never has this saying been more painfully true than when you’re confronted with the shocking image taken by a police officer on a domestic abuse call-out in London, shared on Twitter by Inspector Rowlands of the Metropolitan Police. Big, sharp knives are deliberately stuck on either side of every step. There appears to be a bullet on the floor. It is an utterly chilling scene. We don’t who the woman is. We don’t know who her abuser is. But, as the Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, I can tell you now what this picture represents: it is the almost universal barrier to leaving a violent and abusive partner that so many women face.

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21 Big Signs of Emotional Abuse You May Be Overlooking

Emotional abuse is extremely easy to overlook. Just take a look at these 21 signs of emotional abuse to see if you’re being abused instead of loved!

As humans, we’re not dumb. When someone opposes or oppresses us with emotional abuse, we’re always ready to strike back.

But what do you do when you’re manipulated just a little bit every day?

What do you do if you just don’t realize you’re being tricked and duped into abuse with sweet words of love?

What if your love for this person convinces you that you need to bend over backwards just to please them, even if that translates to emotional abuse?

Let’s Encourage the Church to Stop Enabling Abusers

I sometimes hesitate to highlight well-known speakers/pastors/writers here. While I am praising one of their works, another blogger is trashing them for a different thing they have written/said elsewhere. But, I press onward. So, forgive me if you have read other things by Gary Thomas, (pastor, author) that you think are wrong. I have not read all of them. But when I came upon his blog entitled “Dear Church: It’s Time to Stop Enabling Abusive Men,” I just had to comment upon it and share some of his thoughts.

I Didn’t Realize I Was in an Abusive Relationship Until I Was Out of It

I identified abusive relationships as being physically abusive. I had no awareness throughout the relationship that I was in that mental and emotional abuse existed. Physical abuse was my only boundary. There was never anything that made me think the behaviour I was experiencing was serious.

5 Subtle Signs Of Emotional Abuse

When I think of my relationship with my ex Randall*, I think of an episode of South Park. Cartman’s friends abandon him due to his atrocious behavior. The next day, he shows up at Kyle’s house wearing a nice sweater. After Cartman stands for a few minutes showing off his accomplishment, Kyle groans, “That’s not being nice, Cartman. That’s wearing a nice sweater.”

11 Warning Signs of Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind.

The female price of male pleasure

The world is disturbingly comfortable with the fact that women sometimes leave a sexual encounter in tears.

When published a pseudonymous woman’s account of a difficult encounter with Aziz Ansari that made her cry, the internet exploded with “takes” arguing that the #MeToo movement had finally gone too far. “Grace,” the 23-year-old woman, was not an employee of Ansari’s, meaning there were no workplace dynamics. Her repeated objections and pleas that they “slow down” were all well and good, but they did not square with the fact that she eventually gave Ansari oral sex. Finally, crucially, she was free to leave.