Emotional abuse is a phrase humanity has only recently discovered. Before that, it was just called a marriage, or an angry father or brother, or a mother/mother-in-law who is demanding.
Physical abuse horrifies everyone, but emotional abuse and its long term psychological impact isn't often diagnosed, and usually left untreated.
Men and and women over the years have documented details of married life, made jokes about it, written successful novels with emotional abuse at the epicentre - and called it a great plotline with round or flat characters. Gone with the Wind, for instance, is the story of a woman who emotionally abuses not just her first two husbands, but also her kids. But we love Scarlett O'Hara and rue that Rhett and she never got their happy ending. Great tragedies make for great stories.
In life, however, these stories just make for damaged, scarred people who struggle with inter-personal relationships, who flinch at the sound of a raised voice, who have a crippled sense of self.
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou is such an important hashtag, Emotional abuse is so damaging & it needs to be talked about.— Apryl (@DorazioApryl) November 6, 2016
"Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim, nor does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse," says the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence - an organisation that works with survivors of abuse.
If you aren't sure whether or not your relationship with a loved one is emotionally abusive, here's a checklist from women who know what's it like:
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but finds every chance to make you feel bad & you become so self conscious and careful about what u do/say around him— imelda (@imelxa) November 8, 2016
#maybehedoesnthityou but it's been over a year and you still flinch every time someone raises their voice at you— monty (@tanaminks) November 6, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but every time you bring something up that bothers you, he calls you crazy and invalidates your feelings.— Andrea Trevor (@andreatrevor) November 8, 2016
#maybehedoesnthityou but the only time you feel wanted/loved is when your clothes are on the floor.— hAiLeY (@Haileyann_14) November 1, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he gets angry at you for doing something that he does as well. like hanging out with friends.— hannah brooks (@Hannah_Brooksss) November 2, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but if you have to watch what you say in fear of his anger, leave.— mermaid katie (@ktnordelo) November 6, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but instead he isolates you and destroys all of you platonic relationships so he's all you have— Brooke Baker (@BLBrooklyn) November 6, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he blames you for his inconsistency making you feel like you're just hard to love— ALLIANA (@allianapersaud) November 6, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he purposefully fails to communicate & resolve issues that are hurting you because he enjoys having power over you— Tatumn Maree 👑 (@tatumnmaree) November 7, 2016