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Maybe He Doesn't Hit You - the hashtag that wants you to talk about emotional abuse

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:39 IST

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.

"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:

First published: 12 November 2016, 3:34 IST