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By Amy James
Domestic violence, referred to as intimate partner violence, family violence, spousal abuse, domestic abuse, and IPV, may be described as a pattern of violent actions by either spouses in a marriage. Domestic abuse can come in different forms including physical aggression (punching, throwing objects, shoving, kicking, biting, hitting, slapping, restraining), or threatening the spouse thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; being in control or domineering; intimidation; constant stalking; covert or passive abuse (e.g. neglect) and depriving one of money. Drinking and mental conditions are often co-morbid with IPV, and are additional obstacles when present together with patterns of abuse.
Violence is aimed at inflicting physical injury. Violence can include denying the partner medical care if such is necessary, depriving the other of sleep and other activities needed to physically survive, or forcing the partner to engage in drinking or drug abuse against her or his will. It may also include causing physical harm onto other targets, like children or pets, so as to inflict severe psychological harm to the partner.
Emotional abuse (likewise known as psychological abuse) may include ridiculing the spouse in private or publicly, deciding what the other can and can't do, not giving information to the partner, intentionally doing various things to make the spouse feel embarrassed, isolating the spouse from family and friends, directly blackmailing the partner by inflicting harm to others if the partner expresses independence, or denying the partner access to funds or some basic necessities.
Verbal or emotional abuse is characterized by any action which threatens, frightens, humiliates the partner and lowers their self-esteem or self-worth, or controls the spouse's freedom. That may include threatening the partner with physical harm, assuring the spouse that they may be killed were they to ever leave, and public humiliation. Incessant name-calling, criticism, and doing things that damage one's self-worth are also common types of psychological abuse.
Usually perpetrators use their kids to engage in mental abuse by making them severely criticize the other partner. Emotional abuse includes conflicting statements or behaviors which often are intended to scare and create insecurity in the other. These actions also lead the other partner to question himself or herself, causing them to believe they're inventing the abuse in their mind or that what is happening is entirely their fault.
Once abused spouses leave the abuser, they can be stunned with the degree to which the physical or mental abuse has taken away their freedom. As a result of restrictions and economic abuse, the abused partner often has very little cash of their very own and not many people on whom they could fall back when seeking out help. This has been proven to be one of the biggest challenges before victims of domestic violence and the strongest factor which may well discourage them from abandoning their perpetrators.
In addition to lacking money, victims of domestic abuse oftentimes don't have special skills, good education, and work-related experience which are necessary to find a gainful work position, and may have two or more children to raise and support.
Emotional Abuse: Why Is It So Damaging?
Emotional abuse is the most common and most damaging kind of abuse but it is often down played, if you reach out for help, people will often wonder what all the fuss is about. People who have suffered physical or sexual abuse often report that it was the emotional abuse that caused the most damage.
Relationships - Common Behaviors and Tactics Abusers Use
Emotional abuse is silent, insidious and extremely dangerous to the victim. It slowly and systematically wears away at the victim's soul. It erodes self-worth, confidence, trust, faith and the ability to have confidence in one's own perceptions.
Amy James is a PhD student. Read more about intimate partner violence in my Magazine of Health and Harmony, a magazine of balanced living.
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