Sometimes words can be even more violent, vengeful and brutal than a punch. I know… I swing hard with my words and I feel the pain of them as well. I grew up with a violent parent. I spent time in abusive relationships. And it is everything I can do when I am hurt and angry not to let those voices of the past come through me.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Statistics about violence in relationships are both frightening and sad. I guarantee everyone knows someone in a relationship that is either verbal or physically assaulting. And it isn’t just men who are the abusers, women are just as guilty of throwing a punch, but much less likely to be convicted of it.
Words can tear through a heart and leave a wound much deeper than any slap, those scars take longer to heal because they eat away at your self-esteem and relationships not just with your partner, but with everyone you know. Those infectious statements like “You aren’t worth the effort.” Or “You are a hateful ugly person” stay in your brain, haunting you when you look into the mirror and tease you when you are down.
1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.1
1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.1
1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
I am sad that here are so many unhappy people in the world. I look out my window at the rows of houses and know that inside one of these houses someone has been a part of these wretched statistics.
Domestic violence isn’t limited to just punching or physical violence, the psychological abuse and shame involved in being a part of this destructive and cruel relationship is a cancer that leads often to substance abuse, depression, suicide, and even murder. Sadly 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence. And often that violent childhood is passed down to the next generation, teaching our children that it is okay to treat the ones you love with vengeance, disgust, and hate.
I’ve been to therapists, talked to them about helping me to control my emotions, temper my words. It’s an effort that I make. I feel the fiery passion of emotions leaping up out of my mouth, and I desire to take them back just as quickly as they are said. It is an effort to keep my hurt from spewing out and lashing those that I love. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fight back with mean words. “I hate you” is something I hear myself saying when I am at my worst, when I am exhausted from fighting and have nothing left. I hate myself, that is actually what I truly feel when the fight gets personal and out of hand.
I don’t want to be the sort of person who bleeds those she loves. I don’t want to be the sort of mother who strangles her children with hate filled rants. I know how horrible words regurgitate through the years, played over and over. “I wish I had aborted you” and “You ruin everything” play over and over in my weak moments, when I think about the things I grew up with.
No, I am not the sort to throw punch or push someone down the stairs. But I am guilty of swinging with my words. I am guilty of angry thoughts and not knowing when to let it go. I am guilty of being so hurt over something that was said or done that I can’t let it go. I am guilty of setting the world on fire with my words and standing back to let it all burn down. I am also guilty of knowing that sometimes I have nothing left, nothing at all left to give to a relationship and when I am silent, it is over. I just walk away.
And sometimes that is okay too. Knowing that you don’t have to stay in a relationship with anyone, a spouse, a boyfriend/girlfriend, a friend, a parent, a job, ect. that makes you feel bad about yourself and hurts you. Being able to walk away, move to a better place, and taking care of yourself doesn’t make you weak or stupid. You aren’t a horrible person for knowing that the longer you stay, the harder it will be. You aren’t a monster for letting someone go and doing what is right, not only for yourself but for the other person as well. Walking away, finding your healthy self and moving into a strong state of mind doesn’t make you a bad person. Knowing that sometimes you and another person are just toxic for each other and someone has to make the change doesn’t mean that you are hateful, it means that you actually love someone enough not to hurt yourself or anyone else any longer.
October is National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. But it doesn’t end in October, we should all know the signs of abuse. Do what we can do help. And know that not all abuse can be seen on the outside. If you think you might be someone who has lost control, please seek help. There are so many options for people who want to change, for people who identify that they have an anger problem. You don’t have to be a part of the problem, you can break the cycle of abuse and be a part of the solution to change. But you have to take those steps, you have to commit to change.
Yes, I have set the world on fire with my words. And I am truly sorry to those that I have hurt with my flames. Changing how you react to pain, changing how you react to fear and anger, it takes a strong person and sometimes I have to say I am sorry when I am not as strong as I wish I could be.
- feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
- feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Does your partner…
- Does your partner…
- threaten to take your children away or harm them?
- hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?
- blame you for their own abusive behaviour?
- ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
- criticize you and put you down?
- humiliate or yell at you?
- threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
- force you to have sex?
- destroy your belongings?
- act excessively jealous and possessive?
- control where you go or what you do?
- keep you from seeing your friends or family?
- limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
- constantly check up on you?
Emotional Abuse Test Scoring
The more questions you answered “yes” to in this emotional abuse quiz, the more likely it is that you are in an abusive relationship.
If you feel you are in an abusive relationship, reach out. No one deserves to be emotionally abused by another person, no matter what the circumstance. Remember that you are not alone and there are people available to help you.
Get Help If you think you are being abused, you can get help. No one ever deserves to be abused. Read about some signs and red flags of abuse. Learn more about different types of abuse. There are places you can contact for support and safety planning steps you may want to consider. Read safety tips about computer and internet use. If you are being abused, you deserve support and safety.