Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, February 06, 2016
How Can You Tell if You are Being Abused?
This may sound like a silly question to the outside observer, but it isn't. It seems like surely a person would know if they were being abused. There would be hitting and cruelty, obvious cruelty.
Not necessarily. Some of the most accomplished abusers never touch their victims. Remember the movie What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? The sister played by Bette Davis relentlessly abuses the sister played by Joan Crawford. It's blatant and subtle together. And we discover at the end of the movie that the Joan Crawford character has been abusing also, but in the most subtle and secret of ways.
Emotional abuse can be so subtle, so hidden, that those outside the abuse circle find it impossible to believe. The people inside that circle may even doubt their own perceptions, partly because the abuse is subtle and partly because the abuser helps them doubt. He insists on it. Part of his abuse is planting and nurturing self-doubt in his victims.
So how can you tell if it's happening to you? If any of the following are happening, you need to wonder. If several are happening, abuse is what it is.
* You feel a sense of dread, fear, or unease when a certain person comes home from work, or enters the room. Or you have a nonspecific sense of needing to protect yourself or others when they approach.
* You have recurring physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, rashes, or diarrhea at or after times of interaction with or proximity to certain people. For example, before or during trips with them you experience symptoms you do not experience when travelling with others.
* Someone else in your family is being abused. If someone close to you is being abused, you are being emotionally abused. You are experiencing feelings of fear, hate, shame, powerlessness, guilt, and remorse, all created in you by the abuser. Abusing a child is a favorite way for abusers to abuse indirectly a parent or grandparent.
* You find your circle of activity getting smaller and smaller. You are becoming isolated progressively from your friends and loved ones. You no longer do many of the things that once gave you pleasure. You don't go where you used to.
* You notice that you do not feel as competent as you did before you began associating with or began a relationship with a certain person.
* You don't take as good care of yourself as you did before the relationship.
* You don't express your opinions or feelings as much as you did before. It doesn't seem safe, they now seem unimportant, or would only cause trouble.
* You catch yourself altering your thoughts to please or avoiding displeasing another person.
* You find that you can't seem to succeed at something simple like being on time when you are with the person you suspect of abusing you.
* The other person in the relationship has two standards of behavior, one for the outside world where he is well respected and competent, and another for home.
* The other person is secretive about his personal life and asks you to help maintain fictions about it.
* You have, in the middle of or after an argument or episode the uncanny feeling that you have been there many times before, that you know how it will end, and that it will recur again.
* Your friends or loved ones express concern about the other person's efforts to control you, or his unfair treatment of you or your child.
* Things or experiences that are precious to you are "trashed" by the other person. Or possessions that are special unaccountably disappear, or are "accidentally" broken or lost or damaged.