And overwhelmingly, the emphasis was on the physical side of abuse – the shovings, the beatings, the burning with cigarette stubs, the belt-lashings and worse.
I cannot imagine the horror all of this amounts to.
But I can say this: a man can’t break a woman’s body, till he’s broken her mind.
Till he’s made her feel ugly, unloved, useless, worthless and helpless. Till he’s made her believe that nobody else can ever want her, so she better put up with whatever he’s dishing out because there’s nobody else out there.
It’s called emotional abuse and it starts much before the actual beatings. Constant criticism, verbal abuse, mockery, passive aggression – it comes in many forms. And in many ways, it’s more debilitating than an actual slap. Because it stops women from doing anything about the physical abuse. They stop thinking that there can be a way out, or that they should take the way out.
If he tells you that nobody is going to love you, want you, want to be with you, if he tells you you’re not good enough, were never good enough, will never be good enough, sooner or later, you end up believing him. So you change. You become the person he tells you you are. You lose your voice, your opinions, your laughter. And you don’t notice that your friends notice. You shut up and put up with it and in the bargain, you lose everything that made you, you.
Walk out of an emotionally abusive relationship before it turns into a physically abusive one. And please, for the love of God, stop telling yourself that you’ll never find someone else if you leave.
Maybe it’ll be a man, someone with his own flaws, yes, but someone who’s kinder, who doesn’t make you feel like a piece of shit. He won’t treat you like a princess 24×7. No man does and no man should – we’re women, not dolls. But he’ll treat you like a human being without expecting you to be grateful for it. Believe it or not, that kind of man does exist in plentiful numbers.
And even if you don’t find a man to replace the monster you’ve left behind, you will find someone else. Someone far more important, who got lost in the nightmare, who you’ve all but forgotten.