According to helpguide.org, domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. The most recognized form of domestic abuse includes physical abuse; however, for many, there exist a more sinister and subtle form of abuse. One that often goes unnoticed because there are no physical signs.
Emotional abuse is a very common yet overlooked form of domestic abuse which takes on many forms which are oftentimes hard to recognize by those outside of the immediate situation. In her book, Emotional Assault: Recognizing the Abusive Partner’s Bag of Tricks, Lisa Kroulik describes each of the emotional abusers tactics in detail using examples from her own life.
Part one of the book covers each tactic:
- The Silent Treatment
- Turning the Tables
- Poor Me!
- You’re Not Perfect Either!
- Rewriting History
- But I’m a Really Good Person
- You’re Not Very Forgiving
- It’s All a Misunderstanding and Other Hodgepodge Tricks
Trick number six was especially interesting to me, since in my opinion, this tactic can be the most hurtful and damaging. The abuser will appear before others to be the perfect mate but behind closed doors, the devil comes out in full force. And because this person is so charismatic, charming and outgoing, any pleas from the abuse victim for understanding or help go unheard. The abuser is skillful in the art of pulling the wool over the eyes of those who do not know him well. He has not only broken the spirit of the abused but has completely isolated her, making the road to recovery even harder. And recovery is possible, only if the abused ever gets strong enough to leave in the first place.
One might say, ‘If I were ever in that situation, I would never stay. I would leave immediately!’ That’s easy to say if you’ve never been in a situation like this. But an abuser is very skillful in the way he uses each of the tactics outlined in Lisa’s book. He doesn’t just use one at a time or even use a tactic once and never return. It’s a continual cycle of hurtful blows always aiming so as to exact the most impact at the right time. The abuser will build you up and convince you that he’s changed, only to pull the rug right from under your feet the next minute without warning. And if that isn’t enough, he then convinces you that it is your fault that he hurt you.
Lisa explains very well in her book that recognizing each of the signs of an emotionally abusive partner is detrimental in breaking free of the abuse and the subsequent recovery. If you are currently in an abusive relationship and are not yet strong enough to get away from your abuser, knowing the tactics will equip you with enough ammunition to fight back and protect yourself. After all, you are worth genuine love and respect. You must recognize that you will not get this from your partner! The best way to regain the love and respect you deserve is to first provide it to yourself. Remember you are better than your current circumstances!
It’s very easy in these situations to go back and forth with yourself on all of the reasons why you should stay. Part two of Lisa’s book will discuss the feelings she experienced during this phase of her life and how she was able to finally make the hard but necessary decision to leave. She explains the backlash she received from others outside of her marriage that were completely fooled by her ex-husband’s public persona. Lisa also covers some of the physical symptoms that can sometimes occur due to prolonged heightened stress levels.
What I found most interesting about part two of this book is the section covering the feelings Lisa experienced once the decision to leave had been made. What people often don’t realize is that the abused individual still suffers from that relationship months or even years after the relationship has ended. Like so many victims of domestic abuse, Lisa experienced feelings of sadness, anger, grief, anxiety, disorientation, loneliness and failure. However, her story is one of triumph as she is today a successful freelance writer, a proud mother of two teen-aged girls and wife to Darrell who is the exact opposite of her first husband.
I encourage everyone to read this book. If you are in an abusive relationship this book will hopefully give you enough courage to take the steps needed to break free or if nothing else, begin to recognize the signs and protect yourself. Those who have broken free of an abusive relationship will find comfort in knowing that you are not alone. If neither of these situations fit you, my hope is that you can use this book to prevent these events from happening to yourself or someone you love.
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