Why Is Love Hurting Me So Much?
Am I Crazy?
Recently, a friend alerted me to “National Love is Kind Day” which happens in July. It is a day to celebrate independence from domestic abuse (DA). This prompted me to think about DA and its many forms. Within the DA spectrum, there is one particular form of abuse that is insidious to me, emotional or psychological abuse. This type of abuse leaves no physical marks and is hard for others to discern. It is even difficult for the person being abused to understand what is happening. Often, they feel like they are the “crazy one” since everyone around them sees the relationship as perfect (of course, they do not see what happens in private.) Abusers are notoriously skilled at coming across as very rational and can easily manipulate their partner into doubting themselves and their emotions.
Emotionally abusive partners may do some or all of the following:
- Isolate their partner from family and friends
- Controlling all aspects of their partner’s life
- Constant monitoring of their partner
- Mind games
- Reducing or eliminating means of being independent
Just like in other forms of abuse, these behaviors come in cycles, which is what makes them so confusing to the person being abused. At times it feels as if things are good or as if the abuser is changing their ways, but the wheel turns and the abuse, in whatever form, returns again.
It is important to realize that if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, safety planning is an essential part of escape. Before leaving (if there is the option to prepare), find out what resources are available in your area for victims of partner abuse. A good place to start is your state or county department of social services. At a safe time, when the abuser is not around, call a local domestic violence program. Tell them what has happened and ask what your choices are to protect yourself.
Here are some other things you can prepare and plan.
- Think of a safe place to go if violence occurs—avoid rooms with no exits (bathrooms) or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
- Have an escape route and practice this as you would a fire drill.
- Think about and make a list of safe people to contact. Choose a place to go in advance. Such as the home of a friend, relative or neighbor who will offer unconditional support or even to a motel, hotel, or local shelter—most importantly, somewhere where you will be safe.
- Keep change and small bills with you at all times.
- Memorize all important numbers.
- Have a survival kit ready. The kit can be left with a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor, kept in a safe deposit box, or, only as a last resort, hidden in your home. Consider including:
- Change of clothes
- Extra house and car keys
- Important papers to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action, such as social security cards, birth certificates, your marriage license, leases or deeds regardless of whose name is on them, your checkbook, credit cards, bank statements, insurance policies, proof of income like check stubs or W-2 forms and any documentation of abuse like photos, police reports, medical records, etc.
- Restraining or protection orders, child custody or child support orders
- Address books, and any items of exceptional person value or meaning
- Comfort items for yourself and children (chocolate, games, books)
- Try to open an individual savings account. Have statements sent to a trusted relative or friend or arrange for electronic-only account notification to prevent your abuser from having knowledge of your account.
- Establish a “code word” or sign so that family, friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
I believe our emotions are similar to an early warning system. Just like pain warns us to back away from a hot stove, emotional pain alerts us that something is not right and that change is needed. If you think you are in danger, you probably are. You are the expert at sensing when things are getting really bad. Listen to your inner voice—it exists to protect you and your children. Flee at once to a safe location or call the police.
- To get a better picture of what Emotional/Psychological Abuse looks like, I suggest the book “The Princess Who Believed in Fairy Tales”
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE and 800-787-3224 (TDD)
- Resource Center on Child Protection and Custody: 800-527-3223
- Battered Women’s Justice Project: 800-903-0111
- National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: 800-597-2238