evile: (dorothy)
[personal profile] evile
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Many people may ask or wonder or even sarcastically comment that "everyone is AWARE of domestic violence, what's the point of this?"....the point is that many people in abusive relationships may not actually understand that they are being abused. So many media campaigns focus on physical violence, perpetrated by men against women in heterosexual, presumably monogamous, relationships.

And yet this is only the smallest facet, the tiniest percentage of the reality of domestic abuse. A person can be abusive without ever laying a hand on you, a person can be abusive by laying on guilt trips, by keeping you up late at night arguing when you have an important commitment the next day, by crying and pouting when told that the family budget can't accomodate their hobbies or shopping habits, and repeating this manipulative behavior regularly until the family finances are basically in ruins. Abuse can mean being ignored when you ask your partner for what you need. Abuse can mean verbal outbursts that intimidate you into changing your mind about asking for what you need. Abuse can be getting The Silent Treatment until you change yourself to accommodate your abuser's wishes. Abuse can happen between women in intimate partnerships, or between men. Abuse can happen in polyamorous households or within a BDSM relationship. Abuse can even happen between friends.

It's not about physical violence, it's about another person controlling your thoughts, behavior, feelings, relationships and/or finances. It's about another person deciding who you are and what you want, or don't want. It can be a lot more subtle than a slap across the face, and it can keep hurting you for years and years, long after the abuser is gone from your life, because it damages how you think and feel about yourself, and makes you question whether or not you have the 'right' to think, feel, behave the way you do, or want what you want. Long after a bruise would have faded, verbal and emotional abuse can leave you feeling worthless and useless and empty. It can convince you that you're the one who is broken, it's your fault, you deserve the way you are being treated, and that no one will ever treat you any better, so you may as well stay in the relationship you have.

So, yes, it's important to increase awareness of abusive relationships and abusive behaviors, and to always, always ALWAYS be willing to say something when you see it happening. Don't worry if what you are saying is 'the wrong thing'...just the fact that you're willing to say something may be the lifeline that the victim needs to move on.
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