Saturday, March 26, 2011

Unique Issues of Teen Abusive Relationships

"We were sitting in the car at the park. The sun was shining, school had just ended. We were 17, my boyfriend, his friend and I. We were drinking, laughing, listening to music. It was a great day.  In the blink of an eye his hand was clamped around my throat, squeezing. My vision went dark, I didn't know when it was. I was shocked, scared, unable to breathe. It was the 1st of many bad days"

"I never told anyone and neither did his friend. I thought he must really love me if he was that jealous"

  My abusive relationship started in my teens and continued until I left 25 years later. When I look back now I see all the warning signs and convoluted thoughts and rationalizations wonder why I didn't leave sooner. I was no different then millions of other teens then or now; I thought I had it all under control and that it wouldn't happen to me. 
  In my last article I discussed statistics about abuse in teen relationships. In this article I would like to address some of the issues that are unique to teenagers. Nearly half of the teens in the United States report experiencing some type of abuse in their dating relationships including being controlled, pressured into doing things they didn't want to and being threatened by their partner. Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner and date rape accounts for almost 70% of sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college age women(38% of those women are between 14 and 17 years old(DVRC)). Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused by their boyfriend remain in that relationship.

Romantic Views of Love 
    Teenagers may not know what a healthy relationship is. They tend to have romantic views of love that are usually unrealistic and in some cases can be dangerous. Early on in a relationship certain behaviors such as numerous phone calls and texts, declarations of undying love and the "need"  to spend every minute together can be mistaken for love and devotion. However when in an abusive relationship, the constant phone calls are a way of monitoring behavior, the declarations of undying love are verbal manipulation, and the "need" to spend every minute together is a way of isolating the victim. Jealousy is another emotion that is often misinterpreted as love. In reality jealousy stems from insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something. It can also stem from a perceived ownership of another person. This notion is reinforced with common statements such as "my boyfriend" or "my girlfriend".

Family Influences
   It is a recognized fact that abuse tends to run in families and is passed from one generation to the next. Many times children who either witness or experience violence and abuse grow up believing that those are normal and acceptable behaviors. If a young boy witnesses his father being controlling, domineering and violent he will be more likely to engage in these same behaviors in his own relationships and if a young girl grows up watching her mother be demeaned, threatened and abused, she will likely be more accepting of others treating her the same way.

Peer Pressure
   There is a lot of pressure on teens to be involved in a relationship. Teens want to fit in with the popular crowd so they will often start dating when they are not emotionally or physically ready to. Teens who are all ready in an abusive relationship but are thinking about ending it may feel an increased pressure if their friends are all paired off. They will stay in order to avoid being the "third wheel" or the "odd one out". When teens go to their friends for help they may get advice such as "he only does it because he loves you" or "She's just being a bitch, she'll get over it". Teens would prefer to remain in an abusive relationship than not be in one at all.

   It is becoming more difficult for teens today to get a respite from their abuser due to the widespread use of cell phones and computers. Abusers are using these devices as a means to control, monitor, harass, intimidate and threaten their partner. Phone calls, text messaging and instant messenger are ways of keeping tabs on where the victim is and who he/she is with. Social networking sites provide a new venue for insulting, harassing, manipulating and threatening.

Independence From Parents
   The teen years are when young adults are learning to be individuals and want to separate from their parents. There are several reasons why a teen may not talk to their parents if they find themselves in an abusive relationship. They may think their parents won't believe them or will minimize their experience. They may still be involved with the abusive partner and don’t want to be restricted by a parent to not see their partner. Or the abusive relationship may be over however the victim still doesn’t want the parents to know what happened due to feeling of guilt or shame. If the relationship is over there can be fear that their parents wouldn’t trust their judgment in the future, or that they would have to reveal lies they may have told their parents when they were still in the relationship.

Parents, teachers, counselers and employers need to be more educated about the behaviors associated with and the warning signs of teen abuse. Advice, information and resources can be found at Janedoe Inc , NCVC and Love is Respect

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Teen Dating Violence

"Vigil honors teen killed by boyfriend"

"Friends, Strangers March For Teen Allegedly Killed By Boyfriend" 

"Teen shot and killed by her 'boyfriend'"

"Teen Killed Boyfriend, Cops Say"

"Wegmans Stabbing Victim: "Please help--he's going to kill me!""


       These are just a few of the headlines that are being splashed across our news papers and televisions  more and more frequently. When one of these stories makes the news entire communities feel the shock, there are cries of outrage and lots to talk about around the water fountain at work. However as the days and weeks go by new headlines replace the old and people move on. What is not addressed is the story behind the headline. These headlines are the culmination of the serious, widespread, insidious and perpetual problem of teen dating violence. Each of these stories is the tragic end of an abusive relationship.  
      For every young man or woman that we hear about in the news there are countless others that won't be killed or physically injured but none the less suffer mental, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse from their partner each and everyday of their young lives. The abuse that occurs in adolescent relationships is the same as that which occurs in adult relationships. It is a repeated pattern of abusive behavior followed by apologies and promises to change and an increased risk of violence when the abused partner decides to leave the relationship.
        We may never know the full extent of teen dating violence. Research conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) showed that 2 out of 3 teens who were in an abusive relationship didn't tell anyone. But it's not just teenagers who are contributing to our lack of knowlege and understanding, parents aren't talking about it either.  81% of parents who were surveyed either don't believe teen dating violence is an issue or don’t know if it is an issue. 54% of parents admit they have spoken to their child about safe sex and drug use but NOT about dating violence .
    What we do know is that teen dating violence has no social, economic, racial, religious, or sexual orientation boundaries. Both males and females can be victims or perpetrators, however females between the ages 16-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence than any other age group and minority females(african american and hispanic) experience abuse more frequently then caucasian females(VAWnet). A male victim is more likely to be pinched, slapped, scratched, or kicked by his girlfriend. A female victim is more likely to experience punching and kicking that results in injuries that require medical attention. Girls also experience more psychological abuse and are often forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity(NCVC).

In the United States

  • 1 in 3 adolescents will be a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner.
  • 1 in 4 victims admit to being isolated from family and friends.
  • 1 in 3 teens say they are text messaged 10-30 times an hour by a partner keeping tabs on them
  • 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  • 1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse.
  •  More than half of victims say they have compromised their own beliefs to please a partner.

There is an unmistakable  correlation between earlier sexual behavior and higher levels of abuse. When comparing the statistics of children of different age groups there is clear evidence that kids who begin having sex by the age of 14 are at the greatest risk for being in an abusive relationship.

      By Age 14
      By Age 15-16
      By Age 17-18
      Partner wanted to know where they were
      partner wanted to know who they were with
      Isolated from friends and family
      Called names or put down verbally
      Physically hurt(hit, kicked, choked, etc)
      Pressured into oral sex
      Pressured into intercourse

            Lastly, nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. Abusive teen relationships have long lasting mental and emotional effects on its victims and those who are abused as teenagers are more likely to be in abusive relationships as adults, hence perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

            Fortunately there many groups and organizations that are reaching out to educate teens  and adults alike. More information can be found at any of the links below.

        Love is 
        Love is Not Abuse
        National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Initiative
        Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

        (Statistics from the US Dept. of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Liz Claiborne Inc. teen dating violence survey)

        Wednesday, March 2, 2011

        Emotional and Verbal Abuse-A Real Life Situation

              While living in an abusive relationship it is almost impossible to see the abuse. Because we are so wrapped up in our fear we don’t see the obvious tactics and ploys the abuser uses to control us. However once you step out of that relationship, the manipulation and the blame and the threats become very obvious.
              I have been separated from my abusive husband for almost a year now and with every day that goes by I am more able to take each situation and look at it without my emotions distorting the truth. I would like to share an incident that took place last week, break it down and analyze the tactics he employed to threaten and intimidate me.
              In the following dialog, my soon-to-be-ex and I are discussing expenses related to our daughter’s cheer leading. In our current situation, I pay him child support so he is responsible paying expenses related to our children’s activities. We had previously discussed each of us claiming one child on our taxes.  All communication was done through text messaging.
        All names have been changed except my own
        Dave-my husband
        Sally-my daughter
        Sam-my son
        The Set Up: This is where the abuser will be calm and rational, maybe cheerful and cooperative. In fact it is a way of getting the victim to let their guard down, of putting her off balance so when he attacks she is not prepared to defend herself emotionally or physically.

        Rachel 8:27am-The hotel for this weekend is 135 a night split between me  you and Kathy. Sally will need enough money for food for 4 days. And extra for just in case. Have you paid for the shuttle yet?  And we have to get tickets for her to go to Orlando in April. Right now they are about 250 round trip.

        Dave 8:39am-K 135 for hotel. Money for four days. No I haven’t paid for the shuttle. How do I pay the fifty dollars.
        Rachel 8:41am-Send it to the gym. Oh she will also need money to check her bag  probably $50.
        Dave 8:42am-k. Expensive child huh:)
        Rachel 8:45am-Oh yea. The hotel does not have free breakfast.  And she was talking about wanting to go to the aquarium or maybe some shopping
        Dave 8:58am-I will do my best

        Even though I knew better, I fell right back into that trap of trusting and believing the words that he was saying. As this portion of our conversation ended I found myself remembering the man I used to love. For the first time in almost a year I felt a tiny bit of fondness for him. I remember thinking that maybe now we were at a point where we could at least discuss issues related to our children civilly. For a minute I forgot that I was dealing with a man who cannot stand to be told anything by anyone else. I forgot that he swore to make me regret leaving him, that I would be sorry.
        The Attack: The attack maybe be verbal or physical, it can come as yelling, screaming and name calling or the whisper of  hurtful, blaming words, or it can be the unspoken threat of ‘you will be sorry’. The attack can come for many reasons but mostly it is the way the abuser establishes or asserts control and dominance. In my relationship it occurred most frequently when my husband felt his “position” was being challenged; when he felt that I was making decisions without consulting him. Note that one of the first things my husband said to me was “I did not give you permission”.

        Dave 11:23am- Rachel. My income tax was kicked back because of you claiming Sally, I did not give you permission to do so. What you did was illegal. By you doing so it lowered my return. My return was to be used to pay the taxes on the house. 2600 dollars is what you just took from my ability to protect a marital asset. You are going to have to pay for Sally; I have to come up with the money to pay the taxes

        Rachel 11:42am- I don’t have the money to pay for Sally this weekend so you can tell her and the gym that she can’t go.

        Dave 12:12pm-No. You can tell Sally and the gym. You stole the tax money for the house and now I have to come up with it. You could use your illegal refund to pay for Sally this weekend you know. But you choose not to. If I tell Sally I will tell her the truth. Do you still want me to handle it?

        Dave 12:21pm-You screwed over your daughter for your own personal gain. You call yourself a mother

        Rachel 12:23pm-You have the child support money to pay for Sally. So no, I’m not screwing her.

        Dave 12:27pm-Your child support doesn’t cover shit. Not even groceries

        Rachel 3:54pm- I did nothing illegal. I followed the advice of my lawyer. Taxes and Sally's cheer leading are 2 separate issues. I am doing my share by paying child support, paying for the plane tickets and taking the time off work to be with her. It's your choice to do your part or not. If you can't do your part I will tell her.

        Dave 4:03pm-Your child support does not even cover half of Sally's cheer leading that alone groceries lunches insurance cell phone etc etc. You still owe back gym fees of $1688 that you were responsible for and did not honor your part. Where is your half of the house taxes? If you want half the house you are responsible for half the taxes. Oh and what you did was purely illegal. Don't trust your lawyer on this one.

        Rachel 4:44pm- Do I need to tell Sally and call the gym or not

        When dealing with an abusive person the best way to communicate is with short, neutral sentences and to always stick with facts. Do not react emotionally to goading or threats.

        In this exchange Dave:
        1. Tried to instill fear in me that I had done something illegal-this is a threat, an implication that I will suffer consequences.
        2.  He called me a thief, he told me I am a bad mother, he called me irresponsible-each of these statements is verbal abuse.
        3.  He stated that my monetary contributions are worthless and didn’t even acknowledge my time investment-belittling and devaluing a person are emotional abuse.
        4. He threatened to tell our daughter that I ‘stole’ money and refuse to spend it on her- this is emotional blackmail
        5. He tried to confuse the situation by combining how we file our taxes with our daughter’s cheer
        leading expenses into a single issue, when in fact they are separate issues-creating diversions and “muddying the water” are emotional abuse tactics used to confuse and distract a victim from the reality of the situation
        6. He said that I should believe him over my lawyer regarding a legal issue-This is an attempt at isolation. Abusers do not want their victims talking to or getting information from outside, neutral sources.

        In our past relationship, the Attack was usually followed by my giving in and feeling guilty because I had ‘disobeyed’ him, or I didn’t ‘get permission’ or because I had ‘upset’ him. He would then tell me that I had done the right thing, apologize if he said anything to hurt me (but it was the only way he could make me listen and understand) and reassure me that everything would be wonderful as long as I trusted him and did what he said. In our current relationship, I refuse to give into his threats and blackmail, I do not believe his cruel words, I stay focused on the topic at hand and I reach out to my support system to help me see the situation clearly.

        The Continuation: Abusers are unrelenting in their attack. The longer they keep you engaged the more control they have. If you don’t participate in their game and play your part the way they think you should they will try harder and harder to draw you back in. In many cases they will use whatever or whoever they have to with no regard to the implications of their behavior.

        Dave 7:06pm- Sam just donated his paycheck to Sally so she can go.

        Dave 7:28pm-The kids are very tight and you screwed with Sally

        Dave 8:48pm-One day you will awake all alone and no one will care.

        In our previous exchange I did not allow myself to get drawn into his game. Because he did not ‘win’, it was necessary for him to stop our dialog, re-think his strategy and reload his arsenal.

        If you are unable to communicate with the abuser in short, neutral sentences and stay on topic, do not respond to them. You are only playing their game and feeding their fire. Do not react emotionally to goading or threats.

        In this exchange Dave:
        1. Played the martyr to our son-abusers will do this to try and garner support for their position. They then use the sympathy they get from others as verification that their abusive behavior is acceptable.
        2. Tried to instill guilt and shame in me- When a victim is feeling guilt or shame she is less able to defend herself and take ownership of her own behavior. Weakening the victim’s defenses increases the abusers power.
        3. He threatened that our children would ban together against me- this is emotional blackmail
        4. He prophesized a horrible future for me-abusers will predict dire consequences for the victim if she does not listen to him. Another threat, “do what I say or else….”

        Emotional abusers will use many different ploys and tactics to subjugate their victim. If one doesn’t work, they will move on to another or combine several at the same time. While in the process of leaving an abusive relationship, or if evaluating a new relationship, it is important to step back from each situation, look at the various components and make a rational decision on what actually transpired. If you are unable to separate yourself emotionally talk to someone who is not involved in the situation.


        Thursday, February 17, 2011

        Far Reaching Damage of Leaving an Absusive Relationship

        It's been almost a year since I left my home, my family and the life I knew for the past 25 years. It's been almost a year of fights with my soon to be ex, meetings with lawyers, appointments at court and with counselors. Almost a year of trying to rebuild the relationship with my children, of living in a new place, in an unfamiliar house with my blood family that I was so isolated from that I didn't even know them when I showed up almost a year ago.

        It's been almost a year of being physically removed from my abusive husband. Of knowing in my heart and soul that leaving was the right thing but dealing with the day to day struggles of doubt and fear and uncertainty and guilt and pain. And today I find myself missing my family. Not my parents and siblings, not my children but my in-laws. This is really strange and totally unexpected.

        In my relationship, just like in so many others, my husband isolated me from my family and friends and somehow over the years it came to be that his family was the only family. Most likely because he did not perceive them as a threat to his position as the boss. They see him, as so many others do, as the wonderful dad, the great provider, the hard worker, the perfect catch.

        I don't dislike his family and they have been part of my life for 25 years, as they have mine. However, in all this time they were not ones I could go to, they were not my support or confidants and because it was important to me to not be the one to shatter their illusions I never allowed myself to get too close. I helped sustain their image of him.

        I believe I know the perception they hold of me. I am the bad one, I am the home wrecker, I am the one who walked out and abandoned her children, I am the one who left Mr. Wonderful with a broken heart and a shattered life(can you hear the sarcasm?). For the past year I really haven't thought about them very much and when I do I usually feel ashamed. Why? Because of how I think they perceive me. But today, almost a year later, I am thinking about them. Will I ever talk to them again? What do they really know? How do they feel about me? Will I go to my mother-in-laws funeral?, my nephew's graduation?, my other nephew's wedding?.

        When I decided to leave my abusive marriage I knew it would be hard. I knew I would be giving up my home, my pets, my yard, all that was familiar and secure. My “family”. I knew my children would not understand. I understood that without the visible signs of physical abuse and knowing nothing other then the dynamics of dysfunctional relationships, they would be angry and resentful of me. I didn't, I couldn't think past the immediate things to the more distant relationships that would be damaged.

        Today I am angry at my ex for being so good at manipulation and deception. For being a chameleon that can change his colors to fit the situation. For presenting himself to his family as the hero and the martyr. I am angry at him for not only isolating me from my blood family, but for influencing his family so now I have lost them too.

        My lessons for today are

        1.The damage done by abuse is long lasting and far reaching

        2.The farther I move away from it, the more I'll see

        3.He did not only manipulate and control me, it is how he interacts with everyone he encounters

        4.No matter how bad I am hurting now, I will get better

        5.I was right to leave

        Monday, December 27, 2010

        Does Male Socialization Contribute to Abuse of Women?

        Here is an interesting article I came across today on It was written by Anthony Porter, an educator and activist who has worked  for over twenty years in an effort to end men's violence against women. Mr. Porter is one of the co-founders behind A CALL TO MEN: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women ( He is also the author of "Well Meaning Men...Breaking Out of the Man Box - Ending Violence Against Women" and the inspiration for the book, NFL Dads Dedicated to Daughters.

        (CNN) -- It's time for those of us who are good men to start acknowledging the role that male socialization plays in domestic and sexual violence. As good men, we must begin to acknowledge and own our responsibility to be part of the solution to ending violence against women and girls.
        What is a good man?
        A good man is a man who believes women should be respected. A good man would not assault a woman. A good man believes in equality for women. A good man honors the women in his life. A good man, for all practical purposes, is a nice guy. We believe this to be the majority of men.
        There is a minority of men who perpetuate a tremendous amount of violence against women. These men are counting on good men to stay true to rules -- the rules that actually allow them to be who they are in the presence of good men. These rules are what we call the ingredients in the "man box." These rules are also the foundation of how we as men collectively define manhood.
        The man box teaches us as men that we must be tough, strong, aggressive and dominating. We are taught not to show feelings and emotions. We are taught that we should be in charge, leaders and protectors. And if we fall short we lose our status and are placed outside the box.
        Outside the box is reserved for women, and for men defined as being less than fully male, or "woman-like". The man box at times can be hypermasculine and extremely homophobic. With that being said, "outside the man box" is a place most men don't want to be. So we find ourselves staying true to the rules of the man box, many times operating from a subconscious place, just on remote control, doing what's natural to us.
        We as good men don't realize that every time we tell a boy that he is acting like a girl, we are actually saying that girls are "less than." We all know that a college freshman woman is known on campus as "fresh meat." And while we know that domestic violence is wrong and a crime, it continues to be tolerated in many of our communities.
        It is with this understanding that our work, our vision, is not to beat up on good men, but instead to help us understand, through a process of re-education and accountability, that with all of our goodness, we still have been socialized to maintain a system of domination, dehumanization and oppression over women. While we as good men would never hurt women, our collective socialization is the foundation that violence against women is built upon.
        There are three key aspects of male socialization that are the foundation of men's violence against women:
        • Men viewing women as "less than;"
        • Men treating women as property;
        • Men viewing women as objects.
        We as good men have to find our voice and began to challenge this collective socialization of men. We as good men have to teach our sons and other young men how to truly respect and promote equality for women.
        We as good men have to envision the world we want to see for our daughters and other girls -- and in that world how would we want to see our sons and other men acting and behaving. We must as good men understand that the world we want for our daughters and other girls won't happen through osmosis. We as good men have to break out of the man box, stand up and speak out to end violence against women and girls.

        Monday, December 13, 2010

        Emotional abusers use Mixed Messages to control and Manipulate

                   Among the many things I lost while in an abusive relationship, one of the most important was my ability to trust in myself. I lost all faith in my perceptions, I didn’t believe my feelings had any validity, I was conditioned to believe my thoughts didn’t matter and that my opinions were either stupid or wrong.
                    Have you ever gone into a conversation or situation feeling confident, comfortable and safe and walking away angry, confused, hurt, and shamed. Wondering “What the hell just happened?”, “Did I miss something?” This is very common in abusive relationships.
                     Abusers use mixed messages as a way to keep you off balance and confused; questioning your abilities, views and values. They also use it as a tool to isolate you from your friends and family. Sending mixed messages is just one of the many ways that they can gain and maintain control
                    We often hear things like “trust your instinct” or “go with your gut”? These types of statements may seem natural and intuitive but when living in an abusive relationship it is easy to lose the ability to do this.  Abusers systematically erode their partner’s ability to trust their own thoughts and feelings. They destroy the victim’s ability to distinguish between what is real and what is not through isolation, manipulation and guilt. The victim is left with feelings of confusion, doubt, insecurity and fear.
                    An emotional abuser will do this with a repeated pattern of building up then tearing down, by blaming his/her partner for their anger or insecurity and with a constant stream of mixed messages. He/she will systematically maneuver his/her victim into a position where they find themselves doubting their own perceptions. 
                    Has your spouse or significant other ever said, things like “Sure, go out with your friends, you deserve to have a good time” but you know he/she doesn't really want you to go? It may be the body language that says "says don't worry about me I'll sit here by myself and be lonely” or the tone of voice, that says “you will owe me because I am allowing you to go out”.  You know that when you get home you will have to deal with a sullen, withdrawn or angry partner. This type of unspoken manipulation plays on your own guilt fear and insecurity.
                     So you go out anyway and find you are unable to have a good time because you are preoccupied with thoughts of what he/she doing or thinking, what it's going to be like when you get home. Instead of laughing and relaxing and enjoying yourself you are feeling guilt and trepidation. You find yourself constantly checking the time. Wondering how soon you can leave without offending your friends while at the same time wanting to be home early enough to minimize the scene that's waiting for you at home.
                    There is no consistency to how an abuser will react, another way to keep you off balance. One night you may come home early and there is no argument, no silent treatment, no confirmation that the unspoken words of earlier had ever been uttered. This may happen several times in a row until you have convinced yourself that your perception was wrong and you were silly to even doubt him. You gain confidence and feel safe and then there's that one night when you come home and all your original feeling are confirmed when the abuse begins. It maybe yelling and screaming, maybe the silent treatment or the guilt trip. It really doesn't matter what tactic he/she uses, the end result is the same.
                    The abuser delivers an original mixed message, his/her subsequent behavior manipulates your thoughts and feelings in a direction that leaves you doubting your perceptions and questioning yourself. He/she will then change their behavior again so the victim is never sure what to think or how to act.  This pattern will repeat itself over and over until the victim is left paralyzed by fear and confusion, without enough confidence to make decisions for him/herself, reliant on the abuser.
                    If any of this sounds familiar there are some things that you can do to help:

        ·         Have your partner be clear and direct. Ask questions until you get a clear statement and then act off the words, not the message.
        ·         Talk to a friend, relative or co-worker. Share with them the conversation/incident and get their opinion and impressions.
        ·         Take some time away from the person you feel is being abusive and assess why you are in this type of relationship
        ·         Think about the relationships you have with your friends and co-workers. Do all your relationships leave you feeling angry, hurt and confused or is it just the one with your abuser?

        Always remember: it’s called survival instinct for a reason.

        Thursday, December 2, 2010

        Characteristics of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

        There is currently not a single, clear cut definition of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is instead defined by a set or combination of traits, acts or behaviors that are designed to control and subjugate another human being through the use of fear, guilt, intimidation, humiliation or manipulation.
        • The U.S. Department of Justice defines emotional abuse as “any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone”[1]. Including causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends, destruction of pets and property, forcing isolation from family, friends, or school or work.
        • Health Canada defines emotional abuse as including rejecting, degrading, terrorizing, isolating, corrupting/exploiting and "denying emotional responsiveness" as characteristic of emotional abuse[2].
        • Andrew Vachss, an author, attorney and former sex crimes investigator, defines emotional abuse as “the systematic diminishment of another”.
        • Conflict Tactics Scales (the instrument most widely used by professionals for identifying domestic violence) measures roughly 20 distinct acts of "psychological aggression" in three different categories: Verbal aggression, Dominant behaviors and Jealous behaviors.
        It is important to remember that a single incident does not constitute abuse. Abuse is a pattern of behavior that occurs over time. It is repetitive, sustained and usually progressive.
        Emotional abuse is silent, insidious and extremely dangerous to the victim. It slowly and systematically wears away at the victim’s soul. It erodes self-worth, confidence, trust, faith and the ability to have confidence in one’s own perceptions.
        Emotional abuse is also harmful to a person’s physical health. Typically people in abusive relationships don’t eat or sleep properly and can suffer from stress-related conditions such as chronic fatigue, anxiety attacks, depression, high blood pressure, peptic ulcers, poor immune function, migraines, alcoholism and smoking-related respiratory aliments
        I have compiled an extensive list with brief notes about each behavior or tactic that an abuser might use to control and manipulate his/her partner. It is important to understand that you don’t have to experience ALL of these to be abused. ANY of these behaviors, either alone or in combination, which are part of a “repeated pattern”, are abusive!

        • Extreme jealousy: not only of other men/women but of friends, family, work and even children
        • Isolation: keeping you from family, friends and other sources of emotional support
        • Emotional withholding: will not share his/her feelings and is not aware, receptive or sensitive to yours, the silent treatment
        • Lack of intimacy: doesn’t hold your hand or cuddle,
        • Verbal abuse: insults, yelling, name-calling, shame, sarcasm, or threats
        • Humiliation: public criticism, reminding you of embarrassing moments
        • Threats: verbal threats such as “you will be sorry”, physical threats such as throwing or breaking things
        • Lies: including withholding information, telling half-truths or rearranging the facts
        • Mixed messages: tell you he/she loves you, but treats you badly
        • Dependence: threats of loss of financial security, or tries to convince you that you are no good without him, nobody else will want you
        • Fear: an unspoken understanding that there will be bad consequences if you don’t do what he/she wants
        • Raging: yelling, screaming, punching walls, breaking things
        • Sexual coercion: using guilt, shame, physical force or drugs in order to have sexual relations
        • Blame: says it’s your fault when he/she mistreats you, says you are responsible for how he/she feels 
        • Secret-keeping: acts differently in public than in private 
        • Spiritual abuse: using religious teachings to justify demands for submission or conformity. 
        • Physical violence: slapping, punching, kicking, grabbing, pinching, pushing, biting, choking

              2. Emotional Abuse. 1996. ISBN 0-662-24593-8