Domestic violence in the real world is not always as it is portrayed on made-for-TV movies. It does not always utilize physical violence and does not always leave the survivor with bruising or other physical markings. Domestic violence abusers may utilize emotional abuse. There are few laws against emotional abuse, which makes it incredibly challenging for victims who are trying to get help. Emotional abuse does qualify as domestic violence, even if physical abuse is not also present.
According to the Power and Control Wheel, examples of emotional abuse are: Putting a victim down, making a victim feel bad about his/herself, calling a victim names, making a victim think he/she’s crazy, playing mind games, humiliating a victim, and making a victim feel guilty.
On the Equality Wheel, the opposite of emotional abuse is established as respect. Examples of respect are listed as listening to a partner non-judgmentally, being emotionally affirming and understanding, and valuing a partner’s opinions.
Survivors of domestic violence often explain that they feel as though their self-confidence has been stripped from them by their abusers. Sometimes a very challenging question for a survivor is “What do you like to do for fun?” The reason this question can be so difficult is because while enduring an abusive relationship, victims are often forbidden to consider what would make them happy. Everything happening in the home hinges on what makes the abuser happy, calm, or satisfied.
Many survivors become empowered when they have the opportunity to learn about themselves again. Exercises to help survivors with this include thinking about who they were before the abuse. For some, abuse started in childhood. Those who have abuse tracing back to their early childhood may be learning about themselves for the first time.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, safely take some time to learn about yourselves! Look at color swatches and learn what colors make you happiest. Build some playlists of music that inspires you. Utilize Pinterest or cut pictures from magazines that make you feel empowered. With these, make a vision board. Pay attention to what surrounds you and learn about yourself. This will be incredibly pleasing to the heart of God. After all, He is the One who designed you with all your unique attributes! Who you are matters. It matters to us (the Church), and it matters to the Most High God.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). You are never alone. Please consider to reach out to your local anti-domestic violence agency for further help and safety planning.
Jessie Adamson is a contributing writer for Christian Life Magazine and co founder of rise-up, a platform for teens ministering to teens. IG: RiseUp