“I can’t show them to the police – he says he’ll destroy my family.” Photos of a bruised face and red, nearly broken fingers. Concealer covered the marks he left in shades of blue, purple, and green.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that “every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.” Here’s the thing that a lot of people forget about – abuse is not limited to just physical violence, though that is often the end result. It starts casually:
“Your friends don’t like me, so we shouldn’t hang out with them.”
Phrases that many women don’t realize during the “honeymoon” phase of dating are actually indicative of a greater, growing problem. By the time the abuse has escalated, we find these women making excuses: “Well, he just likes me so much, he wants me all to himself.” The old gaslighting approach the abuser used on the victim has been successful.
We spoke about it early in their relationship – her concern over his penchant for hanging out with barely legal young women, his erratic temper, the way he boasted his monetary power. How he made her feel ignorant and powerless with his thinly veiled threats.
And then he showered her with the expensive trips, jewelry, and flowers, reeling her back into the cycle. The big diamond ring sealed the deal.
I don’t remember the details of the conversation we had one night – so frequent, so similar, they started to blend together, but I do remember saying, “It’s only going to get worse.” She felt helpless due to his financial and emotional control, and I felt helpless because I couldn’t convince her to leave.
Her text was succinct: “You were right; it did get worse.” Days before, after she expressed disappointment over a gift he had gotten her, he flew into a rage, throwing her face-down on the ground, threatening to break her ring finger. She was safe for now, and equipped with photographic evidence of the harm he had done. But she still wouldn’t – couldn’t – go to the authorities. She was away from him physically, but he still held that emotional control.
Victims of emotional abuse are so manipulated into thinking it’s their fault that they stay silent. What can we do to guide them to safety? We educate, we create awareness, we listen, and we NEVER judge the victim. National programs such NCADV provide an abundance of crisis and counseling resources, and you can find statewide and local organizations for immediate help in your area.
Looking for a way to help right now? Join the activist community at LiveYourDream.org, with easy online actions you can take to empower women and girls. Together, we can be a collective voice for those who are just starting to find theirs.
It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.
Emily Greene works in Promotions for CBS and NBC affiliates in the Augusta, Georgia and North Augusta, South Carolina areas. She has a BA in Art, and is finishing a second degree focusing on Women’s Studies, Criminal Justice, and English. Active in promoting social justice, especially the awareness of women’s issues, she is the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of the Young Democrats of Georgia, as well as their Communications Director, the Vice President of the Young Democrats of Augusta Richmond County, Membership Chair and Committee Member of the Columbia County Democratic Party, and a volunteer for Rape Crisis and Sexual Assault Services. Emily’s work has appeared in McSweeney’s, The Cult Collective, Washington State University’s literary journal, LandEscapes, and PLACE (SACRED SPACE) Without Beginning or End, a book about weaving by Rachel Snack of Weaver House Company.