You’ve all seen the poster of a woman with a black eye; in fact, it’s how most of us initially learned about domestic violence. The photo shaped our beliefs (and some persistent myths) about domestic violence:

  • the victim is always a woman
  • abuse is physical violence
  • domestic violence is as easy to spot as just looking at someone’s face.
While that poster brought about awareness, I’m not a fan of that poster because it limits our understanding of this complex issue. If DVRC had a dollar for every time someone has said, “I’m not sure if I should even be calling, I’ve never been hit”, well, we’d have a boatload more money to support prevention and outreach services. Often the people who say that line, will then go on to tell us about a very controlling and abusive relationship… but they’re not sure it’s domestic violence… because it doesn’t meet our image of violence. 

What they describe is emotional abuse that permeates every waking moment, every decision, every action, even their very thoughts. They often feel they’re living their life as if walking on eggshells, but they’ve never come for help because that poster wasn’t about this  type of abuse. It’s emotional abuse… it’s very common… and it’s equally (if not more) damaging than that stereotypical black eye.

So how do we recognize emotional abuse? Dr Kristen Davin outlines 12 Unmistakable Signs You’re Dating an Emotional Abuser:

Here are some common signs of emotional abuse (though not exhaustive):
  1. 1.Putting you down — in private, but often in public. This is their attempt to shame you. Projecting their feelings of low self-worth on to you.
  2. 2.Embarrassing you in public.
  3. 3. Blaming you for their abusive and unhealthy behaviors. Using the “if, then” trick. “If” you don’t do this, “then” I won’t do that.
  4. 4. Threatening to harm you or your family often.
  5. 5. Calling you derogatory names many times.
  6. 6. Making you feel bad or guilty when you don’t consent to sexual activity. Laying guilt on you that you “should” be doing this, and if you really loved me, you would be having sex with me. Or “I will have to find it elsewhere.”
  7. 7. Gaslighting. A form of psychological abuse where false information is presented to their victim to make them doubt their decisions, perceptions and judgements in their attempt to make you seem “crazy.”
  8. 8. Making you feel like you are always doing something wrong.
  9. 9.. Isolating you from your family and friends. Playing victim when you want to spend time with family and friends. Saying “we” never spend time together. “If you loved me, you would want to spend time with me.”
  10. 11. If you do go out, making multiple demands on you through numerous texts and phone calls.
  11. 11. Stalking you.
  12. 12. Threatening suicide when you attempt to break up with them: “I can’t live without you; I will kill myself if you break up with me.”
If you or someone you know
 is experiencing any form of relationship abuse, 
you are not alone, call for help now. 
Call 518-583-0280 for an appointment with an advocate…
or call DVRC’s 24 hour hotline at 518-584-8188