My grand mother always said, “The day a man puts his hands on you, is the day you leave forever! Irrespective of the circumstances, you have to walk away.” Okay ma’am i heard you loud and clear. But what about the instances where there is no physical hitting but everything else in the package?
Where do we draw the line? When is the right time time to walk away?
So there is a more silent type of abuse that is pretty much more common than is acknowledged today; intimate terrorism! It has every other aspect of domestic violence except the physical hitting of the abuse victim. This form of abuse should however not be underestimated because it has an astounding effect as well on the victims. The mental scars inflicted take quite long to heal.
Physical violence is sometimes a part of intimate terrorism as well, however in this article am addressing the form of abuse that has the victim doubting that what is happening to them is infact domestic violence due to not being directly hit but going through the rest of the terror that comes with the package.
Both men and women are capable of infiltrating intimate terrorrism.
This form of domestic violence is perpetrated in numerous ways for instance;
Exercising control over the other person in the intimate relationship or marriage. It is important to note that sometimes that control is not exercised always ruthlessly but with intense manipulation. The perpetrator may exercise control over you by outright controllilng what you do, where you go, who you talk to or through manipulation. In this case they always call the shots, pretend to ask your opinion but infact do what suits their opinion.
There is domination in these kind of relationships. The abuser uses intimidation, terror, bullying, shouting, slaming things, kicking walls and things, glaring as though they are furious. For the record, anything sets them off. So the victim is constantly terrified and that exactly is the intention. To keep the victim terrified. The abuser is trying to break you, make you afraid to speak, think for yourself or even dare to try to leave and set yourself free.
Jealous is a crucial component in abuse situations. Now the problem is that often times victims mistake this constant control and jealous for love! “Oh he must love me so much he is afraid to lose me. That is why he is so jealous!” Oh this is ground for the abuser perpertrating his abuse. He is constantly uncomfortable with anyone in your life of the opposite sex and constantly pressures you to cut them out of your life. This is wrong and no, it’s not love. It is abuse. You are entitled to healthy relationships with anyone, even members of the opposite sex.
Another tactic of the abusers in these kinds of relationships is isolation. They slowly but steadily isolate you from the people in your life, your support system, your friends. This gives them ground for abuse because usually someone with a strong support system around them is very hard to abuse and bully. They need you alone and lonely. At your most vulnerable, they will show their true colors.
Sexual abuse is sometimes part and parcel in these kinds of abuse. Sexual abuse can be perpetrated by forcing their victim to participate in unwanted sexual acts and situations. Even though you are married to this person, you do not have to take part in all their crazy sexual fantasies or to even have sexual relations on their demand. Forcing you to take part in any of it against your will is abuse.
Sexual abuse can be perpetrated also in form of withholding any form of sexual contact and intimacy for prolonged periods of times, usually months or even years. The abuser may constantly put you down by making really damaging remarks like, “You’re fat, why do you act like sex is the most important thing in your life? You’re filthy etc” The rejection and withheld intimacy coupled with all these damaging remarks will not only hurt, they will break the victim’s self esteem and image. Most victims will wonder, “if he hates me this much, why won’t he let me go” , because as much as the abuser is treating you like crap, they will not peacefully and easily let you go.
The emotional abuse is very much a part of intimate terrorism. “You are fat, ugly, stupid etc” Insulting you infront of people or even your kids. Sometimes the insults are not verbalised but they are acted out. Sometimes he does not say to your face that you are stupid but will act in a way that undermines you. He will make gestures that make you feel like the dumbest thing in the world. He will undermine your word. Those little mini aggressions have victims in doubt sometimes. Is it just a bad marriage or am i being domestically abused? Where do we draw the line? Chances are you are facing a form of domestic violence known as intimate terrorism.
Fear and threats are the most crucial tools an abuser uses to keep the victim under control. If someone feels comfortable enough to threaten you and keep you in fear or shut you up, they do not love you. And you have no business staying with that person. They are trying to break you so they will find you at your most vulnerable, alone and isolated, in most cases with no support at all and use threats against you. This is a vicious form of domestic violence you need to break free from before it breaks you.
Controlling money and taking accountability for every achievement. “I did this, i paid this, i bought this, i take care of everyone, i don’t think of myself, i think of everyone else …..” They are creating a pattern to keep you grateful while making you feel like you never do anything good for them or for the family. This is the most vicious form of abuse on the mind. Often times the abuser will take control of the victims money and bank cards. They are the boss. They know what is good for you, for the family. sometimes they will with hold all access to your money and bank cards. But also sometimes, its a more “gentler” approach but with the same effect. They will control your money by criticizing your spending choices even if you are a better handler of money. They will constantly complain, “we need this, we need that…” in such a way that you look like the monster for doing different with your money than what their opinion of what your money should do is. And they will not stop until your bank balance is zero. And when the next pay day comes, the cycle repeats itself. They want to know, when you get paid and how much so that they can plan for your money.
Whether the abuser viciously takes over the victim’s money or cunningly manipulates the money usage, the end result is similar. The victim has no access to money. They are stuck.
In such instances of intimate terrorism can be stalking and harassment by the abuser. They may start tracking your movements, accusing you of having affairs or even sending you unsolicited messages etc. There can be lies. The abuser lies by minimising the abuse or outright denying they ever abused you. There can be also persuasion. Once a victim tries to break free from this ugly cycle of abuse, the abuser will start begging, crying, making promises to be better and doing everything in their power to make the victim stay.
Unfortunately, alot of times the persuasion works because usually the victim is still in love with their abuser and they are holding out hope that he or she will change.
Often times, victims stay in these abusive relationships because, they are stuck. Remember that the abuser isolates them from their support system, controls their money so there is financial restrictions. Sometimes there are children involved. I know. In an abusive marriage where there is kids there is more reason to leave. But i know also that it is the most difficult to leave. Without money or a strong support system, it would be hard for the victim to leave alone, to leave with kids to provide for and protect is even more difficult.
Human beings are comfortable in familiar situation. Now i know that an abusive relationship is not comfortable but to the victims it is familiar.
Also the stigma and shame associated with being a victim stops a lot of victims from leaving their abusers. They often worry about, “what will people say”.
Staying in an abusive relationship could also be because of a move much further away from home. If the victim moved cities, countries, sometimes even continents to be with the abuser, the loneliness is way too overwhelming for them to even try to break free.
Also a lot of research out there says in the period between the first 6 months to a year after a victim leaves the abuser, is the most dangerous period as the abuser could possibly harm or even kill their victim. Some victims are terrified of the prospects of setting the abuser off by trying to leave.
It is important to remember that there is help out there and that the abuse unfortunately will not stop until you the victim decides, enough is enough. Yes you can. YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY FINE, THE WAY YOU ARE.
If you have faced domestic violence in Finland, contact https://nollalinja.fi/en/ for support, advice and help, in Finnish, Swedish and English.
If you are in imminent danger in Finland, call the emergency number 112 and call for immediate help.
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