The Scars of Domestic Violence That You Can’t See
By, Raychel Chumley
Last week I wrote a blog post called, “5 Things Every Woman Should Know about Domestic Abuse” in honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We had some amazing feedback on this article, and we are so proud of you all for sharing and liking this important blog post. You have no idea whose life you might have saved! Today I want to talk to you about the domestic abuse that doesn’t leave bruises. It’s the kind of domestic abuse that falls under the categories of: Verbal, Emotional, Spiritual, and Psychological. Let’s talk about the scars you don’t see.
If you think a domestic violence victim looks like this…
And not this…
You need to look again.
Chances are you know someone right now in an abusive marriage and you just can’t see past the painted surface to the evil underneath. When it comes to domestic violence and abusive relationships there are lots of scars you can’t see. Abuse is often hidden in plain sight. Many abusive relationships look like happy marriages from the outside. Or, maybe the couple looks like they are overcoming their differences and working things out.
Just because it’s a secret doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Just because she (Or he…15% of abuse victims are men!) plays the part of the happy housewife doesn’t mean she is. Just beneath the surface of that “picture perfect” marriage are hateful words, horrific mind games, demeaning requests, hidden money issues, religious guilt, and many other abusive behaviors that you would be shocked to find out about.
Abusive relationships are about control and power. You don’t have to hit a woman to make her fear for her life and make her a victim. Here are some important things you need to know about the kind of domestic violence that leaves the scars you can’t see:
Verbal abuse victims are often berated, mocked, insulted, and intimidated. Verbally abusive people will make sarcastic comments about their partner in private and in public. They will call their partner names and have a complete disregard for their thoughts and feelings. Victims of verbal abuse will often think they have communication problems with their partner and will try to fix themselves, so they don’t make their partner mad anymore.
Emotional abuse victims walk on eggshells all the time. They never know what to expect when they get home and will often describe their partner as having a “Jekyll and Hyde” type of personality. They are often accused of being unfaithful, constantly checked up on, and have to deal with extreme jealousy from their partner. People who emotionally abuse other people will also use tactics like ignoring their partner or giving the silent treatment as ways to cause emotional pain. They will twist words around and wear their partner down until they have them confused and exhausted.
Toxic people like to create a financial dependency in their relationships. They want to control the money in many different ways. They buy what they need regardless of budget or what the family needs. Financial abusers sabotage their partner’s efforts to work (calling all the time at work or making them late) or forbid them to work at all. They hide bank accounts and take out loans and credit cards the partner knows nothing about.
The vast majority of victims stay in the relationship much longer than they want, because they don’t have the financial means to support themselves or their children if they leave.
Religious abusers use the Bible as a weapon to manipulate and shame partners into believing they deserve the abuse or to guilt them into staying. Some churches even perpetuate this kind of abuse by blaming victims. They may cause victims to believe that they are sinning if they leave their partner or convince them that they can never remarry and find happiness in a healthy relationship if they do. Religious abusers often have a very unhealthy, archaic view of submission. Religious abuse will make a person question their own sanity, strength, and faith in the belief that God is good. This type of abuse can be very difficult to identify.
It could be anyone.
Abuse is not one-size-fits-all. Abusers don’t have a profile, nor do victims. They can be any age, sex, color, religion, and socioeconomic standing. Abusers use many different tactics to maintain power and control in their relationships. They can often go months or years between incidents and are able to control their own anger when it suits them. Alcohol or drugs are often involved, but abuse is a choice and a learned behavior, not an addiction problem or a mental illness issue.
We have to look at domestic violence differently if we are going to reverse this epidemic. Verbal, emotional, financial, and religious abuse are just as harmful and wrong as physical abuse. Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We have to look below the surface for the scars of domestic violence that aren’t physically visible.
Raychel Chumley is the Co-Founder and President of Big Blue Couch® Coaching, LLC. As a Life Coach, Author, and Speaker, Raychel is passionate about breaking bondage and speaking truth over women who find themselves in toxic relationships and broken circumstances. She is the author of the Bible Study, Unbroken: Embracing the Cracks that are Making You Whole. Raychel has a BS in Psychology and Biblical Counseling from Liberty University. She lives in North Dakota with her family.