Mental Abuse information –
Both men and women in relationships, families and social circumstances can inflict mental abuse.
Stereotyped beliefs, myths and behaviour about roles for women and men in families, relationships and social environments, and about what true love is, are often at the root of mental abusive behaviour. Women in our culture are often socialized to be accommodating, to believe that it is their job to care for others at their own expense and to please men. Men are often socialized to believe that it is their job to protect women, to be in control at all times and to “call the shots.” However often it is the reversal of these roles, which can also cause mental abuse to be present for male survivors.
Many young women and men believe that they must be in a relationship to be whole. They believe that they should devote themselves totally to their partner, often to the exclusion of other relationships and interests. Jealousy, possessiveness and sometimes abuse, is seen as a sign of true love. Believing that any relationship—even an abusive one—is better than no relationship at all, leaves individuals without the support that they need to leave an unhealthy relationship.
Remember, mental abuse escalates. Mental abuse can and sometimes does, turn physical.
Fear and seeking help –
All types of abuse leave you frightened. The fear may not be limited to a fear for physical safety. The fear can be more shapeless. You know you do not feel strong. You do not feel as if you can take risks. You do not even believe it is acceptable to try.
The abuse can start slowly, and perhaps not even feel like abuse – just a simple “it’s all your fault” here and there. Be warned that mental abuse is often the precursor to more.
Unfortunately the classic tale of mental abuse is often followed by physical abuse, and then sexual abuse. And typically the cycle is that the abuser, at some point, apologizes for the abuse. Then comes the honeymoon period during which things are relatively fine – and then the abuse starts all over again. People who have grown up in abusive homes can easily duplicate those experiences in their adult lives. If you grew up in an abusive family, you know how frightening and hurtful the experience was. Do all you can to protect yourself and your children in the way that your family did not or could not when you were a child? If you were the victim of abuse as a child – you know only too well how much that hurt – you do not have to re-enact your childhood pain in your adult life. You do not have to treat others as you were treated.
Typically abuse, once begun, only escalates. Unless the abuser accepts responsibility for his/her behaviour and seeks professional help – it is quite likely the abuse will continue and worsen.
There is help. There is support. No one deserves to be frightened, terrorized or helped to feel hopeless and helpless about themselves and their lives. The police, support networks and shelters take mental abuse just as seriously as physical abuse.