We all know how to identify signs of physical abuse because it leaves visible scars and marks. The question is, can we recognize non-physical abuse?.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano
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Non-physical abuse is psychological and it translates into controlling and coercive behavior. Even though it doesn’t leave physical marks, it can lead to victims feeling like they have lost their freedom and it can cause feelings of fear and anxiety.
It is worth mentioning that coercive control is a violation of “rights and liberties” in the United States of America and is a criminal offense in the UK since 2015. According to the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence of the United States, coercive control involves a strategic course of oppressive behavior to secure gender-based privilege by depriving women of their rights and liberties and establishing a regime of domination in personal life. However, to be considered such, it has to be ongoing rather than occasional, and it also has to involve various strategies such as violence, intimidation, control, or isolation.
Let's explore some of the signs that will help you detect non-physical abuse:
1. Deprivation of access to health care.
2. Controlling who the person is able to visit, what they can wear, or when they can sleep.
3. Prevent them from having access to transport.
4. Prevent them from working.
5. Constantly monitoring their social media accounts.
6. Isolating the person from their friends or family.
7. Attempting to control how they spend their time.
8. Wanting to know where they are all the time.
9. Trying to control their finances.
10. Yelling or insulting them and making them feel like it is their fault.
11. Destructing household goods and important personal belongings.
12. Limiting the person's food or making them feel overweight.
Even though these hints will help you detect non-physical abuse, it is important to mention that coercive behavior does not come from one-time incidents, but is derived from various actions that take place over time and that lead one individual to exert power over another.
To identify if you may be experiencing this type of abuse, it is important to find out whether you have a healthy relationship with your partner. In a balanced relationship, both people can tolerate and accept the other’s independence and can alternate between spending time together and letting the other spend time with their family and friends.
In healthy relationships, both people care for the other’s feelings and are willing to listen to them, always validating them instead of making the other person feel worthless or even unattractive. If you are feeling isolated from your colleagues, family, and friends, this is not a good sign.
Also, abusers tend to blame their behavior on the other person or other things such as drugs or drinks. They may even attempt to minimize the situation and claim that they didn’t hit you or pretend that nothing happened. All of these reasons explain why it may be hard to identify non-physical abuse and you must bear in mind all of the signals to act on time. It is never the victim’s fault, and abuse should never be justified in any of its forms.