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Do You See What I See?

on December 4, 2015

December is Emotional Abuse Awareness Month for Creative Tidal Wave. I feel many are not well-educated in identifying and finding help. The song, “Do You Hear What I Hear?,” spoke to me as a good theme for the series. In the first part of the lyrics, “Said the night wind to the little lamb, do you see what I see?,” triggered within me, do we really see the outward signs of emotional abuse?

Physical abuse and neglect often have very visual signs which make them easier to report and recognize. Emotional abuse is not so easy to see the signs and symptoms plus victims learn to hide them. According to some studies, emotional abuse is more harmful than physical abuse. Physical abuse is not a daily event like emotional abuse. Belittling, bullying, shaming, intimidation, threatening, as well as constant criticism can cause outward behavior changes in those suffering from emotional abuse, both now or in their past.

Behavioral signs which send up red flags that someone has been abused:

Depression

Anxiety

Post Traumatic Disorder

Drastic behavior changes from outgoing to being quiet, withdrawn and shy

In some cases, victims will have a drastic shift to abusing others.

In children you might see these outward signs:

Lack of emotional attachment

Low cognitive or educational ability

Poor social skills

Depression

Trust issues

 

Doubt and fear move in. A victim often apologizes for everything because the emotional abuse has made the person feel as if they can do nothing right. Stripping a person of their pride and self-worth causes significant damage to their ego and ability to function in society. Victims often fall prey to other emotional abusers due to their behavior. Abusers seek out others which they can control and manipulate which causes people who have been past victims to often be re-victimized. Often victims become “super pleasers” to reduce the emotional pain abusers cause. This sets them up once again to fall prey to those who seek out pleasers to empower them and abuse their helpful nature.

Look around your office, classroom, Sunday School class, or among family and friends.  Has someone’s behavior changed? Do you see a significant other overpowering or constantly talking down to their partner or child? Do you see someone shying away from social contact where before they might have been the “life of the party?” It might feel awkward but approach someone you might suspect is being abused to offer help or at least acknowledge you are seeing some signs the person is in distress. The person will most likely deny or offer up an excuse but please know, you have planted a mental seed of awareness that others are noticing. Sometimes it is just as simple as someone asking if you are okay which causes more thoughts of getting help in the future. Be that one who changes a life. Caring matters.

Just a side note in regard to current events happening in

whispers in the wind collage2015:

With all the horrible events of late, I wonder how many of the violent people creating these acts were emotionally or physically abused as children or in relationships? Does their rage stem from past horrors done to them? If someone, anyone… a teacher, friend, coach, or even a family doctor noticed and said something to stop the abuse, would they have committed the acts we are seeing now, happen?  Can a random act of kindness or concern change the future of a killer? Not sure we could actually track the results but I feel sure one act can change a person. I would like to be that one who stopped someone from becoming a monster because they endured torment to create the hate and need to do such horrible acts. As a teacher, I have seen lives turned around due to someone confronting and helping a child seek help. Turn fear into compassion, do not allow it to continue to fester and grown into hatred and violence.

Next week, “Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, do you hear what I hear?” What does emotional abuse sound like? Check back in next week to find out the answer.

 

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