April is the National Child Abuse Prevention Month and also the Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I know this post is late, but I want to give my two cents
I’ve always been passionate about the topic Abuse ever since we reported it in class back in 2006 on our Ethics class. I saved all the information, outline and PowerPoint to this day, thinking that it might help me someday to do something about the victims and people who might still be in an abusive relationship.
Even if the matter focuses on children, I will, however, focus on adults as well.
So what is abuse?
Abuse is about power and control, the betrayal of trust, and lack of respect. It’s about using force or threats to make you afraid. It’s about using fear to control. It’s about a Man’s effort to exert control in a relationship. It’s also a way to break someone’s confidence and self-esteem.
In our time now, I know that the majority of the people are aware, but there are those who still aren’t aware. They don’t know that their actions toward someone is an abuse itself, because of them “abuse” is merely physically hitting someone.
I, myself, had received verbal and emotional abuse for more than a decade of my life and I only realized it in 2006. At some point, I was aware because I was traumatized by this relative and I exhibited the symptoms of trauma, especially when I was with this person even now. It was unfortunate, I’ve only taken an action in 2009.
I wouldn’t say that my case is already resolved and I’m okay. It still bothers me to this day, although that relative had changed because of what I did in 2009, she tries to control her anger with me, but somehow she still hasn’t changed completely, her words put me down, she underestimates me, and I can’t be myself around her. Somehow she hadn’t realized that her personality traumatized and terrorized me since I was a little girl and most of the time, she will only get mad and shout at me when she had enough and when my grandfather would stop her.
My family had turned a blind eye on what happen, especially when a counsellor contacted one my Aunts and told her about my concerns. My relative’s personality continues to traumatize me, that person didn’t do anything to reverse what I felt. I’m still afraid of her, I don’t trust her that much, my fear of her paralyses me and makes me act stupid or dumb in front of her, I still walk on eggshells whenever she’s there and the worst part is I can’t be myself when she’s around. My family, including her thinks it’s tough love and it’s the right way to discipline. She told me herself that she had no regrets in raising us the way they did.
The worst part is when it comes to my dream of becoming a writer, she is instead forcing me to do something else. My whole family were belittling my dream as a writer. They are putting me down and they have complete disregard when it comes to my dream. Is it so wrong of me to share this? I was eleven years old when I realized I love to write.
Since I grasped that my family is trying to control me, as my counsellor had advised years ago, I’m asserting myself. I’m doing what I love to do, I refuse to conform to her rules, and I refuse to compromise my personality and individuality to please her or anyone at all. It’s my way of showing them, they can’t control me. Nobody can control me. What they didn’t know is, the more they force their way of life and their will on me, the more they make me angry and desperate to make my dreams come true, and the more I want to rebel against them. The day I will give up on writing is the day I will cease living, but I would never let that happen.
When my Grandfather died, I promised him I would protect myself from everyone around me. He is the only person who made me feel loved, safe, and protected. My Grandfather was a retired military officer. He raised my Aunts and Uncles the military way. He may be strict, but he knows how to show me love and he also became a soft person when I was born. My Aunt only knew how to be mean, strict and cold toward us. She loves being right and because she’s right and she’s got good credentials, she’s not going to listen to people who are below her. She told me that too.
With what I’ve experienced, I want to emphasize other forms of abuse and the consequences. Consequences that could last a lifetime unless the person receives counselling sessions or talks to someone that will make them realize they are in an abusive relationship and they don’t deserve how they are being treated by a friend, partner, spouse, colleague or family member.
Aside from this, I was bullied in grade school, high school, and college. It stopped because I learned how to defend myself and I have friends and teachers who supported me.
Cycles of Abuse
Relationship of Abuser
Forms of Abuse
- Sexual assault: threatening to harm your reputation; putting you down or comparing you sexually to others; getting back at you for refusing to have sex, sleeping around; or treating you as a sex object; forcing you to look at pornography; hounding you for sex or forcing certain positions; forcing you to have sex (rape).
- Verbal: verbally threatening you (telling you to stop crying… or else); calling you names (stupid, slut, crazy, bitch…); yelling, shouting; abusing your children; being sarcastic or critical; always blaming you for things that go wrong; insulting you/your family; laughing in your face; verbal.
- Financial/economic: controlling you by not paying the bills; refusing to give you money for groceries, clothing, things you need; spending all the money on things he wants (alcohol, trips, cars, sports); forbidding you to work outside the home; taking your money or your paycheck; not letting you take part in financial decisions.
- Emotional/psychological: making you afraid; playing ‘mind games’; not telling you what he is doing; lying; ignoring you; being silent; walking away from you in discussion (unless both of you have agreed to taking a ‘time-out’ period when arguments become heated); refusing to deal with issues; putting you down; finding fault in your behavior; brainwashing; refusing to do things with you or for you; always getting his own way; criticizing how you look or act.
- Social: putting you down; ignoring you; making a scene in public; embarrassing you in front of your children; not letting you see your friends or being rude to your friends; being nice to others but changing his personality when with you; not taking responsibility for the children; turning your children against you; choosing friends or family over you; comparing you unfavourably with other women; not allowing you to express your emotions (denying your feelings); taking your passport or threatening to have you deported.
- Spiritual Abuse: May include preventing a woman from participating in spiritual or religious practices, ridiculing her beliefs, or using spiritual beliefs to justify controlling her.
Consequences of Abuse
A person who experienced any form of abuse
- Lives in constant fear, worry, guilt, and self-blame.
- They may feel worthless and helpless or ashamed and may feel like a failure
- Effects of emotional abuse/ psychological abuse can’t be seen, but it can be just as harmful and last much longer than injuries
- Anyone experiencing abuse of any kind may feel that no one could ever love them.
- They will feel stupid, ugly and all alone.
- Being abused may undermine virtually every aspect of their life, their physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health, their ability to work, their relationships with family members and friends, their self-efficacy and fundamental sense of self-worth.
- The effects of physical abuse can be black eyes, broken bones, bruises, burns, concussions, cuts, scratches even death.
- The psychological effects include low self-esteem, self-degradation, self-abuse, difficulty with relationships.
- Acute anxiety, frequent crying, unusual or pronounced fear responses, uncontrolled or rapid anger responses, chronic stress, phobias, flashback, sleep disturbances, nightmares, lack of appropriate boundaries, arrested development, passivity, memory loss, loss of concentration and productivity.
I had experienced majority of these things and I did my best to move on and stand up on my own. Most of the time, my writing and some of my friends helped me overcome those days where I felt down about myself, my dreams and I deserved how I was treated.
Even with those experiences, I’m aware that I have a strong personality and a strong will, and that helped me too. At the same time, I used what I learned in helping other people like me. However, my parents took my actions of asserting myself as a way of rebellion because I used to be the push-over kid who followed everything they say.
To anyone who is experiencing things I’ve mentioned above, please get a professional help or talk to a friend. And if you know anyone who is suffering from these experiences, talk to them and help them.
These experiences are not something anyone can joke about. It will affect someone’s life for a long time and nobody could reverse the effects of abuse and sexual assault overnight, or for a year or so. It takes a long time and it takes a lot of work and understanding.
I may sound okay, but there are still days where I have to work on my own issues, cheer myself up and tell myself that everything is going to be alright. When I was a little girl, I loved the idea of being able to read someone’s mind, as I grew up I realized that the closest way for me to read someone is to learn about people, behavior, and their motivations. Due to my experiences I became a strong person and more careful in letting people in. I constantly read people’s personality around me and their actions to know if these people are someone I could trust or not.
There are different ways to know if you are in an abusive relationship. Complete the checklist below, and get a professional help or help from other friends, and family.
To take this test, click here.
Teachers, parents, and experts need to teach the concept of Abuse in School because according to research from the Journal of Religion and Health, Vol. 33, No. 1, Spring 1994, surveyed 644 high school students (351 males and 293 females). Of these respondents, 12.1% reported that they had an abuser or a victim of abuse in a dating relationship. The onset of violence in these relationships occured on the average when the students were 15.3 years of age.
Based on the victims’ reports, the violence entailed being pushed, grabbed or shoved (62.8%), slapped (50%), kicked, bitten, hit with fists (28.2%), being the target of a thrown object (15.4%), hit with an object (14.1%), beaten (3.8%), threatened with a knife (1.3%), or stabbed or shot (1.3%).
Yes, the result is old, so try to imagine or speculate what are the numbers now. We all know that even if there are several groups campaigning anti-abuse, domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault awareness, abuse is still prevalent everywhere.
If I could wish for anything, I wish that nobody will experience any form of abuse and sexual assault in any relationship and that everyone instead will have a close and loving relationship with everyone around them.
While I was looking for images to include in this post, it was so hard seeing other pictures of abuse because even if my experiences weren’t physical, they still hurt when I remember them. Deep inside I was thinking, maybe I shouldn’t post this or that I should never write about something like this. It’s heartbreaking and it gives me goosebumps, but I know what I want to do. I want to overcome my past for good and I want to use my voice and my writing to help.