I regularly see many talk about emotional abuse and it’s impact on families. Children and women are always hailed as the most vulnerable but in my circles I have heard another side of the story.
More and more men are talking about the emotional and sometimes physical abuse that they face daily. We are conditioned to believe that men are the dominant gender with little emotional reactive sensors, and therefore it is unlikely they could ever suffer from abuse. This couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the things I pride myself on is taking away my inherent female bias and privileges to look into specific cases where men are emotionally and/or physically abused. I am aware that men very rarely discuss the topic as it is not taken very seriously but it very much is.
Women have fought for the right to have the right to work, to vote, to have financial independence and to make decisions about their bodies. They fought for the right to be heard and respected in the same way as men. Today, we are pretty close to our goal. During our fmight, women have gained confidence, power and financial freedom which has led to legislation that protects us from harm.
I wonder if this rise has changed our thinking, does it encourage us to tell our men they are not good enough, that we don’t need them, control how they interact with our children, ridicule them when they are not financially stable even when they pay the household bills. Do we pour enough love and care into the men we have chosen in our lives? If not, what are we lacking in ourselves? Emotional abuse is easy to spot for me, Growing up, it was my household norm, it has created triggers within me that I must be careful not to react to.
I am not ashamed to own up to how difficult it has been for me to learn how to not go from zero to one hundred when I feel like I’m being verbally attacked. Most of the time, there is no attack but the fear of someone treating me like a doormat puts me into protection mode. My words become daggers and my blood runs cold, and fear tells me to jab fast and quick. I am not immune to fear so the process of learning to stop, breathe and remind myself that I am in control of my reactions has been essential to my growth as a woman. I also understood that my behaviour had a huge impact on the emotional well being of others. The work was essential, trust me.
Control is the foundation of domestic violence so the perpetrator rarely identify themselves as doing anything wrong. The desperation to stay in control is their only source of comfort. It becomes their norm.
Here are some examples men have shared with me
• Controlling how and when he can access his children
• Dictating how he should do things.
• Controlling the money
• Following him when he leaves the house
• Emotional blackmail such as if you do this, you don’t live your family
• Pushing, throwing things, following him around the house and getting in his face when arguing
• Talking badly about his family and restricting access
It all seems harmless right?? No, this is abuse. If any woman was living in this, we’d say she should leave. However, a man leaving is not easy and has the same emotional ties as women. His children, his vision of family, nostalgic love, fear of the unknown, not financially stable and more. How helpless must a man feel when the only way to escape abuse is to walk away from his family?
I am a lover of family, of happiness and love but when something is toxic, it is toxic. We can not fix a toxic relationship while living in one. This is a definite. Families have turned it around but each party has to be willing to acknowledge their faults and their weaknesses. Our happiness does not come from others, it comes from ourselves. Someone else should not dictate where we sit on the happiness scale. If you rely on others, we are stating that we have no control over our lives and that is simply not true.
My opinions are mine, they are based on my interpretation of the facts I’ve read and the training I’ve received as a mental health first aider. We must take care of our emotional health as much as we do our physical health.
The rise in discussions on the impact of male emotional abuse means that we have become more aware of it occurring, it means more men are talking about it and it means that some of us women have work to do on who we are, how we love ourselves and how our love impacts others. People wonder why I talk about self love so much, well, without it, who do we become, what do we allow and how do we treat the people we claim to love.
Let’s walk away from being toxic or receiving toxic behaviour. Let’s focus on loving ourselves first.
Love from Charm x