Abuse and Women’s Emotional Health
Abuse and Women’s Emotional Health. This is the third article in a series of 10 From the book, Women’s Emotional Wellness by Robert C Hoffman
Violence and Abuse Affects Women’s Emotional Health
Violence and abuse against women – Are you a victim? Or do you know someone else who is a victim? Battering can happen to anyone in all levels of society. Battered women come from all ages, income brackets, and sectors. Abuse does not necessarily leave a mark; it can be in the form of threats and verbal assaults. It can change and destroy innocent lives.
Abuse also affects the children, families, and communities in terms of health, lost work, and homelessness. It can have long-term effects on the physical, emotional or mental state of the abused woman. Yet, the problem is often not given enough attention or is either excused or denied.
A Family Affair
Too many women view violence as a family problem and choose to keep quiet about it, believing that it’s a “family affair” that should stay within the family walls. So, the same attitude is adopted in the community: the neighbors, law enforcement officers, and even the courts. Other women even view it as part of the risk of being married.
Abuse within a relationship is referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV). Here are four types of abuse as referred to by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
It’s a sexual assault which includes rape, or any intentional sexual contact through force, threats, or intimidation. Also, it’s sexual coercion when your partner is using alcohol or drugs or pressure to force you to have sexual relations with them.
Sexual harassment is when your partner is using their authority in the workplace to ask for sexual favors, subject you to sexual advances you’re not comfortable with, or engage you in demeaning sexual conversations.
Repeated contact by a former partner or a person who wants to have a relationship with you that forms a pattern of following or calling you often. May use social media and email to send you messages which cause you to feel afraid or harassed.
Includes physical violence such as slapping, pushing or shoving, kicking, punching, pulling hair, slamming against a wall or any hard object. It can get worse to include choking, suffocating, beating, hot water scalding, burning with a cigarette or using a knife or gun.
This is in the form of verbal aggression such as name-calling and insulting or humiliating words. It also includes controlling you by preventing you from associating with family and friends, going to specific places, or wearing a certain type of clothes. Your partner may also monitor where you go and who you’re with.
Symptoms of ‘Battered Woman Syndrome’
A psychological condition, ‘battered woman syndrome’ happens when the victim experiences abuse usually caused by an intimate partner. A woman may feel isolated and alone since she doesn’t want family and friends to know, so she keeps to herself. She fears embarrassment, judgment, and stigmatization which leads to depression and the feeling of helplessness.
With the lack of family support, she will be emotionally withdrawn but keeps on going, believing that the person she loves will eventually change. She suffers from a form of self-denial, not acknowledging that there is something wrong in the relationship and finding excuses for the person who is abusing her. She may feel guilty, thinking the abusive behavior is all or partly her fault.
Even long after the violence and abuse, she may experience sleep problems such as insomnia and nightmares. Other long-term effects include feelings of anger, sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, and intense fear. She may have intrusive feelings and thoughts about the abuse but refuse to talk about it and can avoid situations that remind her.
Are You Going to Speak Out or Keep Quiet?
No one deserves the pain and agony a battered woman syndrome can cause. No one deserves to endure this kind of situation. If you’re the victim, you need to speak out. Remember, you’re not alone. Tell somebody, such as your trusted family members or friends, or a medical practitioner. Tell people who are willing to listen and help. Don’t just accept your situation.
Other venues you can get help are from are non-governmental organizations and government agencies created to help women who are victims of violence and abuse. You can even call a hotline to get the help you desperately need. Do something to stop this inhuman behavior before it is too late. The answer to end the physical, emotional, and mental torture is in your hands.