I just finished watching an interesting case on Law and Order UK –

A young woman, who spent two years being stalked is pushed down the stairs. Initially the cops believer, but as evidence is scarce it becomes obvious the police doubt her story. She insists that she needs help, has been begging for help for two years, and that if she is not helped, she will be killed. Two days later she is found stabbed to death in her apartment.

What can we learn from this?

Plenty.

Emotional abuse is nearly impossible to prosecute, and it is hard to do anything effective against stalking until your life is in danger.

Emotional abuse will eventually escalate to physical intimidation, sexual coersion, threats of violence, and finally, actually laying of the hands on your person – physically, sexually… All in violence.

There are also honeymoon phases. These phases come just when you need them most, and can be the most psychologically devastating as they keep a victim off balance and feeling as if they are crazy – as if the abuse was just their imagination.

The one thing that is certain is that abuse does escalate.

There are certain red flags to look for, that I’ve noticed seem to be a pattern among abusers (in my experience). For me, with all my abusers, these red flags were always there.

Trust me: Abusers tend to say this a lot. There are key words to look for, sentences like “I’ve been told I know how to treat a woman right…”, “Trust me…”, “I’m always told I’m caring and kind”, “Trust me, I look out for my woman”.

My Woman: This possessive and objectifying term is always used. Listen to the way he speaks to you: are you a cherished companion, or does he seem to label you as more of an object that he needs to look out for an protect (at any cost necessary)? Is he jealous of your time away from him? Does he keep tabs on you during the day when you are not together through text messages or phone calls? Sometimes it is the total opposite – he will ignore you for days, and then contact you and berate you for not initiating contact, or maintaining consistent contact with him.

Mircoexpressions: Deception is something we all like to think we are good at detecting, but it is something we, as women, are more likely to miss out on. Studies show that woman are more likely then (normal) men to smooth over social mistakes. In other words, if we see something in a man’s expression that does not agree with what he is saying, chances are, we will excuse it, not wanting to discomfort the other person. PLEASE DISCOMFORT HIM!!! Look for expressions that leak: a crooked smile (phony!), if he usually talks with his hands, if he is being deceptive, he will likely not use his hands as much (the opposite applies as well).

When normal people feel emotion, it is expressed on their faces first before we consciously realize what that emotion is that we are feeling. In abusive men, this displays as the opposite – it’s the emotion first, then the mircoexpression. Look at body language, tone, voice characteristics. Do his words match his actions?

Eye Contact: These men are practiced deceivers. They know to maintain consistent eye contact with others. It is often victims that do not maintain eye contact – they may look away due to nervousness, disgust, shame, sadness, or guilt.

Brainwashing: Abusers will say things to you like “you are lucky I love you”. But that will not be the only verbal technique used to break you down. He will question your intelligence. Belittle your appearance. Condescendingly speak to you. Isolate you from others by making you feel worthless, and instilling a feeling of clingy-ness onto the abuser – this is because he “lowered himself to be with you”, and thus, you should feel “special”, because truly, all you are is a “worthless slut (insert his choice insult)”.

Crazy Making: He will have you questioning your own sanity. By reverting back into the honeymoon phase, and becoming again the charmer, he will make you feel like you have overreacted, are hysterical, need help, and gosh, aren’t you lucky to have him to help you through this confusing time?!

Changes within you: Do you find yourself acting more quietly around him? Walking on eggshells? Are you fearful? Are you dressing more conservatively, or more provocatively, in order to please him, when it is not your style? Are you gaining or losing weight? Are you forgetful? Sleeping more, or less? Are you anxious or panicky? Do you have this sense of impending doom? If any of this sounds familiar, you are likely in a situation you should examine closely, and get out of.

If you detect any of this type of behaviour, GET OUT! This type of behaviour only escalates over time. Abusers are constantly testing limits. If you forgive him, he will abuse you more, and in even worse ways.

Stay safe!

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