Before I begin, there are a few things I want to clarify.
The first is that there is absolutely nothing romantic about emotional abuse. If you or anyone you know is being mistreated with the guise that it is loving and caring, be very cautious. Don’t let this type of behaviour be normalized.
The second is that anyone is susceptible to emotional abuse. It doesn’t matter your gender or the type of relationship. It can be romantic, platonic, or even parent-child. If someone has your full trust and intimacy, they also have the potential to emotionally abuse you. There is not always a physical aspect of abuse. The power tactics all lie in being able to control someone emotionally and mentally.
The third is that while there are universal symptoms of being in an emotionally abusive relationship, all experiences vary. Some people will experience gaslighting more, others will be more susceptible to the effects of being bullied. This piece is an example of someone being gaslighted into believing that the undesirable is desirable, a tactic that is used to achieve control in emotionally abusive relationships. This piece, however, is not meant to be a one-size-fits-all representation.
This piece is coming from the fact that I have not only seen it through others, but have experienced emotional abuse myself, at both the romantic and platonic level, and in a coordinated fashion.
Emotional abuse has the power to change your reality, especially when it is coming from someone you love. If you suspect someone you know is in an emotionally abusive relationship, please do your best to be there for them. In their world, their value and self-worth revolves around one person and one person only. They are pushed to believe that only one person can bring them happiness. Prove them wrong.
Imagine loving someone. Imagine that person telling you that they want to show you how much they love you by providing you a place to call your own where they can spend time with you, but there’s one condition: you’re not allowed to leave.
Hesitant at first, you ask why you can’t leave, but they tell you it’s because they prize you so much that they want to have exclusive access to you, and just you. Taken over by the feeling of them coveting you, you agree, and follow them to the place that they’re giving you, but it’s nothing lavish or comfortable. It’s a prison cell.
You ask them why they’re keeping you in a prison cell, but they tell you it’s not that bad. They tell you it’s one of the best places on earth you could spend the rest of your life in, and they wouldn’t ever give you something you wouldn’t be happy in because they love you that much. Seeing their point and convinced even more of their love, you believe them.
On the first night of sleeping, you notice a leak in the roof. There’s also a hole in one of the walls by your bed that lets in a really bad draft. Speaking of your bed, you just can’t fall asleep on it. Rather than the soft, pillowy mattress that you used to sleep on, this is like sleeping on a rock, never mind the fact that the constant dripping from the roof is enough to keep you awake.
The next morning, you tell your lover about the problems of the room, but they just laugh. They call you a child for having such childish taste in good rooms, and scold you for being ungrateful. As punishment, they tell you they won’t visit you for a month so you can think about how much you hurt them. Seeing how distressed you are, they hug you and kiss you, and tell you that in a month, they’ll bring ice cream of your favourite flavour to make up for their absence, and you can both eat it together while watching Netflix.
Two months pass and they finally return, but without ice cream. Mentally and physically, you’re exhausted. You can’t handle just how horribly uncomfortable the room is, and the anxiety of wondering why they didn’t return after a month like they promised is draining. When they finally return, you hug them and tell them you missed them, but they push you off and yell at you. You ask why they’re angry, and they say it’s because you can’t control your affection. You ask what took them so long to return, and they look at you confused. After some awkwardness, they tell you they never promised to return.
You recap exactly what they told you before they punished you and never returned, and they scold you for making up lies. You couldn’t believe what they were lecturing you for. You were so sure they said they would be back in a month. You were looking forward to eating ice cream with them too.
Distressed at how angry they are at you, you break down and begin to cry. They don’t do anything at first, watching you as you sob pathetically, but after a while they hug you and speak to you softly, telling you that they forgive you. You calm down, appreciative of how forgiving they are of you, that they would have the patience to deal with how inappropriate you had been acting towards them and are glad that you have come to realize how childish you are.
They ask you again how you feel about the room they gave you. You tell them you love it.
24OurMusic – http://www.24ourmusic.net/author/brandon/