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abuse

Emotional Abuse During COVID-19

Emotional abuse is a serious type of domestic violence found in many relationships. Like other types of abuse, it is a tool the abuser uses to maintain control over their partner. Here are some red flags of emotional abuse:

Does your partner –

  • Insult you or call you names?
  • Continually criticize or belittle you?
  • Tell you that you aren’t good enough? (smart enough, pretty enough, etc)
  • Blame you for their outbursts?
  • Monitor where you go and who you talk to?
  • Constantly accuse you of cheating on them?

If any of these situations sound familiar, you may be experiencing emotional abuse in your relationship. There is never any excuse to be abusive towards a partner. You do not deserve to be abused.

Emotional Abuse During COVID-19

Financial worries and stress related to the pandemic may be contributing to incidences of emotional abuse. Some new ways we are seeing emotional abuse during the pandemic include –

  • Keeping you away from your children or family under the pretense of social distancing.
  • Using a COVID positive test as a weapon to control you or threaten you.
  • Not allowing you to go to the doctor or get a COVID test.
  • Increased outbursts of verbal abuse.

While fleeing domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic can be more complicated, it is still possible. Your safety is important.

If you are experiencing emotional abuse or any other domestic violence, here are some steps you can take.

Prepare a Safety Plan

A safety plan is a personal plan to help you stay safe in domestic violence. You can find a guide to creating a safety plan here. You can also create a safety plan with an advocate by calling the Peace at Home Family Shelter Crisis Hotline 24/7 at 479.442.9811.

Reach Out for Help

Think about who in your life might be able to offer support for you to talk about what you’re experiencing. Do you have friends or family members you can reach out to? If you don’t have anyone you trust, you can always confidentially contact a trained advocate at Peace at Home Family Shelter at 479.442.9811.

Trust Yourself

You know what is best for yourself. Trust your instincts about what the best option is for you. Remember that you deserve to be treated with care and respect.

What to Expect After Escaping Domestic Abuse

What a survivor experiences while in an abusive relationship does not go away as soon as the relationship has ended. While there may no longer be the threat of actual physical harm, the lasting effects from emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, and any other abuse that occurred can stay with a survivor for a long time. The amount of stress experienced while living with abuse takes time to fully understand and sort out. This may seem like a lot of work, but getting out of an unhealthy relationship is always worth it. There is not anything an abuser can give you that matters more than your health and safety.

The most basic steps to take after leaving an unhealthy relationships is to find a safe place to stay, cutting off contact (as completely as possible for your situation) with the abuser, and making sure you can support yourself and others that may be in your care. You will also want to surround yourself with people who care about helping you. Having a support system can look like many different things- your friends, family, joining a support group, getting a counselor or therapist, etc.- but they each can be incredibly helpful to you while you work through regaining your independence.

Do not blame yourself for any of the things that you experienced. Be kind to yourself and take time to do things that you enjoy, even if they seem unimportant or silly. Use positive language when thinking or talking about yourself, and remember that you are stronger than you may believe. When you’re ready, go out of your way to have new experiences and conversations with others. Healing will look a little different for everyone, so take your time and do not put unrealistic expectations on yourself. It’s normal for people who have experienced abuse to have certain drawbacks and hesitations about things that may seem very casual to others.

At the end of the day, you are in charge of the decisions you make. Being a survivor of domestic abuse does not have to define who you are. Do not be afraid to ask for help, talk about your experiences, or continue living your life. It may take some time before you feel completely safe or “normal”, but healing from any abuse is worth the effort. You can expect to live a happy, healthy life after leaving an abusive relationship.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact Peace at Home’s Crisis Hotline at 479.442.9811. We offer several different services, and can refer you to local resources as well.

“What do I do if my friend needs help?”

Abuse or assault is not a fun thing- to go through, to talk about, or to deal with. It can be hard to know what the right or wrong thing to do or say is. If someone trusts you enough to share that they have been abused, you can help them in a lot of ways.

1. Listen to and believe them.

Sharing their story can sometimes be just as traumatic as the actual event, so if a survivor wants to talk about it, listen. Try not to ask a lot of questions, and let them know that you care about them.

2. Know abuse is never the victim’s fault.

Sometimes it can be easy to believe that something ‘set off’ or ‘caused’ the abuser to act. The only person responsible for the abuse is the person who abused. Let your friend know that they are not in the wrong, and deserve to be treated better.

3. Find local resources that offer help.

It can be hard to know where to start when dealing with a stressful situation. Reach out to organizations that can help in relation to the abuse. The Peace at Home Shelter offers transitional housing, legal representation, and support with finding employment and support groups. We also offer community referrals. Other organizations have many of these same resources. You can also suggest making something like a Family Safety Plan, which is easily tailored to fit whatever emergency that may occur.

4. Respect their decisions.

Many survivors do not want to report the assault or abuse, or tell anyone else about what occurred. They know their situation better than you do, so let them make the calls.

5. Continue to support and help them.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a survivor is be their friend. Being able to discuss what’s happening with someone can help release stress, clear up any confusion about the situation, and re-establish healthy connections. Do your best to genuinely be there, even after the situation is resolved.

If you have any questions about domestic abuse or assault, or need help, contact Peace at Home Shelter’s Crisis Hotline at 479-442-9811.