Words that Cut Deep: Emotional Abuse

By , Uniontown, OH
A timid fifteen year old girl is alone in her room shrunken onto her bed on a Friday night. She would kill to be on the sidelines of the homecoming football game cheering on her team, but she remembers that he will not be there and that he wouldn’t like her being alone with her friends. She sits up in bed as she briefly considers going down stairs to watch a movie with her family, but then she remembers him again and how much he dislikes them. Her body collapses back into the bed as she slowly gives up. Her clothes, her friends, her activities, her opinions, they have all become centered around him: what will make him happy? What would he agree with? Sadly, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, one in four teenagers experience this form of emotional control. Emotional abuse is a growing problem that, although is often overlooked, is as serious and harmful as physical abuse; parents and teens need to be better educated on the problem so that they can prevent and stop it in their own lives and the lives of the people they know.

Teenagers throughout America are subjected to the controlling behaviors of the people who are supposed to care the most about them, their boyfriend/girlfriend. In the past, if the abuse was no physical harm then it was over looked and not seen as a problem. Many victims of emotional abuse were often seen as weak for being unable to defend themselves and for staying in the relationship (Domestic Violence, Current Issue). The U.S. Department of Justice now describes abuse as any “behavior in any relationship that can be used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” Young men and women are preying upon their partner’s insecurities to make sure that what they want happens. They undermine one another’s self-esteem to manipulate the situation. They publically humiliate their significant other to make them feel embarrassed around others and therefore dependent on them. They isolate them from friends and family until the victim feels that they are completely alone in the world and that they would have no one left for them if they got out of the relationship. Emotional abuse slowly tears down the self-esteem and will power of the victim and is a serious issue.

According to one poll taken 80% of teens agree that emotional abuse is a serious problem in our society. Some sources say that up to one half of all females experience some form of emotional abuse in a relationship whether they realize it or not (Suderman). This emotional abuse has many short term effects such as lost opportunities, but it can also cause many long term problems. Victims who suffer from emotional abuse have a greater chance of developing severe depression, having low self-esteem (which often leads to eating disorders), trust problems, and occasionally a trend of toxic relationships following.

While some steps are being taken to prevent this abuse and prosecute the abuse, it is not enough. Many people believe that the laws currently being followed will solve the problem, but even with these laws 20% of teenagers are still being mentally abused. More schools need to be equipped with programs to teach their students the dangers of this abuse. Many teenagers can’t point out the warning signs, and if they don’t know what to look for then how can they stop it? Even though not all teens will be abused personally, 80% know someone who has been. If they are more aware if the problem at hand then they could have the potential to help save a friend from a harmful relationship. Parents also need to take the steps to become educated on the problem. Teachers are required to take lessons on the problem and they only spend a portion of the day with their students. Yet parents, who have known the child potentially longer than anyone and are often in the closest range to the victim, usually know very little about the abuse going on around them. If parents could see what was about to happen, talk to their children, and take the necessary steps to stop the relationship from happening, the number of victims in teenagers could drastically decrease. Emotional violence needs to be taken seriously and people need to understand the problem to help solve it.

In teenage relationships, emotional abuse is a very serious and dangerous problem and people need to be more aware of it so that they can prevent it from happening. Every night there is a girl who falls asleep on her tear stained pillow wondering when she will be okay again and when, if ever, she will break free. What if this was your sister, your brother, your best friend, your son, or your daughter? Will you stand up for the victims and educate yourself on how to stop and emotionally abusive relationship?





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

AJfabrizzi said...
Oct. 13, 2011 at 11:52 am
It is very sad how true this is. You write very well, and I am glad to see you are using your words to talk about something so important. Very well done:)
 
Pumpkinscout said...
Oct. 9, 2011 at 6:20 pm
This is very powerful and true. Excellent. Keep writing!
 
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