Lot’s has been written and said about violence against women, be it physical or emotional. However, today, twenty-five of November, International Day for the elimination of violence against women. I don’t want, and we can’t exclude men who, surprisingly a large percentage, are also victims of any form of abuse.
International days should be a moment to not only educate society but also to address the root causes and possible solutions to create a new structure where everyone can feel safe.
In an era where technology usage is so prevalent in our professional, intimate, and social lives, it is urgent the understanding that nowadays the violence is amplified and more significant in the sphere and emotional context. Of course, physical abuse is a reality that requires specific measures as a form of combat. But it is also true that the law and victim protection system is too slow, providing the safety and emotional needs of the citizens.
Why should we be more aware of what is emotional abuse and why technology plays a role in it?
With the emergence of social media platforms, dating apps, instant messages systems, women and men are losing not only their ability to embrace and create enrichment connections. But also lacking in awareness to perceive red flags and toxic behaviors from others in different daily life contexts.
Emotional abuse may be hard to recognize because it can be subtle. And because abusers often blame their victims, acting like they have no idea why you are upset. Also, victims in the past, perhaps in romantic, familial, or professional relationships, were treated this way, so it can be harder to recognize the pattern and trust perceptions/intuition.
When we talk about abuse, be it physical or emotional, we are talking about the necessity to control or dominate. Here I present you some forms of emotional abuse:
Ghosting: the act of disappearing and not responding to your text messages or phone calls. It is a way of saying: I don’t want to deal with you.
Haunting: Someone who ghost and ended a relationship with you but keeps watching what you are doing on social media.
The Slow Fade: The tactic of fading away from your life without giving any explanation or giving superficial excuses.
Phubbing: Ignoring someone in favor of a phone.
Stashing: To keep options open, the person you are dating, don’t post anything related to your relationship or photos of you.
Zombieing: Someone who ghosted you comes back and says “hi”.
Gaslighting: Distortion of past events making the victim doubt her or his memory, perception, and sanity.
Left on read: Someone reads your message but doesn’t reply.
Love Bombing: Someone overwhelms you with loving words, actions, and behaviors to win your trust/affection.
Twisting: The act of giving you a compliment, for example, but after that, they blame you for their actions.
Smear campaigns and Stalking: A smear campaign is a preemptive strike to sabotage your reputation and slander your name, so you will lose your networking support while they are hiding their abusive behavior.
Triangulation: The act of validating abusive behavior by bringing a third party in the equation, which will invalidate the victim’s reaction to abuse.
Preemptive defense: They want to be seen as a nice guy or girl. Therefore you can trust them because they may perform a high level of sympathy and empathy at the beginning of the relationship to allure you.
Aggressive jabs disguised as jokes: Making malicious remarks at your expense. They might say it’s just a joke, and you are too sensitive, too dramatic, or not having a good sense of humor, which is, in reality, verbal abuse.
The hot and Cold dynamic: One day, they are loving and adorable to you. The very next day, they disappear and shut down emotionally.
I know that our brains are wired to connect with others. We need to feel a bond with other people. But we are losing touch with our capacity to love one another genuinely by pursuing impossible dynamics based on surreal romantic ideals and eroticizing rejection as a way to escape real love and real connections. Now, and to conclude this article, I leave for reflection a short text:
“People who are attracted to partners who hurt them often confuse chemistry and compatibility. In fact, these are both essential to a long-lasting healthy intimate relationship. Whereas chemistry (how interesting and stimulating you to find the person) is essential to keeping couples interested, compatibility (sharing common values, goals, having fun together and being able to provide for each other’s needs, support each other and work through things) will help a couple get through tough times. We might find it more exciting to be caught up in a push-pull dynamic with someone than to say yes to love that is readily available and healthy for us. The excitement comes from eroticizing rejection – it feeds that part of us that still feels like have something to prove.
Prove we are lovable or worthy. That we are so special that we can change someone’s mind or behavior, but that excitement also drains your energy, purpose, and connection to yourself. Any time we waste chasing someone to give us love, there is an unmet internal need for love and nurturance toward our inner-child. You don’t need someone else to reflect back on your wounds if they’re not willing to heal with you. You don’t need someone to trigger all of your insecurities by treating you like an after-thought or avoiding intimacy. Accept yourself and you can let healthy love in.”
Wishing you love,
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Gottman, J., Gottman, J. M., & Silver, N. (1995). Why marriages succeed or fail: And how you can make yours last. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Seidman, G. (2012). Positive and negative: Partner derogation and enhancement differentially related to relationship satisfaction. Personal Relationships, 19, 51–71. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-6811.2010.01337