Emotional violence is a subtle form of abuse that is always overlooked. Although it does not have visible scars, it wounds a person enough to haunt them for their entire lives. This form of violence barely gets reported or even is seen as something incorrect by society at large. It is unfortunate that many in our society are undergoing emotional abuse but are unable to speak up and stuck in the toxicity of the bond.
People get away with taunting, accusing, mocking, belittling and raising their voices against people claiming it as something as non-violent and not dangerous. What they don't understand is that words may leave deeper scars than physical abuse can. They pierce right through the heart, hurt the people and haunt them for their entire life.
The society that we inhabit is a place where women around us have listened to the hurtful taunts and scornful remarks from people around them. From making a mountain out of minor mistakes to being negligent about things that concern women or giving them unsolicited advice without understanding them—all of these things disparage women.
How long must women tolerate this? Until when will women neglect their emotional well being? Why as a society are we still justifying emotional abuse by saying "Maara toh nahi na (He did not hit you)?" How long are we going to wait until we realise how grave the issue of emotional abuse is?
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Emotional Violence Is Abuse
Violence, when used to oppress others, in all forms should be condemned. One does not have to resort to using physical violence to abuse you; constant snarky comments, getting belittled, and not meeting your emotional needs intentionally are all part of emotional abuse. As a society, we dismiss any concerns until there are any physical scars. But for how long?
Mental wounds hurt and haunt those who are undergoing the trauma. It is difficult to notice emotional abuse which lets the abuser get away with everything. "It must be a slip of tongue", "They must be angry, don't worry, they love you" are all ill-judged excuses we receive when women flag emotional abuse.
The verbal and emotional abuse that women face in the workplace or at home aggravates or perpetuates mental health conditions such as, anxiety and depression. They severely damage the self-esteem and confidence of a woman. It could affect their entire personality thereby affecting every sphere of their life.
Additionally, a recent study inferred how emotional abuse had also increased among children. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports on child abuse which was recently released indicated that an alarmingly high number of teenagers had suffered emotional abuse. A majority of teens recorded that they endured insults, put-downs and other forms of emotional abuse from a parent or other adult at home during the height of the pandemic lockdown in 2020, the report stated.
We often just call them 'mere' words without understanding the impact it creates on those at the receiving end. It seriously shatters their self-esteem and the CDC data is one such proof of how emotional abuse is not a subject to dismiss. What we label as 'mere words' are enough to traumatise someone for their entire lives. And we lack acknowledgement of that.
Subtle or not, violence that is used for oppression often leads to an unhealthy society where the vicious cycle of abuse keeps going. Society must stop putting on a façade and acknowledge that emotional abuse is real instead of gaslighting the survivors into thinking it is okay to live in a toxic environment. We need to condemn emotional abuse, help survivors regain their sense of self and lead a life they deserve.
The views expressed are the author's own