How you can help identify and prevent emotional abuse the focus of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October
For Immediate ReleaseContact: Kelly Taft, MAG, 602-452-5020
Phoenix (October 3, 2022) - Unlike physical violence, emotional abuse is a hurt that can’t be seen. As we enter October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Maricopa Association of Governments is raising its focus on the harmful effects of emotional abuse. Like other forms of domestic violence, emotional abuse can affect people of all ages, races, and incomes.
Fifty percent of adults have experienced emotional abuse, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey conducted by the CDC. It includes behaviors such as threats, insults, regular monitoring, humiliation, controlling what you wear, being jealous of other relationships, intimidation, stalking, and more.
Words are the chief weapon of an emotional abuser.
“The old adage about sticks and stones can hurt but words will never hurt me is false,” says El Mirage Councilmember Anita Norton, who chairs the MAG Regional Domestic Violence Council. “Words CAN hurt. Although there are no initial physical signs of injury, the wounds are just as deep. Emotional abuse is domestic violence, and it is often the first sign of domestic violence,” she says. “If allowed to continue and if the wounds are left untreated, emotional abuse can have a detrimental and lifelong effect upon the victim,” adds Norton.
Sandra Dolores* said it took years to realize she was being abused emotionally by her partner.
“When we met, he was kind and generous. Slowly he became controlling and manipulative. One day I realized how much had changed. He said I couldn’t see or have male friends,” says Sandra. “He started monitoring my phone calls. He wanted full control of my bank accounts and needed to know where I was every second of the day. I am a professional, educated woman and I was so embarrassed to ask for help. I didn’t want my friends or family to know what I was going through.
When Sandra finally got the courage and help from my family to leave, she realized they had all known he was abusive, but no one other than her father stepped in to help. “It was a very difficult period of life. It is hard to talk about today, nearly 10 years later. I still look over my shoulder in public places hoping I don’t run into him.”
Emotional abuse appears to be the most common form of intimate partner violence. Those looking for help to escape emotional abuse are encouraged to speak with someone they trust, create a plan for their safety (including the safety of children and pets), and contact a domestic violence provider in the community for additional resources.
*Name changed to protect the survivor’s identity.