Why we should care about psychological abuse
Manipulation, and controlling and coercive behaviour, is now a criminal offence in England and Scotland under The Serious Crime Act, 2015. Offenders will receive a maximum of five years imprisonment, a fine or both. (Regrettably, this means that it may not be applicable to all countries or jurisdictions, and specific more to UK residents).
One person shares that their abuse began as a child:
My earliest memory as a toddler is standing terrified in front of my abusers, not understanding the silent treatment that I was being forced to endure, standing all alone, as they continued to ignore my upset and bewilderment whilst not allowing me to move from one specific spot. Various new abuses were invented as the years went by, some involving physical violence, and prolonged throughout my teens into adulthood.
The feeling it left one with was nothing short of psychological torture. It was designed to exert control over my every action, my every thought, with the ultimate aim to ensure that I would lose all sense of selfhood. This wasn’t just so that I would “toe the party line” as a young child, over the years it became increasingly clear that my conforming was only one aspect of what my abusers wanted from me. They were also looking for the complete denigration and stripping away of personality, trust in others and hope — the three things that rendered me an individual in my own right
The aftermath of which is long-lasting and deeply held flawed beliefs about my character, my feelings, wants and desires, and a deep and darkly consuming depression and panic that visits at the most inconvenient of life moments.
Physical abuse gets a lot of press coverage and media attention, and with good reason. However psychological and emotional abuse is also an extremely aggressive breaking down and gutting of another person’s sense of identity and entitlement to be a part of the world.
The burden that this is placing on society is beyond financial. It indicates a secret, lesser reported and insidious type of crime, affecting people across all aspects of their lives, with deaths from suicide and depression increasing among young people between the ages of 18–54 years, disproportionately affecting young men.
Mental health issues are frequently recorded to be a significant outcome of abusive relationships. Read more about the impact of mental health in the UK as part of our support for the World Health Organisation’s “Depression: Let’s talk” campaign as part of World Health Day.
The ONS breakdown of the March 2015 Crime Survey for England & Wales (CWES) highlights further frightening statistics:
- 10% of all victims (those that report, we don’t know the countless who do not report this either because they do not realise what is happening to them or recognise the signs of a manipulative and controlling relationship)
- 51% of female victims reported non-physical effects of this abuse, including ‘mental or emotional problems’ and ‘stopped trusting people or difficulty in other relationships’
Further statistics consistently show women and girls are disproportionately affected by crimes of domestic violence and abuse. This is underpinned by a wider societal gender inequality.
Regardless of what may drive someone to be manipulative and exert controlling behaviours, you do not deserve to be subjected to, or continue to accept, this aggression
This post is intended to bring attention to psychological abuse and it’s awful effects, giving us more than enough reasons to care about the effect it does, and will continue to have, on society should it go unchecked and without open debate, education and discussion.
We can and must do more to help people recognise, prevent and manage manipulative relationships.
That is why we do the work that we do at Chayn. Leveraging technology to empower and support all self-identifying women, first and foremost, against violence and oppression so they can live happier and healthier lives.
Every person has a right to live a life free from abuse
At Chayn, we want you to join us and help put a stop to this unjust patriarchy and protect victims of these crimes. In our latest guide, Manipulation is Abuse, we aim to throw light at psychological and emotional abuse, and the resulting repercussions.