emotionally abusive relationship

How To Be A Bystander

I went to a training course last week to learn about what I can do to improve my own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others. We talked about unconscious stereotyping, addressing people from minority backgrounds with respect and how their needs might differ from our own. Eventually, the speaker began talking about being a bystander to a negative situation. This really caught my attention. What could I possibly do to help? How do I know if I should intervene?

She told us the story of an 18 year old girl named Emily who ended her life after being physically and emotionally abused by her boyfriend. There were people in Emily’s life who knew that this abuse was going on, including friends. She even reached out to a student resident assistant before dropping it so as not to get her boyfriend in trouble. It is easy, with hindsight, to say ‘someone should have done something!’ but this has nothing to do with blame. I think we have all been guilty of standing by because we didn’t know what to do or how but it is this behaviour that allows things to escalate.

Take cases of severe sexual assault. It is, of course, true that not all men are rapists; if we take the whole population of men, the number who have sexually assaulted women is fairly small. But these offenders are protected by the many who affirm this behaviour with their catcalling and their ass-smacking and their ‘it’s a compliment’, and the people who witness this and do nothing, say nothing, never speak up just re-affirm this unsettling thinking. Our silence says, ‘It’s okay, you won’t get in trouble for this’.

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I’m not saying that it’s always a good idea to confront someone who is harassing another person. It’s not. In a lot of situations, it could make things worse – the harasser could get angrier, become more violent towards the victim or even target you – which is why I’m going to tell you the steps I learned to figure out what to do.

First, recognise the situation. Is there someone at risk or someone who is being threatening? Am I reading the situation correctly? Is it safe for me to intervene? Second, ask for help! Check if there is anyone around you who might be able to help diffuse the situation. This could make it safer for you to do so. Third, consider your group size. Is there enough people to safely intervene? As the saying goes, there is strength in numbers, so please do not try and approach on your own! Finally, be a role model. Often, people won’t do anything to help because they see others not doing anything, but you can be the person to pave the way (just not alone!). 

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I think it is important to point out here that being a helpful bystander does not always mean jumping to the rescue during a bad situation. Sometimes you can be more helpful afterwards by providing support, showing empathy and helping someone deal with a situation.

This is especially true now, with rates of sexual assault at university being horrifically high. A recent survey by Revolt Sexual Assault found that 62% of people who had gone to university had been sexually assaulted, with this rising to 70% when considering females alone. Outside of uni, there is evidence to suggest that men experience more emotional abuse from their partner compared to women whilst women reported more forced isolation.

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Being aware of these facts helps us appreciate the weight of the problem. No more ‘oh, it can’t be that bad,’ no more ‘it’s not my problem.’ We live in a society that has turned a blind eye under the pretence that it’s not our business. But violence, and especially relationship violence, is our business. Looking away is what allows things to spiral out of control until it’s too late. Don’t let it be.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month. Stand together. Help each other. Break the cycle.

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Words by Jessica Yang for Anthem Online.

Sources: The Guardian (2017), Revolt Sexual Assault survey (2018), Karakurt and Silver (2013) Emotional abuse in intimate relationships: The role of gender and age.

Image sources: itsonus.org, Sarah Newey for Revolt Sexual Assault, Google Images

 

Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Before I expose a very weird moment from 2015, I want to make sure you are aware of what an emotionally abusive relationship is.

Source: http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotional-abuse-definitions-signs-symptoms-examples/

I haven’t had the greatest experiences with relationships, I can pinpoint a few guys who I think are amazing people, but I can also pinpoint a time where I was emotionally abused but too young and ignorant to understand. So I’m writing this article is to raise awareness of emotional abuse in relationships.

Let’s name this guy Ben Circles.

Ben Circles and I met around July 2015, and like any other first impression, I thought he was pretty cool (him being an art student, and looking like Damon Albarn from Blur). We were very different people but had similar interests, so me forgetting to think before I act, we decided to go on regular dates.

Ben Circles was in fact, a loner. As peak as it sounds, I don’t think he had a ‘squad’ the only person he spoke about was his recent ex-Girlfriend of two years. During our short-lived “relationship”, I came to realise that Ben Circles had some serious issues with how he views women. I can safely assume he identifies as a feminist just to get girls to like him *vomits*. Late July, I get my first job, and things start to go wrong. Ben Circles began to whine about how my job was limiting our time together. My internal reaction was “Fuck off mate”. My external reaction was “Sorry, let’s meet up after work”. As you can see, I knew it was wrong for him to complain but tried to be nice. One evening in particular when I met him in Southbank, I had a good time but wanted to return home around 10:30pm. Ben Circles became incredibly frustrated with me because I turned down his offer to go back to his house. I make my own decisions of what I want to do and where I would like to go. As we walked towards Charing Cross station, I was incredibly taken aback by his behaviour. To make things worse he pulled a face that looked as if he was about to cry. Mate, grow up. You’re not entitled to me, and crying isn’t going to change my mind.

Ben Circles started to complain about our relationship because: I hadn’t been over to his house, I’d only wear my wigs around my friends, and during lunch I’d look at my food more than I looked at him. At this point I realised that I wasn’t standing up for myself, I began to only consider his feelings over mine. This is one of the first signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

August 2015: my cousins wedding in Las Vegas. I reached a point where I was ready to dump Ben Circles’ foolishness into the trash. Ben Circles had asked not to be in contact with me while I was in Vegas, because he would become anxious if I didn’t reply to him *rolls eyes*

I’ll let you judge from these receipts:

Facebook group

This is how emotionally abusive partners manipulate you.

They convince you that you are unworthy.

They convince you that they are entitled to you emotionally and sexually.

They teach you to consider their feelings over yours.

They convert you from human to object.

After the “you probably aren’t worth it”, my feminist agenda stepped forth and said enough! I took out the trash and dusted my hands. You should never ever let anyone speak to you in that way. Men and women like Ben Circles are nothing but dirt. They’ll never love or respect you, only abuse you.

If you are reading this article and realising that your partner is a “Ben Circles”, please remove them from your life. Fuck the memories and fuck how long you’ve been together. If someone is emotionally abusing you, there’s every chance things could worsen, and even end up physical. If you have children together, you ought to protect them too before social services steps in or worse, your partner begins to abuse them.

After Ben Circles, I entered my first year of university with the mind-set “fuck relationships”. Now I can happily say I met the most wonderful guy that’s ever entered my life; you are worthy of being loved and respected. If your partner is emotionally abusing you, you need to act on it. Abusive relationships are not romantic, they are poisonous.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those who supported me during the Ben Circles period. Thank you for giving me confidence and laughing at his ridiculous behaviour.

Peace, Love and Cacti
Courtney McMahon

 

 

Further advice and help can be found here: http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/emotional-abuse.html

Words by Courtney McMahon, definition originally by http://www.healthyplace.com
Images courtesy of Courtney McMahon