Do You Need Proof of Emotional Abuse?

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by Annie Kaszina on November 7, 2017

I really wish my partner would hit me> Then I’d have proof!” wrote one despairing reader.

Do you suppose that she really means that?   Can she really want her emotionally abusive partner to hit her? Unlikely, right?

So, let’s ask a more useful question,

What is the truth that lies behind that woman’s words?

What the need for proof really means

What those words are really speak of, are confusion, desperation and paralysis.  She needs proof of emotional abuse. As things stand, the relationship is too hard to leave, yet too bad to stay in. If her partner would provide her with authentic proof of toxicity, that would give her sufficient clarity to pick herself up and walk out of his life.
Forever.

Allegedly.

But would that really be enough to do the trick?

My – educated – guess is that it would not.

Statistics indicate that in the US a woman is hit by her partner 35 times before she even files a police report.  (Nor are the statistics much better elsewhere.)

What this means is that even the appalling fact of being struck by an intimate partner is NOT enough to make the scales fall from a woman’s eyes.

An abusive relationship, of any kind, is one in which the victim repeatedly tolerates the intolerable.

Women who tolerate a lot of emotional abuse – in the sense that they stick around and try to talk their abuser round to a different point of view – do so because it feels familiar.

Why I needed proof of emotional abuse

When the wasband (then the boyfriend/boyfiend) threw his first hissy fit, he did so because he was feeling T-I-R-E-D. Therefore someone had to be punished.  Lucky me!

I did register that his reaction was odd. However, I had no idea of what such a strange reaction foretold.  Certainly, his response was not unfamiliar.  Both my parents could explode over anything – or nothing.

So, on the one hand, I knew that my wonderful, new boyfriend’s reaction was odd but, on the other, I knew that when these uncontrolled explosions happened, they were bound to be” my fault”.  An old sense of familiarity and guilt kept me in the relationship for a long, long time.

In reality, I needed proof – a LOT of proof – that Mr Wonderful Boyfriend’s hissy fit really was a problem.  So, I hung around for a LOT more years, and hissy fits, before I could no longer overlook the MOUNTAIN of proof of emotional abuse.  (By which time, of course, the relationship had gone from bad to hell-on-wheels.)

Only much later did I discover that I was not alone in needing to find proof of emotional abuse so indisputable that even the blind could not miss it.

Why does the whole sorry process have to take SOooo long?

Because we women who look for proof of emotional abuse are suckers for whitewashing and excusing bad behaviour.

All abuse is violence done to your psyche.

A phsyically violent abuser will use the same lines/lies to justify his behaviour as does an emotionally violent abuser – I use that term deliberately.  All abuse is violence done to your psyche.

Abusers of all persuasions will say,

“You made me do it. If you hadn’t done what you did, I’d never have done what I did. Besides, it’s not that big of a deal…”

While the woman who needs proof of emotional abuse– aka victim – will likely trot out all the usual excuses:

  • “It was the drink…” (Have you ever seen a bottle of alcohol get up and attack someone? Or even verbally assault someone?)
  •  “He was stressed over work/being out of work.”
  • “It was his old emotional baggage.”
  • “It was his financial worries…”

Why proof of emotional abuse takes so long to identify

What is the proof-seeker’s underlying concern in all of this excuse-making?

This is the proof-seeker’s way of saying,

“Well, I can’t be sure about this, of course.  However, I’m not sure that any of this really is proof of emotional abuse. I’m thinking that there might be a possible justification for his horrible behavior.  If there is a justification, then that means it really is all my fault.  And that would be both bad and good.  Bad because I hate to mess up.  But good because then it is NOT emotional abuse – it’s just me messing up.  And if I created this mess then maybe I can still sort it out.  Although I sure don’t know how because I have thrown everything I have at it and it hasn’t worked so far.  But maybe…” 

Do you see how the victim tries to exclude every other possibility before she considers  abuse. Even if that means making the curious and destructive quest to save a toxic relationship her true “life’s” work.

The lobster technique

Of course, an emotionally abusive relationship is never too bad at the start. (Bad enough but not too unbearably bad.) The abuser lulls his prey into a false sense of security by using the old lobster-cooking technique.  First, you pop your lobster into a big pot of cold water.  Then you slowly heat the water.  It takes the poor lobster a while to realize that something is badly wrong, there’s not much she (or he) can do about it.

The poor lobster never stood a chance – which is where the analogy ends. You do stand a chance.

What little I know about lobsters includes the fact that they are not too bright.  You are.

Once you lift the lid on the pot, you can always get out.  That wretched man may well have tried to tie your metaphorical claws. But try as he may, you can always break free.

Bidding a compassionate farewell to the poor lobster, let’s look, now, at a more productive way of understanding the situation – thanks to a wonderful device called a Crapometer.

It’s all about the Crapometer 

The Crapometer is, as you can see, simply a dial that measures quality of life.  The further towards the left the needle points, the more tolerable the quality of life you have with your partner. If you translate into Crapometer term, the email sent to me by the proof-seeking woman that gave rise to this article, then what she was asking was,

“The needle isn’t pointing to the brown, is it?  So, I’m not sure the situation is that bad.”

Not having been in this lady’s particular hell, I can’t say for sure whether that needle points at the brown, the red, or just the orange.  More to the point, it doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

Why not?

Because no matter where the needle is pointing, you are still talking about a Crapometer. 

Nobody should accept living their life on a Crapometer.  No matter where on that Crapometer the needle points.   A relationship that sits anywhere on the Crapometer is abusive, toxic, and profoundly destructive.

The fact is, you really don’t want to be in a Crapometer Relationship, at all.

How do you know if you are in a Crapometer Relationship?

How do you know if yours is a true Crapometer Relationship?

Simple.

You feel like crap around your partner.  Maybe not all the time but not uncommonly.

No relationship should ever be about giving, or taking, crap.

Life can be hard. However, dishing out and taking crap are unacceptable.
Feeling like crap around a ‘loved one’ is a sure indicator of a relationship’s toxicity.

The red flags don’t come any bigger than that.

You see, relationships don’t just happen. Someone sets them up. More precisely, in an emotionally abusive relationship, the abuser installs a Crapometer.  Right from the get-go.  He may not use it very much at the start. But, rest assured, it’s there, ready and waiting.

A Crapometer outlasts a relationship

That Crapometer is guaranteed to outlast ‘your’ relationship. The time will NOT come a time when your partner will turn to you and say:

“You know,  the time has come to turn off the Crapometer.  Your sweet and loving nature has finally won me over. From now on, I’m going to be a good and loving partner forever and a day.”

He loves that Crapometer more than he loves you.

What kind of a person loves a Crapometer more than another human being?

Someone who’s really, really into Crapometers.  Someone who’s not that mad about love and affection. Someone who is wedded to their Crapometer.

That means that, unless you want to remain wedded to that Crapometer, neck-deep in crap, you only really have one choice – you have to take your well-being into your own hands. And leave Mr Not-Off-The-Richter-Scale-for-Awfulness to spend even more quality time with his Crapometer.

That’s your only chance of happiness, wholeness, and being loved for the person that you are. He does not have to be the worst abuser in the history of the planet, your town, or even your own life experience, to be profoundly dangerous to your health.  Whether or not he resorts to physical violence.

You can live in the shadow of the Crapometer, or else you can enjoy a healthy, rewarding, joyful life. but you can’t do both. If he ever makes you feel like crap, then you have as much conclusive proof as you could possibly want.

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