When people think about abuse in relationships, they often assume the abuse is physical. Although physical abuse is a form of abuse, it’s not the only type. There are other kinds of abuse as well: emotional/verbal, financial, and sexual abuse. Emotional abuse is when someone constantly tells you negative things to try and bring you down; verbal abuse is when someone calls you mean names, humiliates you and threatens you. Financial abuse is when a person is denied access to money whether or not it’s theirs, when someone monitors and puts restrictions on what a person can or can’t buy, or when they’re not allowed to work, etc. Physical abuse is when someone is physically hurt: beaten, choked, shoved, etc. Sexual abuse is when someone is forced to perform sexual behaviors against their will. One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of
other types of youth violence.
In an emotionally/verbally abusive relationship, people may insult or humiliate each other and not view it as abuse because they can’t see the damage right away. Nevertheless, it is abuse and unhealthy; you just can’t see the harm the way you can with physical abuse. If someone you love and care about says negative things to you, you may start believing them yourself, which can ultimately affect your self–esteem. It may make you feel inferior not only in the relationship, but in general, which can interfere with accomplishing your goals. You may start to blame yourself for all of the emotional abuse and you may even become depressed because you start believing all the negative things your partner says. It’s also possible that you start believing that you’re incapable of finding a better partner, so you stay in the relationship, which causes you more harm.
If you’re in any kind of abusive relationship, you should:
- Reach out to your parent/guardian or a trusted adult
- Talk to your health care provider
- Call a hotline or organization i.e. Safe Horizon at 1-800-621-4673, National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474, The Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-HIT-HOME (448-4663), The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
Most couples in healthy relationships have arguments once in a while, and in the heat of the moment they may say things they wish they didn’t. However, it shouldn’t happen with each argument. If it does, get help!