THE BLOG

Can Emotional Abuse Ever be Proven?

29/01/2015 10:44 GMT | Updated 25/03/2015 09:59 GMT

In a series of articles I explore effects of domestic violence, looking at the impact on children along with statistics and abuse in same sex relationships.

Domestic violence can come in many forms such as physical, financial, sexual, and emotional abuse.

In this article I investigate the effects of emotional abuse. Speaking with survivors and finding out from their own experience what it is and was like in an emotional abusive relationship.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse cannot be seen as physical scars can, can be witnessed, however depends if it occurs with others present, and it can be damaging to the victims well-being and more so their future self.

This type of abuse can come in many forms, from name calling to isolation. The perpetrator can be a boyfriend, husband, girlfriend, wife, and brother, sister, mother, father or any family member and friend.

According to the NSPCC, emotional abuse includes humiliation, threats, blaming towards a child. The overall definition is not much different for adults.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS), state out of 200 women spoken to 76% were subject to continued verbal and emotional abuse by the perpetrator.

One victim I spoke to Jane* explained the effects of emotional abuse from her mother from a young age and continuing.

"I would come home from school and never know what mood my mum would be in. If she had had a good day, then she was in a good mood, if she was stressed or something had not gone her way, she would pick fights with me. At first it was raised voices and yelling, this led on to name calling, threats of being hit or thrown out of the house. I would protect myself, stand up for myself and ask her not to yell at me or call me names, at least try, and my mum would start screaming and crying and leave the room, leaving me guilty that I had upset her. It is only now in my adult years that I discovered I was emotionally abused. How could I tell people and prove it was happening? My mum would do it out of sight of other people, however she could be heard, back then nothing could be done"

Jane described how this continued though her teens and into her twenties. She is now working towards being a survivor of emotional abuse and hopes her and her mum can have a mother and daughter relationship one day.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Norman Baker, Home Office Minister (click for video) said "emotional abuse can be just as serious or as debilitating as physical abuse."

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Norman Baker, Home Office Minister - Picture Courtesy of ITV

Mr Baker spoke in August 2014 after Home Secretary Theresa May launched a consultation on creating a specific criminal offence of domestic abuse. Under the new proposed law men and women who put their partners in a cycle of emotional abuse would be prosecuted.

It is not just women who receive emotional abuse. Edward* separated from his wife and is now receiving counselling after he was received emotional abuse from his wife during his marriage. Edward* and his wife would argue, this led to his wife calling her husband names and derogative abuse. As a man, Edward* felt he should be able to handle this from his wife. It is only now, coming out of the marriage he realises that he was in an emotional abusive relationship. Edward* said "During the pregnancy of our first child, my wife's temper was fiery, I thought this was normal and just her hormones, however my confidence took a nose-dive and I struggled to cope. I didn't know what to do. I loved my wife, but the name calling was knocking my self-esteem and I didn't want my child to grow up in that sort of environment. Me and my wife talked about that we were not getting on anymore and we separated.

Physical abuse can come from emotional abuse. At Christmas, Catherine* received physical abuse before emotional abuse from her then boyfriend. At present, Catherine* lives in fear of another attack. He, now ex-partner, has been released on bail and awaiting court hearing. However if it was not for the physical bruises and cuts, how would the court know that Catherine* was emotionally abused too?

Emotional abuse can be psychological damaging and lead to the self-harm, suicide and further mental health conditions. However, how can it be proven that emotional abuse has led to further damaging to a person's well-being and mental health?

If you need help from emotional abuse or any type of domestic violence, please visit the websites below:

the Freedom Programme

Teach Through Love

ASCA

*Names have been changed to protect the identity