Emotional Violence in Intimate Relationships: A Survivor’s Stories of Pain, Resistance and Hope

WARNING: This post might be triggering for survivors of intimate partner violence.

Emotional abuse in intimate relationships is among the most common, yet most under-reported forms of gender-based violence. The World Health Organisation (2002) defines emotional abuse and controlling behaviour as including insults, belittling comments, constant humiliation, intimidation, threats, monitoring a partner’s movements, isolating a partner from others close to them and restricting a partner’s access to money, employment, education or medical care. In India, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 provides recognition to verbal, emotional and economic violence in intimate relationships, while the National Family Health Survey has been consistently collecting large-scale statistics on its occurrence. Yet, despite these measures, emotional abuse continues to be relatively poorly-understood.

In this context, an anonymous blog known as ‘Chrysalis – a survivor’s blog’, written by a survivor of emotional abuse, sheds light on the trauma that accompanies such acts of violence. The author of the blog describes herself as someone with ‘a normal life, a career, and a job I love’. In detailing the worst days of her abuse, and how she managed to ‘rebuild her life as a survivor’, this courageous writer presents valuable insights into the insidiousness of emotional violence. Here are some excerpts from a recent post:

‘When living with emotional abuse, psychological violence is your life […] Violence migrates from a sporadic episode (and even that is obviously not ok ) to your everyday, your normal, the daily reality to which you wake up and live. Well, in my case it was really waking up with it – his abusive text messages were the first thing I saw every day. But in an abuse context, violence becomes the norm and non-violence the safe haven – the island of peace you crave and want, and that shows up so, so much more sporadically over time.

[…]

But it also is the case that deconstruction of normalisation – and transition from victimhood to survival – is the first step to rebuilding your life.’

We hope that this blog will serve as a source of support and solidarity for others who are facing, or have faced, emotional abuse, while also creating awareness more generally on the lived realities of survivors.

References:

Law, justice, gender violence: New UN report

In its first report since it was founded in March 2011, UN Women has forcefully made the connection between having more women in politics, having gender-sensitive laws, elimination of impunity for sexual violence and women’s empowerment.

For anyone who’s been engaged with research, service provision or advocacy around gender violence, reading the new Progress of the World’s Women report (http://progress.unwomen.org) is both moving and heartwarming. The report quotes the European Court of Human Rights 2002 judgment in the Bevacqua vs Bulgaria case:

“When a State makes little or no effort to stop a certain form of private violence, it tacitly condones that violence. This complicity transforms what would otherwise be wholly private conduct into a constructive act of the State.” (page 47)

This report is both an educational and an advocacy asset. Check it out today!