Abuse How does emotional manipulation work

Domestic violence: abuse has many faces

Photographed by Kara Birnbaum.
When Ruth Glenn talks about what she does for a living, the people she talked to often try to change the subject. "They just feel uncomfortable," said the CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Since she was also a victim of domestic violence, she understands the reactions. However, she thinks it is necessary to talk about it - even if it is not easy.
In the United States alone, an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or other forms of abuse by their partner. So the problem is more widespread than you might have thought, and it could affect someone you know - if not yourself. This is why it is so important to deal with and understand the many different forms of domestic violence there actually is.
Many use the term, according to Glenn domestic violence synonymous with physical violence and with abuse think directly of rape. So you assume that the person concerned will be beaten or otherwise physically injured. But that is not always the case. Domestic violence and abuse come in a wide variety of forms and in order to recognize them, in order to protect yourself and those close to you, it is important to identify certain characteristics.

Emotional abuse

According to Glenn, emotional abuse is one of the most harmful and at the same time one of the most difficult to identify forms of violence. “This also includes one person putting another person down, disparaging them in front of others and telling you that they are worthless. It can also be expressed in utterances like 'Then leave me! Nobody takes you anyway! ‘Show or threaten to take away their children,” says Glenn. Manipulating someone in this way is absolute torture. “This robs the person of their independence and destroys them.” Specifically, the whole thing can take the form of insults, criticism, gaslighting or ignorance. Manipulation or the urge to use drugs are also part of it, according to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse can take place between strangers as well as with couples or married couples. The point is not necessarily that a person is forced to have sex, persuaded or manipulated. It can also be that both have agreed, but one of them wants to do something specific, but the other does not - like a special position or something similar.
A forced or tricked pregnancy also falls into this category.
According to Glenn, financial abuse can manifest itself, for example, in the perpetrator diverting part or all of the salary to his or her own account - or forbidding the victim to go to work. “Sometimes the perpetrator only provides some kind of pocket money, which then has to last for a certain period of time. Or she or he ensures that the victim goes into debt. This creates a dependency that cannot end the relationship. I've even seen cases where someone was forced to sign contracts or something like that, ”says Glenn.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse can mean either being prohibited from meeting one's own physical needs or causing physical harm to someone. Some perpetrators forbid their victim to eat or drink, others injure the victim, their child or their pet. Locking people in is one of them, for example.
According to Glenn, domestic violence is often about the perpetrator wanting control over his or her partner. This can manifest itself either in the form of one of the forms of abuse already mentioned, but also in stalking. For example, some people regularly check the odometer on their girlfriend's or boyfriend's car. Or they secretly read the messages and check the other person's call history. Some even use apps to track their partners. It is also not uncommon for victims to be isolated from their friends and family, says Glenn.
As soon as you notice that someone around you seems to be affected, you should be attentive, but not aggressive. Make sure to be sensitive if you want to approach a potential victim about the subject. Some victims are not aware of it, suppress it, belittle it or hope that their partner will eventually change after all. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. For example, you can say things like, “You've always been so energetic and in a good mood, but it's not been like that lately. Is everything okay with you? ”Or just:“ I'm always there for you when you want to talk ”. As a result, your counterpart (hopefully) does not feel too pressured, but seen and loved. In general: go through the world with open eyes and pay attention to your environment and yourself!
For example, if you are affected or know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, you can contact the number08000 116 016 or contact the “Violence against Women” helpline for online advice - a confidential, free 24-hour counseling service that offers anonymous, multilingual and barrier-free support. You can find a list of other contacts here.