Shade One and Two
“Sometimes the shame is not the beatings, not the rape. The shaming is in being asked to stand judgment.” ― Meena Kandasamy
If you are anything like me, there is an awareness of Physical and Sexual abuse. I grew up in a rough neighborhood and knew all about being aggressively attacked. Punching, hitting, kicking, strangling, or physically being restrained. I later learned that this aggression is a form of abuse.
I remember being very pregnant with my first child and my husband purposefully driving recklessly one evening with the intention of frightening me. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this too is physical abuse as it threatened my life and that of my unborn child. This, and other acts, created a feeling of being unsafe.
I also have a podcast segment exploring sexual abuse. We talk about rape or other forced sexual acts, unclear boundaries, and the wielding of power and control over someone in this manner.
And still there are other forms of abuse that show up in our lives.
As I became ever more aware of my limitations, my unhealthy patterns, and the power of intention, I became aware of how I had allowed myself to be victim of abusive situations and how, when I realized what I saw happening around me, I realized I had the power to change my life forever.
“Some things that goes out of your mouth can wrap itself around your neck and choke you to death in future.” Michael Bassey Johnson
Ah, the power of the spoken word. It cuts deeply, whether you speak it to yourself or hear it from others. It is passing judgement, blame, and pain.
I was raised with a brother that used words to feel more powerful and would “go for the jugular” with justification that it was “just to get a rise out of you.” I learned from the best and returned the fire one day.
I discovered how powerful words can be when his wife told me never to do that again. And so, I became aware of the power of language at the age of 16 and how that can impact another.
And even still, I found myself involved in my first real relationship where I got to be reminded how ugly I was, how fat, how stupid, how useless, and how there “must be someone better for me out there.,” becoming convinced that I was “less than” in every way possible.
Although I finally left that relationship and began rebuilding my self-esteem, the wounds were deep, re-opening frequently with a well-placed word. This is a healing journey.
“Victims of emotional abuse can experience more severe psychological reactions. A victim may feel their emotions are affected to such an extent that he or she no longer recognizes their own true feelings related to issues or situations the abuser is trying to control. As a result, the victim’s self-concept, confidence, and independence are systematically broken down.” — Barrie Davenport
Verbal abuse often is a segue to a deeper psychological abuse. Living and/or growing in this type of environment usually is combination of verbal, physical, and emotional manipulation making the victim doubt their own sanity.
I know that I believed my “loved one” would not want to harm me and so I must have been a failure in so many ways.
Mental abuse brings this up to another level with isolation and mind games. Psychological abuse created an environment where, being abused, I learned to rely on this individual for more and more, believing I did not have a grasp of what was really happening and that my recollection of what was going on was off base.
- You ruined dinner again.
- I can’t have company over, you embarrass me.
- When we go out, you’re no fun anymore.
- What have you done with the finances?
Just a few examples of what I heard day in and day out.
It was when someone outside both our circles asked me to question and look at my life from other perspectives that I began to see the manipulation and control going on in my life.
“Abuse grows from attitudes and values, not feelings. The roots are ownership, the trunk is entitlement, and the branches are control.” — Lundy Bancroft
Abuse is about dominance and control and what better way to control someone than with access to money. Without access to finances, the victim is trapped.
Control and dominance might be wielded by controlling the budget, all bank accounts in one name without access available to both, placing a limit to spending money, and maybe not enough for necessities.
I remember not working as I had a new baby and my spouse expected me to be home. This resulted in managing the winter in sandals, recycling cloths for my child, and managing my shopping for food to stretch to cover meals.
Meanwhile my spouse cashed his check at the bar to pay his tab every week.
Some of the ways an abuser controls the victim are:
- takes control of all finances and hides what the financial health of the family is.
- The victim experiences financial harassment as finances are monitored, each purchase scrutinized, and each expenditure is questioned.
- Significant other does not contribute to the household expenses and still controls finances.
This is a case where money is power.
“Women who accuse men, particularly powerful men, of harassment are often confronted with the reality of the men’s sense that they are more important than women, as a group.” ― Anita Hill, Speaking Truth to Power
Cultural abuse includes spiritual abuse, where abuse happens under the guise of religion, including harassment or humiliation. Cultural abuse happens when abusers use aspects of a victim’s cultural identity provides a means to manipulate and control and this power is used.
There are still cultures where women are the “property” of their spouse and have no rights to property, finances, or major decisions. When this knowledge is used to inflict suffering or control, the intention of abuse is clear.
The intention of abuse is control and the means creates isolation and confusion. The victim feels lost, hides their guilt for failing a relationship, and internalizes their pain.
“I’m broken. I’m just so fucking broken, that nothing can fix me.” —Unknown
Understand that abuse can appear in all relationships, partners, friends, and business. Recognizing that this is happening and finding a way out is the key to hanging on to self-esteem and your own identity.
Being present in the uniqueness of the moment allows you to take control, accept responsibility, and be aware that your purpose, power, and presence belong to you alone.
Let go of the trap and the fear, reach out for help, be confident you do not have to go through this alone. If you want to know more, go ahead and schedule a complimentary session with me today at: Complimentary Coaching
If not now, when?