A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

Break The Cycle!
By Gwen Jimmere

This one is for my girls. My sisters. My confidants. Not trying to alienate the fellas, ‘cause Lord knows I love ya’ll, but… 

We all know abuse is wrong – all forms of it. But when we think of domestic abuse, we tend to associate it with black eyes and bruises. Rarely do we focus on emotional abuse, which in my opinion, can be even worse sometimes than the physical kind. Of course physical abuse is appallingly dreadful, and thank God it’s punishable by law. If only we could send the losers to prison who inflict emotional scars that last for months, years and sometimes decades, the world would be so much better, wouldn’t you agree? 

Emotional abuse is silent and subtle. It will drive you absolutely crazy and cause you to do things you would never naturally do in a million years - things that aren’t part of your character. Emotional abuse will have you running around like an idiotic moron just trying to save your sanity. You won’t know who you are anymore. It will cause a slow and silent inner death that you need to be aware of in order to avoid it.  

Emotional abuse is so cleverly subtle that you may be willing to accept it, assuming that the way it manifests is simply an unavoidable part of your partner’s personality. It’s what makes them who they are, right? Little do you know, they are controlling you little by little every day so they can maintain the power in the relationship.  

Emotional abusers tend to be confrontational, opinionated one-uppers (someone who tries to regularly out-do others). You must understand some typical signs of emotional abuse because nine times out of ten, you don’t even realize you’re being abused. The following is a non-inclusive list of traits you need to watch out for: 

You are probably a victim of emotional abuse if your partner: 

• Ignores your feelings but makes certain theirs are known 

• Disrespects, humiliates and/or yells at you in public or in front of others 

• Demeans your family traditions, religious beliefs or other feelings important to you 

• Is constantly sarcastic to the point where it becomes hurtful, then tells you it’s only a joke and that you should lighten up 

• Ignores you or walks away from you when you are talking to them, particularly during an argument  

• Hurts you, particularly when you are down 

The list goes on and on. 

Here’s the thing about emotional abuse: when you are going through it, you can’t see the forest for the trees. When you are on the outside looking in, it’s quite obvious what's going on. It’s a vicious cycle. The abuser hurts you, you know it’s wrong, you tell them you refuse to take it, they apologize, you give them another chance. This repeats and repeats and eventually you are stuck in a rut of a cycle that you can’t get out of. You love your partner so much that you just know this time they are going to change. Only they change for a few weeks, maybe a few months, then it’s right back to square one. And in the end, it’s always your fault, or so they say.  

Listen, it’s not you. No matter how much an abusive partner tries to convince you that you're the villain, I’m telling you that's simply not the case. Everyone knows it takes two to tango and it’s impossible for you to be doing all these horrific things on your own. Do not accept the blame game. You are entirely too beautiful for that mess.  

Here’s what I hear a lot from people: “My partner treats me like crap, they disrespect me, they are cruel to me, but I love them regardless.” And that makes it okay to stay and hope they will change? I don’t think so. Get Help!

Better to sacrifice those feelings now than to relinquish your own self-esteem, personal value and power. Trust me, it's not worth it.