Mental abuse is a form of domestic violence, according to The National Network to Ending Domestic Violence. It can comprise of repeated verbal put downs, dismissing, marginalizing, name calling, insults, criticism, objectifying, mind games, blaming and sarcasm. Its effects are destructive and can mentally and emotional imprison a victim within the relationship. The victim grows to believe they are dependent on the abuser for all of her needs. Getting out of a mentally abusive relationship is a difficult undertaking and anyone attempting this should consult a licensed therapist.
Moving Towards Safety
Seek a professional licensed therapist to guide you through the process of leaving your abuser. This is a difficult situation, and you need to plan carefully. The most dangerous time for a woman in an abusive relationship is when she is leaving, according to No Safe Place. This fact underscores the crucial need to see a professional licensed therapist with years of experience with clients of domestic violence. You have a right to ask about the therapist's experience and approach. They will be familiar with resources, law and research to guide you.
Prepare to leave. Leaving isn't just a decision made in a moment. In order to leave safely and live independent of your abuser, there are many things you need to put into place. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one of the first things to do is document the abuse. This means dates, times, who was present, what was said and what was done. Keep this in a very safe place where your abuser has no chance of finding it. One suggestion is a bank safety box in your name only at a bank not used by your abuser. The Hotline also suggests either calling the hotline or a shelter in your area to educate yourself on resources and the law regarding domestic violence.
Make a safety plan. Having a safety plan won't guarantee your safety, but it can increase your safety and the safety of your children. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the plan should include things such as how and where you will escape, if you want the police present, important documents, money, clothing, maps, an untraceable cell phone, medication, an extra set of car keys, bus routes and a plan B for a destination in case he discovers where you are going. If you have children, you will need to have them packed and ready to go as well. Contact schools only after you have left from a secure line.
- Seek a professional therapist regarding leaving an abuser. Call 911 if you are in imminent danger.
Josee D'Amore is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, where she is the founder/owner of Gems of Hope Counseling. She specializes in relational wellness including friendships, siblings, spouse/significant others, children, parenting, abuse/trauma, grief/loss and care-giver support. She is the author of "The Soul's Fight: Wrestling with Forgiveness".
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