Scars heal bone’s mend and bruises fade from psychical abuse…. But the ones that don’t are the mental scars left behind from Emotional Abuse.
People will always show sympathy when they see the physical evidence of abuse – but very seldom can they see the emotional scars that bind us more securely to our abusers than anything ever thought possible. I experienced this type of abuse to the extreme. I have gone through the pain of having my life and that of my family turned inside out and upside down as the result of emotional abuse. I know how it feels to reach the lowest lows and have to struggle to get my life back. At my lowest point I couldn’t eat or sleep, I just wanted to be alone, I tried to take my life. I was fortunate that my family and close friends while they couldn’t understand the depth of the pain I was in did understand it was for real. They accepted that I had been abused and that I needed help and support. There was no judgement. When I came through the initial cloud of despair and desolation that understanding and belief was a significant part of my recovery, as was and is the unrelenting support, care and consideration by my psychiatric and legal team.
Without any legal recourse or legal precedent the essence of my survival was to write my story. As my writing developed, my following grew with extraordinary support and compassion. As a result, strength and energy flowed back into my mind and body. I am so grateful to every one of YOU who emailed me and messaged me. Most importantly I am most grateful that – On The Edge -‘After’ Posts have given so many other women and to a lesser extent men who suffered or are suffering mental abuse by a spouse, partner or parent, comfort. They tell me that ‘After’ posts have offered them an understanding of what happened or is happening to them, a fortitude to believe in themselves and nerve in their resolve to be free from the abuse.
Then, I was hit by The Silent Bullet; Irish defamation law which tells me I have to prove my story, prove the truth. Naturally in a trial, there will be two diverging views. The victim will give her account as to what happened and then the accused gives his version. On the basis that the abuser does not believe, he is just that an abuser, the evidence will be diametrically opposed. The judge or jury have to make a finding on whether or not the victim was/is telling the truth, and for them to do that the truth has to be proven. The victim will find that the abuser with a history of lying has no problem effectively perjuring himself. Those that practice abuse are masters at imprisoning and isolating the relationship from the rest of the world. The majority of emotional abuse cases, are a private occurrence between the two people involved. To prove with evidence that your abuser raped your mind is virtually impossible. Just as they effectively eroded your mind they can equally translate to the outside world that you are the crazy one, and they are the victim. Don’t fear that. Never be afraid to tell your story honestly but with a Caveat; to protect yourself make sure you do so within the boundaries of defamation law in your country.
Defamation law doesn’t work well to protect reputations. It prevents the dialogue and debate necessary to seek the truth.
For the victim to have to prove the alleged abuse simply continues the abuse of the victim and places more stress on the family and friends of the victim. The legal system in Ireland, where I live, is not sympathetic to mental abuse and the odds are stacked against the victim. It is always easier to prove these cases where there are injuries or witnesses. The fact that I have psychiatric report identifying that I suffered PTSD directly attributed to severe mental abuse is not apparently applicable in a defamation case that refers to alleged mental abuse. However, medical and psychiatric reports in relation to psychical abuse are accepted as evidence for alleged physical abuse cases. Evidence of leading psychiatrists and three psychotherapists and my admittance to St Edmundsbury Hospital for my protection is not relevant. The fact that the story has a systematic pattern that fits mental abuse is put to one side. This type of contempt of mental abuse and mental health is ongoing and needs to end. Legislators and the law have an obligation to society to start confronting mental health abuse, and it’s consequences. The law needs to change, I have no experience or knowledge on how to go about lobbying for a change in the law, but I intend to find out. My mission is to try and bring about a change in Irish law in regard to emotional abuse.
The legal definition of domestic abuse needs to expand to include; any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, manipulation which causes mental damage; to include those aged 16 or over who are or have been, intimate with a partner, spouse, family members regardless of gender, sexuality or marital status. In the UK, the Home Office in August 2014 published a consultation document to enable the government to fully scope and explore the potential impacts of strengthening the law on domestic abuse. Ireland needs something similar.
A foundation of modern morality is the relationship of power and responsibility. The more power you have, the more responsibility you bear. (Inherent in the definition of abuse is the use of power without responsibility.) When we form emotional bonds – when we love and are loved – we gain a great deal of power over the emotional health and well being of the loved one, whether we want it or not.
Accompanying that power is the responsibility to protect those we love from deliberate and repeated psychological harm for the purpose of controlling or manipulating them or merely for the adrenalin rush of feeling superior. It is the responsibility of everyone to love without abusing the power that goes with it, and it is the civil right of everyone to love without suffering intentional and repeated hurt.
UK Government plans to strengthen domestic violence laws to better support victims of psychological and emotional abuse are partly about sending a message “that this is a crime, we are taking it seriously”, a Home Office minister told Good Morning Britain.
Emotional and psychological abuse in relationships could be given the same status under UK law as physical abuse.