October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the stats of women (& men) who are abused by their partners is increasing, resulting in lasting physical and mental impacts, & sadly, death. While I have experienced all forms of abuse, my goal as a survivor & therapist is to protect the fawn.
There are several forms of abuse. Physical, Verbal, Emotional, Mental, Sexual, Neglect & Financial are among the most prevalent ones. However, studies show that psychological abuse is the worse because it is the “igniter” stage of abuse. Psychological abuse is a combination of mental and emotional abuse that creates symptoms, similar to other trauma-related events.
This form of abuse disables the victim’s ability to think rationally. Cognitive Distortions lead to anxiety, and paranoia. It places fear and confusion on the victim, and mentally the victim is now stuck in “Freeze, Fight or Flight” mode because the victim feels threatened, but unsure of how to escape the perpetrator. If you are familiar with mental health terms, you may be are aware that these reactions occur when adrenaline kicks in & the body seeks to avoid danger.
However, the majority of abuse victims go into fawn mode, as they are unable to fight or leave. They feel defenseless & hopeless. This feeling of being stuck often leads to depression, and suicidal attempts or completion to exit the relationships.
Psychological abuse involves grooming, gas-lighting & love bombing techniques; terms you hear when narcissistic personalities are mentioned (by the way, physiological abuse is their tactic of choice) . The perpetrator subtly uses sarcasm or makes jokes, minimizing their behavior or blaming the victim, then apologizes. Often the perpetrator may start name calling, yelling, shaming the victim, ignoring (stonewalling) the victim, isolating the victim from loved ones or in some cases, neglecting the victim or taking things that the victim loves to punish them. Abusers manipulate the victim by using phrases such as (fill in the blank):
“I’m sorry, babe, when I _________, I ____________”
“Well, if you hadn’t have ___________, I wouldn’t have __________” or
“Since you_______________, how about I _____________?”
After the disagreement, the love fest begins again.
KNOW THIS: There is NEVER an appropriate reason to abuse someone or accept abuse from anyone! You are never responsible for someone else’s actions.
Are you able to recognize the early signs of abuse? Are the youth in your life able to recognize abuse when they see it? Download the excerpt below from my 2nd autobiographical book, Unmask You Too: Collections of Introspections to discuss abuse and ways to get out of abusive situations safely. Hopefully, my story will help others.
My prayer is that fawns turn into butterflies to fly free.
Let’s grow better together!