Tuesday 24 October 2017

Letters to the Editor: Harm of emotional abuse can last longer than physical injuries

Picture posed.
Picture posed.
Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

I salute Mary Kenny's recognition of the curse of domestic violence ('Behind closed doors', Irish Independent, July 22), both on a national and international scale.

She has obviously never been the recipient of emotional abuse, however. The claim that protecting people from this type of abuse amounts to treating them like children is completely wrong, in my opinion. The harm inflicted by an emotional abuser can last well beyond the healing of a broken arm. The initial criticisms made by a previously charming, fun, and attentive partner (or other acquaintance: fill in as suitable) may not at first be taken too seriously; we all have our faults, after all. When these seemingly light-hearted comments increase in frequency, and spread to criticisms of friends and family, alarm bells should ring. In truth, though, they rarely do. How can the person who you look up to and/or care for so much really mean harm, after all?

When criticisms become more personal, and possibly physical, and controlling behaviour becomes more frequent, it is time to take action. At this stage, though, the emotionally abused has been so undermined and over-criticised that self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth are probably rock bottom. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to this behaviour, to risk being laughed at, discredited, and disbelieved, as the socially superior abuser has usually created a public persona very different to that known to the abused. So, please, Mary Kenny, do not further undermine the abused by claiming that supporting and caring for emotionally abused people is "belittling women's independence and autonomy".

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