ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

Letter of the Week: Emotional Abuse
June 24, 2003

Apparently there isn't enough physical violence to keep the people at A SAFE PLACE busy, so now they want to gather into the fold another group of "abused" women who have been "emotionally abused". (It was only a matter of time.)

Here is what I found (paraphrased) tacked to the wall in a public building -- a poster describing "emotional abuse" and contact information to call A SAFE PLACE on it, should you be a victim of the following (excuse me -- SURVIVOR of the following):

1) Threats
2) Humiliation in public
3) Criticism (continuous)
4) Name-calling
5) Denied your thoughts and feelings
6) Denied access to financial resources/the opportunity to participate in financial discussions
7) Destroyed property
8) Abuse of your children to punish you
9) Accusations of flirting or having an affair (unjust and continuous)
10) Prevented from seeking work
11) Locked out of the house
12) Isolation from friends and family
13) Abandoned in dangerous places
14) Denied affection (as punishment)
15) Manipulated with lies and contradictions

According to the poster, these are all forms of abuse and can have long-term and serious effects. The poster says this is not your fault and to call A SAFE PLACE. You don't have to give your name.

Call me quirky, but it seems to me that this is more appropriate for a marriage counselor than a women's shelter -- but hey, I'm only 60 so what do I know?

However, I suspect the advocacy groups running the shelters seldom encourage the woman to remain in a marriage while marriage counseling does. I say that because I visited a police station where the names of shelters, advocates and divorce attorneys are all passed out in one packet.

Actually, this new trend in abuse may be a blessing in disguise for men who have been accused of being the sole abusers for so long.

I know many, many, many men who have been a "survivor" of this type of abuse. Think about it -- denied affection to punish you (that's almost a cliche and many TV sitcoms use it as a joke), isolated from family and friends (allowed to see your mother much? or your best buddy before you got married?), humiliated in public (how about in front of your kids?), accusations of flirting (another cliche), criticism (and another), name-calling, lies and manipulation.

Maybe you guys should call A SAFE PLACE and express your victimization and see what kind of response you get. You don't have to give your name.

This whole thing is beginning to sound like it came straight out of one of the "Men are from Mars" books or a throw-back to "Women Who Love Too Much" a couple of decades ago (I remember a whole chapter on the isolation issue). But I guess if the shelter people can add to the ranks of the abused, they get more funds from Uncle Sam to operate more shelters.

It also sounds a lot like what women are putting on their restraining orders these days when they can't prove (document) any PHYSICAL abuse (which by the way is reported to have significantly decreased in the last two decades). Now you see threats, isolation, being locked out, withdrawal of affection, control of the bank accounts, etc. are all being used in divorce cases to PROVE that the man is CONTROLLING. Of course this is all based on the word of the woman and doesn't need documentation.

The only thing that doesn't apply equally to the abuse of men is preventing them from finding work. That willl never happen. Although preventing them from actually going to work will. You can't go to work if you are in jail or in Court.

Please understand, I'm not downplaying the seriousness of real emotional abuse -- I believe that men have been victims of it for a very long time and didn't know it. I'm also saying that in this instance the woman's tongue may be the "stronger" so that men get hurt more often and more seriously than women. (Get the drift?)

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is made possible by support from The Independent Institute and members like you.