28 Sep #BellLetsTalk: Violence Against Women Doesn’t Stop at Physical or Sexual Abuse… It’s Mental Too!
Some of you may not know, but last year I ran for Miss Universe Canada. One of my sole reasons for running in such a high profile pageant was because I knew it gave me the platform to TALK about issues I was passionate about. One of those issues that I ended up being a strong advocate for was “Ending Violence Against Women” and speaking on behalf of the psychological aftermath of physical/mental/sexual abuse. I was honoured with the position of Public Ambassador for the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society, and continue to do work with them beyond my pageant days… but that why I want to start a Bell Let’s Talk (#bellletstalk) about violence against women in ALL FORMS.
You see, we don’t pay enough attention to the stigma of mental abuse. We often don’t give it the chastising it deserves because we can’t see it. There is not outer bruise or scar to pick up on. You don’t see any broken bones or smashed up skin. All you have is a broken spirit that is hidden away because of the fear, self-doubt, and gut-wrenching feeling of being mocked for being “too sensitive.”
Oh… he only JOKED about hitting you? Well, I wouldn’t say he was abusive.
My question is… WHY IS THIS OKAY?! Why are we sooooo damn silent on, not only rape and physical abuse, but specifically mental abuse. One of the first things I’ve noticed is that when you break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend (because guy’s are exposed to this too) is that they will spill all the nasty, rotten things that their partner filled their head with. You will hear all of the abusive comments and callous statements that were thrown at them over the course of their relationship. Now, some of you may say that this is because they’re trying to make the break-up feel valid and convince themselves that this was not the relationship for them to avoid the hurt they feel. Sure… that could be true. But I would also 100% argue with you that the reason you’re hearing it all now is because they didn’t feel their concerns were valid in the first place.
He treated me well. Most of the time.
He’s been really ‘good’ lately. We haven’t had a fight over how he talks to me in a long time.
He yelled at me venomously because I probably… a, b, c…
NO. Let me tell you this. Their is absolutely no excuse in the book that makes how him/her treating you disrespectfully and degrading you on an on-going basis ok. You might be saying that their ‘bad days’ aren’t mentally abusive. You may be thinking that their ‘joking threats’ aren’t mentally abusive. You could be telling others that they’re working on their ‘anger issues’ and not to worry. But I hate to break it to you… you should worry. If you have one thought… one– that they might hit you or lose their temper beyond control? Please put up your feelers and signal that red flag. Don’t keep creating excuses. Because when you are allowing someone to treat you with disrespect verbally and mentally? What do you imagine is next?
And that’s not all. It’s not just in the way he talks to you. It’s the way he or she treats you. Ever been in a relationship with someone that you’re not really in a relationship with? But yet… you’re not allowed to date others, but they can and you just didn’t get the memo? Yep! ABUSIVE. Cheating, lying, and toying with someone’s emotions is a mentally abusive action. They are abusing your mental well-being by selfishly putting their own agenda before a real human heart. There is a big difference in being selfish to protect yourself in a relationship vs. being selfish because you view your own feelings as more important in a relationship. The moment someone is leading you by a string and telling themselves that they aren’t doing anything wrong because you aren’t ‘together’ and ‘have a choice how invested you get’ is when I immediately want to scream PSYCHOPATH.
Yes, of course it is your choice how you let others affect you. I will be the first one to say you allow people to treat you how you teach them to treat you. Accepting this form of abuse is a problem that only you can fix because you will never change the way that they treat you, but you can change the ways you accept it. However- now that I’ve played devil’s advocate… I want to say regardless of that, it doesn’t make it okay what this other person is doing. They’re well aware of their actions, they just don’t care. They don’t have the mental capacity to care because right now, it’s all about them. Some of them? Yah.. they might realize it later. Usually men like this get the paradoxical blessing of having a little girl one day who most likely WILL go through what they put the women in their past through. Maybe that gives you some sort of comfort in a bizarre kind of way… But I can promise you, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Me? I went through a form of this. Hence my passion and captivation with the topic. But I made it through. Yes, there were many sleepless nights, endless tears, and seething anger that came from a rollercoaster of being someone else’s emotional yo-yo. However… it did not break me. I got stronger. And I realized that regardless of all that happened that I was… made for love.
So today, on Bell Let’s Talk Day, let’s add one more message: Stop treating mental abuse like it’s not validated in our society, stop ignoring the voices of men and women that are crying out to be seen in a world where their scars are not visible.
Remember that you are MADE FOR LOVE!