Is threatening to harm your partner an act of violence?
When you think about violence, what comes to mind chomas? Most of you might say hitting, pushing or anything that has to do with physically harming another person, right? It’s normal to think that way, many people do. But did you know that acts of violence are more than just physical harm?
Violence can take on many different forms, one of them being emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is a form of abuse also known as mental abuse or psychological violence. It happens when one person victimises another person by behaving in ways that make the person feel scared, anxious, depressed, stressed or traumatised.
Here are examples of emotionally abusive behaviour:
- Yelling, insulting or swearing at someone
- Calling someone offensive names, embarrassing them in public, blaming them for everything and always putting them down
- Constantly ignoring someone’s presence, conversation or value
- Making someone feel afraid, intimidated or threatened
- Limiting someone’s freedom of movement and/or stopping someone from contacting other people (like friends or family).
- Controlling someone’s money, withholding money, preventing someone from working, stealing or taking someone’s money
- Bullying someone by purposely and repeatedly saying or doing hurtful things to them
Threatening to harm your partner is emotionally abusive behaviour that can be seen in all the examples listed above chomas, because threatening them could mean that you’re insulting them, bullying them, making them feel devalued and you’re limiting their freedom because they’d be too scared to do anything. Even if you’re not physically hurting them, this is still a form of violence. Non-physical violence can be just as traumatising as physical violence. Just because you can’t see the scars, doesn’t mean that they are not there. Emotional scars can lead to depression, long-term trauma, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Remember that abusers try to gain power over their partners and they use many ways to do this. One way is threatening to harm someone, because it makes the other person too scared to behave in a way that is not pleasing to the abuser.
If you’re a victim of abuse (any form of abuse), one way to heal from it is to actually get help.
Don’t take threats of abuse lightly. If your life is in danger, contact the South African Police Services (10111)
You can also contact:
POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse): 011 642 4345/6
Stop Gender Violence helpline: 0800-150-150
Childline South Africa: 08000 55 555
LifeLine South Africa: 0861-322-322
If you still have questions about emotional abuse, remember that you can also send me a message on Ask Choma.
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