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Comparing Abuse in Marriages with Abuse of Teenagers

Here is an article about emotional abuse in marriages. Next I compare this abuse with what is commonly accepted treatment of teenagers. S. Hein

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Emotional Abuse in Marriage
By James Walsh

More than often, spouses try to impose their will over one another by resorting to negative criticism, threats and insults. Yet, all this is done in the name of co-operation and love. It is a fact that emotional abuse is a common denominator in many marriages. However, the irony is that most of the times both the abuser and the victim are unaware of the fact that their marriage is marred by emotional abuse.

This is because emotional abuse often means one thing to the victim and another to the abuser. Both the abuser and the victim play an important role in this vicious cycle. On the one hand, the abuser is both a coward and a bully at the same time. He/she exposes his/her partner to such an inhuman treatment because he/she is sure that there will be no serious repercussions for this act on his part. On the other hand, the victim, often due to ignorance or for the sake of the marriage plays the role of a passive martyr.

What is needed is a heightened level of awareness on the part of both the spouses to save each other from this common vice. Any constructive relationship has to be based on mutual respect and understanding and a genuine concern for each other’s views, beliefs and opinions.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse often comes in the form of a bulky package. It involves a variety of behaviors aimed at battering the heart and the soul of the victim so as to gain effective control over him/her. The various attributes of emotional abuse are:

a) Isolation

Many a times the abuser tries to socially isolate the victim so as to make him/her dependent on himself/herself for his/her basic social needs and aspirations. A series of restrictions and controls are imposed over the victim, to gain control over his/her social life. It is the abuser who often decides about the persons with whom the victim will interact and the friends with whom he/she will socialize. Any external social support system imposes a threat and a challenge to the abusers authority over the victim. The abuser may often deliberately insult the victim’s friends and relatives so as to scare them away. The abuser may resort to emotional blackmailing, mood swings, tantrums and denial of communication to impose his/her will over the victim. He/she may take recourse to actively spying over the victim and may openly question his/her loyalty towards marriage. This is invariably accompanied by unreasonable demands on him/her. The chain of events may include checking on the victim, depriving him/her of any transport or means of communication, enquiring about his/her daily routine, criticizing his/her friends and relatives and so on.

b) Verbal Abuse

By verbal abuse we often understand yelling, shouting and calling names, which is very true. However, many a times the abuser may not be that blatant in his/her modus operandi and may take recourse to a subtle approach by using tacitly insulting or humiliating remarks. The basic motive is to undermine the victim’s sense of self worth and shatter his/her self esteem. Verbal abuse may also include insulting and criticizing the victim’s family, name calling, being sarcastic, making threats, blaming, etc.

c) Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is an extension of the emotional abuse where the abuser uses money as a tool to gain control over the victim. The abuser may deny appropriate financial freedom and support to the victim or may place unrealistic financial responsibilities on his/her shoulders. The abuser may exhibit financially irresponsible behaviour so as to disturb or confuse the victim.

Emotional Abuse is Worse than Physical Abuse

Though emotional abuse unlike physical abuse does not leave us with bruised eyes and swollen faces, still it is worse than physical abuse. The victim often fails to realize that he/she is being abused and may have his/her mind and soul bludgeoned to an extent where he/she may consider himself/herself responsible for his/her plight.

Is Divorce a Solution?

In the long run, emotional abuse may seriously damage a person’s mental and physical health. Under the British Law, emotional abuse is a valid ground for divorce and comes under the ambit of unreasonable behaviour. You have every right to protect yourself and your children from the long term damage of emotional abuse, even if it involves going for a divorce.

James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor.

Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Emotional-Abuse-in-Marriage&id=713074

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Comparison with Emotionally Abused Teenagers

A) Isolation

Here is what the author said about abuse in marriages.

A series of restrictions and controls are imposed over the victim, to gain control over his/her social life. It is the abuser who often decides about the persons with whom the victim will interact and the friends with whom he/she will socialize.

With teenagers, most people don't question the parent's legal right to stop the teenager from seeing his or her friends. Most people would just assume the parent is doing what they believe is best for the teenager. They would probably not see anything wrong with it and would be very unlikely to call it abuse.

But a reasonable parent who has a healthy and mutually respectful relationship with their teenager would talk to their teenager about their choice in friends if they were concerned, and more importantly, listen to the teenager's side of things. They would not simply dictate who the teenager could talk to or spend time with.

B. Verbal abuse

The author says that we understand that in a marriage, yelling and shouting is considered verbal abuse. But when a parent yells and shouts at a teenager, who believes that is "abuse"?

The author also says that verbal abuse may include name calling and threats. But if a parent calls their teenager names like "lazy" or "stupid" would people say that is verbal abuse? Also, it is common and routine for parents to threaten teenagers by saying things like "If you don't get your grades up ....", yet few people find anything abusive about that when it is done by a parent to a teenager.

C. Financial Abuse

The author says that the abuser uses money to control their victim and denies the victim financial freedom, but would people say that not allowing a teenager to get a job and earn their own money so they can have financial freedom is abuse? In some countries it is actually illegal for teenagers to get jobs before a certain age. This ensures that the teenager is financially dependent on the parents. The laws might have been meant to protect teenagers from exploitation, but sometimes the effect on the teenager is financial oppression. Many teenagers are not even able to save money during their teenage years so they will have it when they are legally free. For example, even if a country allows a teenager legal freedom at 18, the teenager might not have the savings to move away from abusive parents and is therefore still financially dependent on them. Some countries do not even allow a person under 18 to have their own bank account.

The author concludes by saying that a person who is being abused in a marriage has "every right" to protect themselves from the "long term damage of emotional abuse, even if it involves going for a divorce." But this same right is not given to teenagers. At the current point in history, a teenager in most countries around the world does not have the legal right to leave a home where the parents stop them from seeing their friends, stop them from getting a job, or call them degrading and insulting names. In other words, a teenager does not have any legal right whatsoever to protect themselves from the three types of emotional abuse listed in this article.

S. Hein
Podgorica, Montenegro
January 27, 2009