Contrary to popular belief, violence against women does not only manifest itself in the form of physical violence, but it can also manifest itself as insults, restriction of freedom and recurrent humiliation.
Psychological violence is silent and takes place in the intimacy of the couple's life or even between relatives.
Psychological abuse is also known as Gaslighting, the term comes from 1938, from the play Gas Light that inspired the movie À Meia Luz, in which the husband tries to drive his wife crazy by manipulating the house lights (which used to run on gas) and then denying that the light has been altered when your wife contradicts you.
When we talk about psychological violence, it is normal that it is surprising when we elucidate that it can cause as much or more trauma and damage to the victim's emotional state as physical violence and even torture, as has been shown in many studies.
Yes, people who are victims of psychological abuse may be more susceptible to depression, drug addiction, alcoholism, suicide, sleep and eating disorders, in addition to the somatization of illnesses.
As self-esteem is undermined, the victim closes off, ends up losing social ties and becomes increasingly isolated, which makes all of this more dangerous because in addition to the victim weakening and not being able to verbalize a request for help, she loses few external references of what it is like to be in a healthy relationship.
How do I identify that I am suffering psychological abuse?
Does your partner constantly humiliate you using lewd insults, ironies and insults with the purpose of belittling you?
He apologizes but does it all over again, doesn't seem to have any self-criticism?
He does not empathize with the feelings of others, nor does he express genuine emotions towards others.
He is an extremely controlling and calculating person, only the law he establishes is valid and his “principles” are fragile and questionable.
He is manipulative, at the beginning of the relationship he was an apparently considerate partner, but after a while he began to impose his will to the detriment of his freedom.
When you get hurt by something he's done, he accuses you of being "hyper-sensitive, fresh or spoiled" and his most frequent statement is "that's in your head, you're crazy, out of control, I didn't do any of that, yeah you who imagine things”.
He has an explosive and fickle temper and blames you for getting nervous or having him mad.
The aggressor's goal is always to leave the victim insecure and cornered; psychological violence often precedes physical violence, if the victim always backs off, the aggressor will always repeat the behavior, thus turning an endless circle of humiliation and verbal aggression that penetrates deeper like an arrow in the already weakened prey.
The abuser causes the victim to begin to doubt his sanity and question his worth as a person. It is worth remembering that psychological violence can manifest itself in all social classes and cultures, but unfortunately it is still very chronic and present in macho cultures, which have a patriarchal historical heritage.
These are just some of the many characteristics that an abusive relationship can have, if you have identified them in your routine, seek help, talk to someone you trust, look for ways to get stronger and put an end to a relationship that has these features is toxic.
Love is a vital ingredient, yes, but without mutual respect and trust the foundations of a relationship cannot be sustained.
Love cannot and should not be used as a justification for practicing or accepting abusive and degrading behavior.
Those who truly want to be well with their better half, are concerned about not hurting, know how to ask for forgiveness and exchange affection.
Trying to change the aggressor's behavior is a frequent misconception of the victim immersed in a hopeful fiction that one day – as a proof of love – he will transform.
Imperfections and setbacks in the relationship are part of the challenges of living together, not violence.
The reality of many families will only change through clarification; the more people are aware of this issue, the more the victims will be more likely to recognize that they are in fact victims and thus look for a way out.
If you've read this text and remembered someone close to you who might be going through this, talk to that person, offer support.
The Call Center for Women in Situations of Violence - Call 180
Author: Andreia Hollenstein
Clinical Psychologist & Psychoanalysis