Why do I need to show you a picture of bruises on my body or a black eye to convince you that I am a victim of domestic violence/intimate partner abuse? If I could show you a picture of my broken spirit, I would show it to you, but the technology necessary to capture THAT doesn’t exist. Even if it did exist, would you be convinced that emotional abuse is just as damaging as a punch to the gut, a kick to the face, or a gun to my head?
Emotional abuse is often a predictor of physical abuse. Before the punches begin, the nasty words, name calling, and put downs come first. In many cases, however, the abuser prefers to stick with the emotional abuse. Why? Because it’s harder to prove (no physical proof) and the results are long-lasting (bruises go away; emotional turmoil grows deeper), and the abuser gets the thrill of seeing his victim suffer longer.
So, instead of physically harming his victims, the emotional abuser chooses to destroy things his victim holds dear: a favorite book gets burned (accidentally in that gorgeous fire burning in the fireplace he slaved to build for her), a favorite lamp gets smashed (because all she had to do was listen to him, dammit), and a favorite pair of earrings suddenly turns up missing (because she needs to be more careful where she leaves things).
But the most precious “thing” an abuser destroys is his victim’s spirit. Losing her spirit results in depression, lack of interest in things she once loved, loss of her job, loss of her friends, loss of her connection to family, and ultimately, loss of her desire to live. THIS is what emotional abuse does to her. Like bullying, emotional abuse of an intimate partner can lead to suicide or murder or both.
And when she does get away from her abuser (if she gets away from her abuser), her fears and insecurities will keep her from EVER sharing her story. But she NEEDS to tell her story, doesn’t she? The abuser’s next victim deserves the chance to know, doesn’t she? Besides, what is the abuser going to do if she does speak out? Come after her? Maybe. Sue her? Not likely. (Look what happened when a lawyer, yes, a lawyer, tried to sue his ex-girlfriends for letting the world know what a jerk he was: The Failed Matthew Couloute Lawsuit.)
Unfortunately, the victim will never talk about it. Instead, she’ll enter counseling, get prescribed some antidepressants, and everyone will tell her to get over it and move on. Future victims never receive her cautionary report (or at least we don’t get the report in time).
I received the following “report” (part of a larger e-mail) from one of the boy’s ex-girlfriends nearly 13 months AFTER I escaped him. In addition to my personal story, I pass along this small snippet for anyone currently dating the boy. Hopefully, this will serve to provide you with additional proof and validation that the boy is a piece of garbage not to be recycled for future use:
“I am sorry you were caught up with Ruben. I hope you didn’t get sucked in for too long and are able to rebuild your relationships. I make it a practice to not meet with Ruben, his family or correspond with any friends we had in common during my time with him. …I do not honestly want to waste any more of my life thinking or talking about him. I look at the that time in my life as a lesson learned. Because of that experience I will cherish even more the blessing in my life now and the ones to come.”
“I used to watch those mystery murder stories on TV where a psycho husband killed his wife for some senseless reason and used to think if I didn’t leave Ruben, I might end up that way.”
The most beautiful part of the failed Matthew Couloute lawsuit is that Matthew Couloute himself has made it VERY easy for all of us to avoid him through his simple arrogant act of filing a public lawsuit in the first place. Genius!!! (Keep THAT in mind, boy.)
Tell your story. Tell it anonymously if you must. But tell your story. We believe you and don’t need to be convinced that words hurt, too.