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Abuse verses Mean

I hear a lot of chatter about how emotional and mental abuse isn't really abuse.  When I first started talking about my experiences, I had people actually say to me that "he is just being mean spirited because you hurt him...he will get over it".  Or "how is that abuse, to me he just seems mean".  I realized people don't honestly know, or don't want to know, what mental and emotional abuse is.  What is the difference between abuse and someone being mean?

Abuse is the consistent and continual degradation of the persons character and spirit.  Abuse tears down the core of who the victim is.  The abuser will tear them down and mold them into what the abuser wants, not necessarily what is best for the victim.  Abuse is more than the occasional mean word or phrase.  It is a consistent barrage of insults and hurtful phrases that tear the very fabric of the person's soul.  The victim cannot pray, cry, or have hope.  The victim begins to see themselves as what the abuser says they are.  They start to believe the "truths" the abuser piles onto them.

Mean is an occasional insult or hurtful phrase.  Mean is cruel and it is hurtful, but it is usually a short duration and is, most often, followed by an apology or recompense of some type.  It is a quick hit of hurt followed by a concerted effort to make the hurt better or move on from it.  Mean is short lived and easily forgiven.  Mean is passing.  It doesn't leave scars and it doesn't leave a person devastated.

Abuse leaves scars.  Even though they cannot be seen by the human eye, they are there.  Abuse can leave a person bereft of everything they are and leave them emotionally naked and vulnerable.  It can even leave a person suicidal, as they desperately search for a way to get away from their abuser and, seeing no escape, just want to end the pain.  Abuse has a long-term effect on a person that may not manifest itself for years.

If a person is mean to another they can walk away with no further problems.  The victim of abuse cannot just walk away.  They are followed, hounded, and demeaned for daring to try to get away.  The are treated like they are the ones who are wrong for trying to move to a better place.

How do you tell the difference?  Some never can tell.  The victim knows...but most people don't believe the victim because the abuser is so charming or so "normal".  When you see news stories of a murder/suicide the neighbors almost always say "they were a normal couple" or " he was so nice, I never expected this".  The signs were there...but people do not always look deeper because of their own fear, their own sense of "do I really want to be involved", If you see something, say something. You could be saving the life of an abuse victim. You could give them the strength to break free and find themselves again. Sometimes all it takes is to know that someone else cares for them.

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I am striving to be the excellent person that I am and if I can help anyone out there be happier then I have accomplished my goal for the day.


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