Violence is a concept that shows the aggressive action of an individual against another person. It is a word that is known literally by everyone in varying degrees of understanding. But, the concept of psychological violence isn’t so familiar, even though it has been proven that every individual has either experienced or will experience a form of psychological violence in a lifetime. It is saddening that it can remain unidentifiable to both the perpetrator and the victim, making it difficult to stop.
Psychological violence effects are more severe and deeply rooted than physical violence because it goes beyond physical hurt to affecting the victim’s psychological reasoning. In contrast with physical violence, children who are victims of psychological violence experience a longer-term effects, especially on their psychological well-being, and they grow up having low self-esteem, paranoia, compulsive-aggressive behaviors, etc.
To a casual observer, it is difficult to identify a relationship with an element of psychological violence; therefore, it is crucial to have a public awareness so that victims of psychological violence can identify that they’re being abused.
It would surprise you to know that psychological violence is more damaging than physical violence because of its continuity. Therefore, it is essential that beyond the understanding of physical violence, one should also know the definition, forms, and signs of psychological violence. Hence, children and adults need to be educated on psychological violence to reduce its occurrence.
What is psychological violence?
Psychological violence can be defined in several ways. However, I’d say the most accurate definition would be one that covers both its action and effect.
According to Wikipedia, psychological abuse, often called emotional abuse, is abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another person to behavior that may cause psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Psychological violence can be in the form of threats, insults, curses, etc. It harms the brain and mind, causing emotional and mental abuse. It also makes the victim constantly feel worthless, unloved, intimidated and scared to act naturally.
Psychological violence vs. Physical violence
Psychological violence differs from physical violence in many ways. Still, the primary distinction lies in the fact that psychological violence affects the victim’s psychological well-being while physical violence affects the victim’s physical well-being.
Psychological violence has an adverse effect on one’s mental health. Remember, it mustn’t be physical violence for it to hurt.
Physical and psychological violence have almost the same effect, with the difference being that one hurts physically while the other hurts emotionally.
Psychological violence often leads to physical violence; it can also affect someone more than physical violence.
Statistics show that the rate of emotional abuse might average around 80%, with 40% of women and 32% of men reporting expressive aggression (i.e., verbal abuse or emotional violence in response to some agitating circumstances) and 41% of women and 43% of men reporting a coercive control.
These statistics show that an estimated average of women is more likely to resort to psychological violence than men. However, men are likely to show more coercive behavior than women.
N.B: This is not in any way an attempt to undermine the effects of physical violence but to point to the danger that ALSO lies in psychological violence, emphasizing the lasting trauma that results from psychological violence, the unidentifiable factor of psychological violence, and the need for evaluation.
No crime is more dangerous than one that isn’t identifiable or has no provision in a country’s constitution.
People Prone to Psychological Violence
To be honest, EVERYONE!
People that tend to abuse others Psychologically
- Those dealing with anger issues.
- Bipolar patients.
- People dealing with insecurities.
- Toxic people.
- People dealing with depression.
- People who are stressed.
- Manipulative people.
Places Where People Experience Psychological Violence
- Home: There have been cases of people being psychologically abused even in their homes.
- School: Psychological violence is experienced in school in the form of bullying, mocking, teasing, mimicking, and so on. One’s fellow students, lecturers, and others that make up the school can do this.
- Workplace: A person can also experience psychological violence in his or her workplace from the boss or a co-worker.
Causes of Psychological Violence
- Anger: Anger can bring out psychological violence because when angry, one is likely to say hurtful words.
2. Insecurity: People use their insecurities to make others look bad. It is from a place of insecurity that derogatory words are spoken to people. Intimidation and bashing can be the attitude of an insecure person. This often occurs in romantic relationships and can result in dating abuse.
3. Depression: Depression can turn people into who they are not. When depressed, your attitude or disposition towards people could be hostile. In that depressed state, you can see yourself psychologically abusing someone: you become intolerant, easily aggravated, and frustrated.
4. Stress: Stress is another factor. Sometimes getting wearied from the day’s activities can cause a transfer of aggression; this is when you put your aggression on something or someone who isn’t the cause. When you’re stressed, it’s best to refrain from prolonged conversations. Also, try to walk away from any situation that could aggravate you.
5. Hatred: Hatred is a negative emotion that can lead to psychological violence. When there is no love for the other person, toxic behavior is bound to spring up.
Hatred is a powerful emotion, and I could go on about how this shouldn’t be a lifestyle habit. But the bottom line is we cannot all agree with everyone on certain value systems or perspectives, which shouldn’t result in hatred.
6. Jealousy: Jealousy (on the extreme side) is also a cause of psychological violence. And it is sadly common in the world today; it is also one of the characteristics of people with low self-esteem.
Rather than get jealous, it’s healthier and more ideal to be challenged or perhaps motivated.
Signs of Psychological violence
The signs of psychological violence are listed below but not limited to them;
- Belittling or humiliating you in private and public.
- They forbid you to leave the house by taking away the car keys or locking you up.
- They do things to scare or intimidate you on purpose, for example, yelling and smashing things.
- Threatening to hurt you physically and emotionally.
- Threatening to hurt or kill someone you care about.
- Name-calling, like idiot, stupid.
- Blaming you.
- Shutting you out.
- Manipulating you.
- They are coercive and patronizing.
Effects of Psychological Violence
Sometimes, people cannot recognize and speak up against psychological abuse, making it more dangerous and damaging. The effects of psychological violence run for a long time compared to the effects of physical violence. Also, victims of psychological violence often suffer in silence because there is little to no help. Other effects include.
- Social withdrawal
Victims of psychological violence often exhibit social withdrawal symptoms, such as isolation, shyness, and social fear. It is a term used to describe a situation in which an individual willingly refuses to engage in social activities or interactions either with family, friends, or strangers. Most victims choose to withdraw as a way to cope with what they’re going through. They retreat into themselves to protect their mental well-being and prevent the occurrence of another psychologically violent relationship.
This can be misunderstood as a snobbish attitude to others. Often, especially in a school setting, socially awkward individuals are targets for bullies, resulting in a ruthless cycle of abuse to the victim.
It is also saddening that this personal defense mechanism for the victims leads to more harm than good, as it also prevents them from reaching out for help.
- Sleep disorders
Sleep disorders such as insomnia, nightmares, and fear of sleeping can result from psychological violence. Victims are often plagued with fear of reoccurrence even when they sleep.
Paranoia is defined as an irrational fear or distrust of others that is unfounded and based on physical or emotional trauma. The traumatic experience leads to developing a paranoid thinking process, where anyone and everyone can become an enemy. It could be a particular gender, a person having similar physical characteristics to the aggressor, etc.
Paranoia can ultimately lead to delusions, hallucinations, and panic attacks when the victim/patient feels threatened. It is an instinct that develops from traumatic experiences.
Self-harm, also referred to as non-suicidal self-injury, is a harmful act of dealing with emotional distress where the individual causes intentional harm to themselves. Although self-harm is initially without an intention of suicide, about 40-60% of suicide cases result from self-harm.
A self-harm patient can either harm themselves with sharp objects, punch themselves, slam themselves against hard objects, etc.
Although self-harm gives a sense of emotional release, it is usually short-lived and ends with an increased feeling of guilt and comeback of the emotions the patient is trying to run from.
Self-harm can leave lasting damage both physically and psychologically to the patient if there is no professional help.
Most victims of psychological violence end up becoming depressed. This is because the aggressor’s goal is to make the other person feel worthless and question their rationality as a way to feel higher than the victim. Sadly, it works 90% of the time.
Victims of psychological violence end up feeling worthless, unloved, and intimidated, which makes them question their self-worth.
In extreme cases, depression often leads to suicide.
Prevention/control of Psychological Violence
This is a question that speaks a lot of how far we’ve become less empathetic toward each other. And this points to trying our best to reduce the prevalence of violence in our communities.
Psychological violence prevention lies in the understanding of its forms and effects. For example, if we accept and understand that being coercive, intimidating, manipulative, and intolerant to our neighbors can result in the abuse of their emotions, we would be a step closer.
Another way of preventing psychological violence is to create public awareness directed at identifying the signs and effects of psychological violence. This will enable the victims to speak out, and a campaign can be organized to create an avenue where perpetrators can be punished.
Understanding the entire context of psychological violence will help prevent more victims and help them understand it isn’t their fault. Neither is it right to be treated that way. Unfortunately, victims of psychological violence, especially dating abuse, often feel this way.
So, it is best to educate yourself and others around you to collectively recognize and combat the prevalence of psychological violence in our communities. You need to also speak up against it when it occurs in your domestic, personal, and economic environment.
READ ALSO: 6 NATURAL WAYS TO DEAL WITH ANXIETY