Domestic Violence is more than just physical and threats can be more than just physical as well.
Domestic violence is about controlling the other person and the means in which someone does that are vast and disturbing.
An abuser can threaten to harm you, yes, but they can also threaten many other things. They can threaten to leave you. Threaten to leave you and take the kids. They can threaten to report you to DCF/welfare/child services – and you know they are going to lie about you and make things up.
They can convince you to do things you didn’t want to do – illegal things, immoral things, or things like I experienced – quitting my job even though I was the only person making money. They are so manipulative and so conniving, you may not even realize it’s happening at the time.
Although I did not live through most of the those particular threats, the one that I most experienced was this one. “If you leave me, I will kill myself.“
Said with tears, desperation, and conviction. Said to create the ultimate guilt and responsibility on my part, not his. Said to control and manipulate me. “How can I live without you? I need you. You are the only thing I have to live for. It would be better if I didn’t exist if not with you.“
To someone like me – who cares way too much sometimes, and who did at one point love him, this was the ultimate threat. I knew that he had mental illness. I knew that he needed help. And wasn’t I the one to help him, his wife? How would I be able to live with myself if I caused his suicide?
Once, in the middle of an argument, he left and called me saying he was walking down the middle of the road with his back to any oncoming traffic hoping to die. When I did eventually leave him, he took all of his medication at once and called and left me a voicemail letting me know about it. He also told his family and went to get his stomach pumped.
I learned later that this isn’t really about suicide. It’s called suicidal gestures and they are made to control, coerce, and create guilt in the victim of domestic violence. It’s a really disgusting, disturbing way to control the partner who has a heart, who cares, who takes on too much responsibility. It’s a way to keep you from leaving, to blame you for their problems, to keep you from even talking about ending the relationship again.
Threats come in many shapes and forms and don’t always involve physical violence to the victim. If they are said to hurt you, control you, manipulate, make you feel guilty, create fear, or convince you to do something you don’t want to do – it is domestic violence. And you don’t deserve it.
Help is available, start here:
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Respect – the National Dating Abuse Helpline
Text “loveis” to 22522
Live chat at www.loveisrespect.org