This is also referred to as Emotional Abuse. According to Wikipedia, it is described as “a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another person to behavior that my result in psychological trauma including anxiety, chronic depression, or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Such abuse is often associated with situations of power imbalance like abusive relationships, bullying and workplace abuse”.
This abuse is usually done verbally and the effect on the victim is hardly noticeable until it is fully advanced. We tend to pay more attention to physical abuse because it is visible and the discomfort prompts us to act immediately. But very few of us take people who are being emotionally abused seriously, especially here in Nigeria. No form of abuse is more severe than the other, but emotional abuse has a way of ‘eating’ deep into the victims’ life that often times it is noticed when the damage is far gone.
Human beings are an embodiment of emotions & our emotions are at the very core of our well being; that is why they bruise easily. Emotional abuse can come in subtle forms like jealousy, obsession, verbal aggression, bullying, intimidation, name calling, etc. The abuse is usually from someone very close and that is why the effect is often very deep. If a total stranger insults you, the likelihood that it will affect you deeply is low, you may feel hurt for that moment but it will quickly pass. On the other hand, if someone close does the same; it will hurt badly & if done repeatedly, will gradually affect your self esteem negatively and that will ultimately lead to a state of depression.
The Nigerian culture is not an ‘emotional culture’; we are very ‘practical’ in nature. It is the reason we often times don’t believe in counseling, coaching or therapy. We believe that emotional issues are not that deep and can be wished away. If you are physically hurt, it’s okay to visit a Doctor for treatment; but when emotionally hurt, you are expected to ‘suck it up’ or pray it away. It doesn’t work that way! People who are emotionally ill also need Doctors and should be taken seriously. We shouldn’t stigmatize those who are brave to seek this professional help when needed. Emotional abuse unattended to, can lead to serious health challenges. Just because we can’t see ‘it’, doesn’t mean ‘it’ doesn’t exist.
Many people walk the streets daily looking healthy but completely broken inside. They sometimes cry out for help but we are too busy looking out for the physical bruise that we miss the damage done on the inside. Emotional health can kill and sadly it is often unawares. We need to be more sensitive in the way we treat each other. It is not cool to use derogatory words on other people or seek to control their lives. Just live, and let live