Controlling behaviours, jealousy, yelling, bullying, threats: these are just some of the aspects of emotional abuse. You might think that if you’re not physically hurt, you’re not the victim of abuse. This is not necessarily true. Emotional abuse can be just as traumatic as physical violence and lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide.
As an illustrator I express myself through my art and in these illustrations I show how a victim might feel in the midst of emotional abuse. It's as though you become a psychological punching bag for someone else's problems, absorbing the impact of threats and trying to dodge verbal assaults that reduce your self-worth. Your mind becomes locked in self-defence; you are 'up in the clouds' – like the women in my illustrations – and no one can really get through to you.
Everyone has different reasons for staying with an abusive partner, from low self-worth and confidence, to fear of the abuser or the sometimes dangerous consequences of leaving. Women in abusive relationships face many barriers to leaving an abuser, including safety concerns, financial worries, legal questions, parenting responsibilities, lack of support from friends and family and worries about the future. Regardless of the reasons, we as a society must recognise how serious emotional abuse is and learn how to help survivors on their healing journey.
My wish is to spread awareness about the impact of emotional abuse so that more people can identify it and help others – or themselves – live lives free from violence. I hope my illustrations resonate with survivors, their friends and their family members, and make them think about issues they may have been sweeping under the rug.
If you are experiencing emotional abuse, please know that you are not alone and help is available. Emotional abuse is incredibly damaging and healing is an ongoing and difficult process – but it is possible.
Believe in yourself and love yourself. You deserve it.
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