Emotional abuse is still abuse

THE abuse of Khethiwe by Dumisani in SABC1's Generations has sparked a national discussion about a form of abuse that is not usually talked about - emotional abuse.

THE abuse of Khethiwe by Dumisani in SABC1's Generations has sparked a national discussion about a form of abuse that is not usually talked about - emotional abuse.

The sad thing about Khethiwe's case, as in many other cases in South Africa, is that most women in abusive relationships are in denial about it.

It is estimated that as many as one in every four women in the country is emotionally abused by her partner or husband yet they blame themselves.

According to psychologist Asiphe Ndlela emotional abuse, like any other form of abuse, can leave deep and lasting scars.

Ndlela says emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming and shaming.

She warns that psychological abuse by an intimate partner can be as dangerous as sexual or physical abuse in terms of putting victims at risk of long-term physical and mental health problems.

"Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse also often throw in threats of physical violence," Ndlela says.

She says the aim of emotional or psychological abuse is to chip away the feelings of self-worth and independence from the abused.

Ndlela says most victims of emotional abuse feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without their abusive partner they have nothing.

"Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love," Ndlela says.

According to www.thisiswar.com if your partner exhibits one or more of the following signs it is definitely time to re-evaluate your relationship and seek help or get out.

lJealousy and possessiveness Becomes jealous over your family, friends or co-workers. Tries to isolate you. Views his woman and children as his property instead of as unique individuals.

Accuses you of cheating or flirting with other men without cause. Always asks where you've been and with whom in an accusatory manner.


He is overly demanding of your time and must be the centre of your attention. He controls finances, the car and the activities you take part in. Becomes angry if you begin showing signs of independence or strength.

l Superiority

He is always right, has to win or be in charge. He always justifies his actions so he can be "right" by blaming you or others.

A verbally abusive man will talk down to you or call you names in order to make himself feel better. The goal of an abusive man is to make you feel weak so he can feel powerful. Abusers are frequently insecure and this power makes them feel better about themselves.


Tells you you're crazy or stupid so the blame is turned on you. Tries to make you think that it's your fault that he is abusive. Says he can't help being abusive so you feel sorry for him and you keep trying to "help" him. Tells others you are unstable.

lMood Swings

His mood switches from aggressive and abusive to apologetic and loving after the abuse has occurred.

l Actions don't match words

He breaks promises, says he loves you and then abuses you.

lPunishes you

An emotionally abusive man might withhold sex, emotional intimacy or play the "silent game" as punishment when he does not get his way. He verbally abuses you by frequently criticising you.

lUnwilling to seek help

An abusive man does not think there is anything wrong with him, so why should he seek help? Does not acknowledge his faults or blames it on his childhood or outside circumstances.

l Disrespects women

Shows no respect towards his mother, sisters or any women in his life. Thinks women are stupid and worthless.

l Has a history of abusing women and-or animals or was abused himself

Batterers repeat the patterns they are caught up in and seek out women who are submissive and can be controlled.

Abusive behaviour can be a generational dysfunction and abused men have a great chance of becoming abusers. Men who abuse animals are much more likely to abuse women also.