Last week, The Herald released an article on the rising awareness of female abusers, in part due to the ongoing and extremely public conflict between actor Johnny Depp and ex-wife Amber Heard. The Herald will be releasing a series on women in abuse, to cover all perspectives and positions women take in abusive relationships.
Recognizing abusive behavior is the first step in addressing the problem. Abusive or manipulative language can take many forms; for example, if someone is showcasing self-deprecating behavior or language only to receive an affirmation such as: “I told you I was a bad person; you should have listened.” This statement is a clear example of someone searching for a positive correction – it’s a way to divert the conversation from the actual problem being addressed and make the opposing party feel guilty. Other forms of abusive language can include putting down one’s partner or even raising one’s voice. There is a fine line between a healthy disagreement and it becoming a potentially abusive situation. If it feels like the interaction is not healthy, then one has the right to address it with the other party. Clearly communicate with one another and create an open setting where neither person feels that they cannot come forward. If one party feels they cannot come forward without being attacked, then there are probably toxic characteristics present in the relationship.
DomesticShelters.org is a nonprofit organization that provides free online resources for domestic abuse victims. Abuse can come in the form of both physical and emotional abuse, and DomesticShelters offers a list of red flags to watch for abusive behavior. While these are flags to search for in your romantic relationships, recognizing that these flags can show up in your family and in your friendships is an important step in protecting yourself from abusers. Lack of compromise, guilt tripping, coercive or pressuring behavior and denial of behavior are only a few of the notable red flags that DomesticShelters reminds everyone to look out for. At an all-women's college, we must realize that our female friends can be abusers. Remembering to evaluate even the friendships you value for abusive behavior is incredibly important to protecting yourself from damaging relationships.
By Savi Swiggard, Associate Editor, and Ell Shelp-Peck, Staff Writer