My thoughts on a specific form of domestic violence.
A person doesn't have to have a black eye or broken bone to have been injured badly by a partner or other family member. Abuse can be verbal. Or it can be in the form of neglect, passive-aggression or manipulative behavior towards a spouse, partner, child or parent. The damage is often invisible, even though a spirit is being crushed and scarred.
Ignoring, shaming, name-calling, ridiculing, yelling, blaming, deliberately inducing guilt, threatening, or controlling by withholding money, necessities or affection are forms of abuse. These have nothing to do with gender, size or physical strength. Some people may not realize how damaging those things can be, while abusers may or may not even be aware of the grave nature of their actions. Afterwards, they may act as if nothing had happened at all. That can be bewildering, and the abused person may begin to question his or her own sanity for doubting this person they love and trust. Fear sets in, and then the abuser becomes angry about the fear, and a dangerous cycle continues. It may escalate to physical violence.
Everybody gets ticked off once in awhile and says something they don't really mean. If we don't, we're probably not human. Sincere apologies work wonders for those rare occasions. But when destructive patterns begin to develop, it's important to recognize them, whether in ourselves or in those around us.
Everyone needs to be aware of this insidious form of domestic violence. It's cruel and wrong to treat any human being that way. It deteriorates bonds of trust between loved-ones, and destroys families. Kids learn the life patterns they observe in their parents.
No person can actually make another person feel angry, frustrated, guilty, or sad. Another person's comment or action may trigger an emotion, but that person did not cause the abuser's destructive reaction to that emotion. Our reactions (such as anger, rage, violence, or withdrawal) are our own responsibility. That's a difficult concept to grasp. But without it, life becomes nothing but a series of reactions; nothing but emotional highs and lows, where true joy and sense of self is lost.
Although it requires introspection and practice, it's worth the effort for anyone to become a self-respecting person, capable of building loving, respectful relationships, and responsible for our own reactions to others. We all owe that to ourselves and to our spouses, children, aging parents, and anyone else with whom we share our lives.
Nobody can make another person happy. It can only be found in one's own heart, and then shared.