The definition of abuse has been a somewhat controversial topic for about as long as the conversation has been happening—probably because there are a lot of definitions for a term that is incredibly broad. There are many different ways in which someone can be abused in a family, relationship, or otherwise.
Recently, in a movement started on Twitter by sexual equality activist Zahira Kelly, women have begun redefining how we talk about abuse by sharing their stories about the damage caused by emotional and mental abuse. If you’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship, you know exactly what the people using the hashtag #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou are talking about.
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou— antonio (@antoniodelotero) May 9, 2016
this is a very necessary hashtag, and it spreads an important message out abuse in relationships among all genders.
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he will show up to your home in the middle of the night to check and see if you're there.— Devil's Right Hand (@beelze_bubb) September 3, 2017
#maybehedoesnthityou but he constantly criticizes your clothes, your makeup, your body, instructs you to work out and be more 'feminine.'— Laurie Penny (@PennyRed) May 11, 2016
You’ve never been hit physically by your partner, but you go out to see your friends and a screaming session ensues the moment that you get home. Trips you take to the store are met with constant questions as to whether or not you’re meeting up with somebody, his endless text messages blowing up your phone. Your group of friends begins to rapidly disappear as he becomes the sole captain of your life, controlling your every action and becoming your own personal puppetmaster.
Or maybe the abuse comes in the opposite form. Maybe she tortures you for giving her attention, making you beg for her time instead of simply loving you equally. Instead, you are made out to be the wild one, and her physiological grip on your mind becomes a running joke among her friends as you are made out to be “just another crazy girlfriend”.
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he manipulates you into thinking that you're ugly, worthless, stupid and undeserving of all the good things in life— Feminism (@WeNeedFeminlsm) May 11, 2016
You keep trying to leave, but the moment that you set your foot out the door, they wave their fingers out and offer you familiarity, comfort, and safety. They tell you that they’re sorry. They back off. They pull you closer. You think you’re falling back in love with them, but you’re really just falling back into their trap, deeper and deeper, again and again.
Before you know it, you’re being abused, mentally and emotionally.
The problem is, so many people refuse to take abuse like that seriously, claiming that your partner is simply overprotective or really cares about you. However, there is a fine line between being overly caring and being power-hungry, which is the line that emotional and mental abusers tend to dance upon.
The whole intention of the #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou movement is to shed light on the idea that every kind of abuse should be discouraged, recognized, and understood to be just as harmful as physical abuse. Your mind should not be made into a playground for anyone besides you, and being tormented inside of your own head is often just as bad as being subjected to the abuse of the outside world. Emotional abuse does not make you weak. It does not make you hypersensitive or immature. It makes you a real human being, with feelings that do not deserve to be infringed upon.
So the next time you tell yourself that everything is okay because at least he doesn’t hit you, take a step back and ask yourself: is a physical scar really the worst mark that a human can leave?