I really want to bring to your attention Dr. Steven Stosny’s excellent blog post on when emotional abuse is more likely to become physical violence.
He opens with this great definition.
Emotional abuse is deliberately making partners afraid or feel bad about themselves. It’s usually instrumental, to punish or coerce partners into doing something the abusers want or not doing something they don’t want.
If you’ve ever threatened divorce to get your husband to stop going out drinking with friends or belittled your wife to talk her out of some plan you expect will fail or pointed out your spouse’s weight gain in hopes of provoking healthier behavior, you (and I) are guilty of emotional abuse. But here, we are talking about chronic emotional abuse, daily threats, and constant belittling or insults. Stosny continues.
In terms of power, physical abuse constitutes a failure of emotional abuse. Effective abusers never have to be violent to exert power; the coercive and punishing force of emotional abuse is sufficient to get what they want.
Stosny says, “All violent relationships are emotionally abusive, but most emotionally abusive relationships never become violent.” Then he lists what things increase the risk of violence.
If you are on the receiving end of emotional abuse or if you notice yourself increasingly using this tactic to get your way, you will want to read this list of factors that can push it over the line. And you will also want to take his Safety First advice at the end of the article. Anyone using emotional abuse frequently poses a danger to both of you and to your relationship. Take charge. Get help. There is nothing loving or good about tolerating emotional or physical abuse, even from someone who loves you. If it’s happening, you both need help and new skills.
If you asking yourself how you can Assume Love and follow this advice, please read my blog post, The Secret to Stopping a Violent Spouse.
And I will add this note again: any attempt to strangle or choke a female partner increases her odds of attempted homicide six-fold and successful homicide seven-fold. Please do not accept any promise after a choking attempt unless it comes backed by a qualified professional who has been treating your partner for long enough to render such a judgement.