Abuse education needs improvement

Dear Bailey,

In middle school and high school, students are taught about abuse in health classes. The classes usually seemed to make it sound like one would know without a doubt that they were being abused. But is this enough information for students when they get out of school?


I don’t think it is. What about emotional abuse? I personally don’t remember hearing much about it in school. To discover if I was in an unhealthy relationship, I did some research. What I found had been happening but went almost unnoticed. The things people say and do that are considered emotional abuse happen slowly and start out small.

Of course I knew it was possible, but I had always envisioned it as not so subtle, and I would know when my partner was being abusive and be able to do something about it. Health class made it sound much easier than it is.

Some people feel that emotional abuse is not as bad as physical abuse. Whether it is or is not isn’t as important as the fact that it is still abuse. Unlike physical abuse, there are no easy signs, such as bruises that can be photographed and documented. Emotional abuse is internal. Its effects can manifest physically, like weight loss, but they can also be within the person’s personality or mental health. Becoming depressed, withdrawing from friends or change in self-esteem are common for people being abused.

Emotional abuse is an attempt to gain control over another person or to feel powerful, just like any other form of abuse. It is verbal but it can also be financial control or jealousy.

When the abuser takes control over someone else’s money, it is a way for them to control what the other person is able to do and to prevent them from being financially stable enough to leave.

Jealousy is a way for them to make their partner feel guilty for hanging out with friends or going places without them. It gives the abuser the image of the victim and the abused the image of the careless partner.

There are lists of abusive tendencies online at different organizations’ websites. Above most lists is a statement saying that if you answer “yes” to anything listed, you might be in an unhealthy relationship. The lists include things, such as your partner threatens you, your family, or your pets, and your partner puts you down or constantly wants to know where you are and who you’re with.

Henderson House is McMinnville’s abuse center. The organization’s website has a list, and the building is not located far from campus. It is a good outside resource for students.

Many of the signs listed on these websites are what someone would know as abuse, but the problem, and the area I think education in school needs to improve on, is how hard it can be to spot, how slow it can happen and how easy it is to excuse someone you care about.

This type of abuse may not happen right away or quickly. By starting out small, the abuser is able to get away with more as time goes on. Familiarize yourself with the signs, and take time to evaluate your relationships.

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