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Why doesn’t society paint emotional abuse to be as intolerable and unacceptable as physical abuse?

I recently started recalling all the instances of friends and loved ones who had been in either physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships and I replayed the dynamics in my head. It seemed as though my three girlfriends who had been in physically violent love affairs were always encouraged by their family and friends (myself included) to leave immediately. We hurt with them and cried with them and begged them to leave because they deserved better and the sight of their suffering was painful.

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And then there were those who endured emotional abuse—from name calling in the heat of every argument, to possessive controlling, to serial cheating and making babies outside the relationship. While we did encourage them to escape, our sense of urgency just wasn’t the same. One time in particular, after I gave a long spill to my home girl about how she needed to just leave her man instead of complaining about his frequent creeps, she told me “Girl, your expectations are too high. Men will be men and as long as he’s not beating me, I’m good.” I didn’t get how she was “good” because she was always crying about yet another side piece, but the rest of our clique seemed to agree with her, as one said, “Well at least he pays the bills.” Though I strongly disagreed with the whole “men will be men” mentality, I surrendered my argument because I knew my point of view was part of a losing battle.

It was an all too familiar way of thinking, even though I didn’t realize it then. My other good friend’s mother would go through many days sorrowful because of the way her husband treated her. And when her daughter, my friend, grew up and went to her mother with her own relationship troubles, her mom often reminded her, “Men will be men. You just have to give them time. He’ll settle down one day.” The difference between what was acceptable regarding physical violence and emotional abuse was vast and still is.

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