Naomi Barton, a digital merchandiser at a publishing company in Delhi, took to Twitter when describing an evening out with her parents. Her tweets are a commentary on the relationship her mother and father have, and the abusive things her father says. The thread shows how emotional abuse is normalised in families.
What follows is a play by play of the conversation between her mother and father.
The reason she is doing the thread, Barton says, is because “this kind of constantly unpredictable bouts of randomly violent rage is normal in my family”.
“The sheer overwhelming indifference to consequence, actual care of emotional impact, that’s just…Normalised,” she tweets.
After the so called outburst, Barton tweets that her parents went on to act like nothing has happened that is unusual, and that everything is normal.
She also goes on to say that her dad claims he is a feminist and speaks out against issues such as slut shaming and fat shaming. But his emotional abuse, she tweets sarcastically, is ‘a private family matter’.
Luckily, she has figured out a way to handle her emotions around the situation: She says she doesn’t engage in it and doesn’t let it affect her.
She speaks about how she lives with her aunts and uncles, and not with her parents whenever she is in Bombay, and about how her father’s behaviour has impacted her.
Barton received many tweets from other women who have been through similar situations. She tweets that she never expected so many to come out and talk about their experiences.
She even speaks about how she tried to explain to her father that the best reaction when seeing someone get stressed is to be empathic and calm, instead of screaming. “I talked about how his response did far more to upset, intimidate, oppress than her being stressed about her sister arriving on time.”
The conversation ends with her father saying, “Well I suppose I just have to be the bigger person then, just like always.”
She also dispels the common notion that abuse can only happen to someone who isn’t independent. “Abuse is indifferent,” she says.
Her tweets shed light on just how damaging and insidious emotional abuse can be. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse is harder to identify, and someone who is embroiled in an emotionally abusive relationship may find it difficult to see how abnormal it is.
Here are some signs of emotional abuse.
Arguments tend to escalate very quickly.
You feel like you have to walk on eggshells.
Your partner constantly puts you down.
They put unreasonable demands on you.
They are hypercritical, blame you for everything and make you question your sanity.
They isolate you.
If you feel like you are in this situation, do not hesitate to ask for help.