Technology and Abuse

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Words are powerful. Our thoughts become our words. Thoughts are energy, and in turn our words are energy. Words have the power to comfort, console and express love. Words also have the power to hurt, emotionally scar, destroy peace of mind and self-esteem.
In this age of technology, computers, facebook, twitter, cell phones and texting, we have the ability to convey our thoughts instantaneously. We have the power to communicate with another person 24 hours a day, telling them our every thought as we have them.
If you have never been on the receiving end of non-stop, abusive text messages, voice mails and phone calls, I ensure you that you can not even begin to imagine what this feels like. If this communication is the result of a break up from your significant other, a separation, or a divorce, and especially if there are children involved, you become enslaved by your cell phone.
The mere frequency of this contact throws you off balance. You can't focus on your daily activities, or concentrate at work due to the constant interruptions. You feel overwhelmed and your stress heightens to a level that is palpable to the people around you. At some point you decide to stop answering the phone calls for your own sanity, but the voice mail box fills and your phone reaches text message capacity. The amount of time you spend reading and thinking about these texts is unbelievable. Mentally you beat yourself up for wasting your time and giving into a form of abuse that keeps you from accomplishing more important things. And yet, the insults anger you, the threats scare you, and the horrible lies leave you feeling both worthless and hopeless.
When you receive texts that are in all capital letters, you feel as if you are being yelled at. The tone of the text is shear anger, filled with finger pointing and blame. The texts can go on and on for endless pages; going back and forth between love and hate, praise and insults. Sometimes a text hits a nerve, or is so filled with false accusations that you find yourself replying, compelled to retaliate and defend. Sprinkled throughout, are texts from your children, saying horrible things to you, and about you. In his desperation, he sends you heartbreaking texts, saying it's from the kids. You can't stop thinking about these texts. You agonize over the wording, trying to figure out what is really from your children and what is from him. It is so confusing and hard to decipher that it keeps you on an emotional roller coaster.
Your cell phone was once a tool to ensure your security, it gave you a sense of comfort and peace of mind. If you got a flat tire on your way to work, you could call triple A. If there was a family emergency, you could be reached at all times. If you needed to reach out to a friend for support, your cell phone was there for you to do that. If the children's school or doctor called, or if your child needed you, you wouldn't miss that call.
You still need your cell phone for all of those things, and now given your circumstances, you need it even moreā€¦receiving an important call from your lawyer or making a much needed call to the domestic abuse hotline. And if your spouse is alienating you and not letting you see your children, your cell phone is your one and only life line. Your phone has become your best friend and your worst enemy. You need your phone, but it has become a device that controls and manipulates you, a source of harassment and continued abuse. Ultimately you feel trapped and powerless.
You spend so much time repeating, "I don't know what to do!", that it becomes your mantra. All you want to do is make it stop. You start saving the text messages for court in hopes of putting a stop to the abuse, but that's all you can do. You feel so alone because no matter where you turn for help, you find no relief and the madness continues. All of this, I can only assume, is his desperate attempt to stay in contact. He foolishly thinks that what he is doing is working, and will ultimately produce the results he wants, but all it does is push you further away.
People around you do not understand. They say, get a new phone, change your phone number (by the way, I've done that twice, and somehow he got my new number anyway) shut your phone off, block his number, don't read the texts, don't respond. The advice is logical and obviously simple, but you can't heed it because your fear prevents you. What if something happens to my children and they need me? What if a loved one needs me or a family member dies? Not to mention that some of the texts you receive are just frightening. Your curiosity keeps you reading them. You feel it's safer to monitor his mental state. You are controlled; controlled by your fear.
Times have changed. When you go to a movie the announcement during the previews used to be "No Smoking." Now the announcement is, "Please be courteous and shut off your cell phones." "Don't text and drive." has become as common a slogan as, "Don't drink and drive." Liquor distributors also preach "Drink responsibly" in their advertising campaigns. I think that this message is just as important as the preceding, "Text Responsibly." It is rude to talk on your phone during a movie, be courteous. It is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous to text and drive, as it is to drink and driveā€¦both cost people their lives. It is also harassment and abuse to text a person relentlessly, to bombard them with your every thought, to text threats, insults, and blame.
The redness from a slap on the face fades, a cut from a physical fight heals, and the bruising and swelling from a black eye eventually goes away. Physical violence is damaging, horrific, inexcusable and heart breaking. Physical abuse also leaves it's victims with lasting mental anguish, but is much easier to prove and acquire a restraining order against.
But violence comes in many forms, verbal, mental and emotional, which can be just as devastating. The scars left from this kind of abuse are the scars you can't see. They do not have the benefit of the bodies natural ability to heal these wounds, without effort from us, as bodies were designed to do. Emotional and mental scars take so much longer to heal and unfortunately, sometimes they never do and stay with a person forever.

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