Content warning: relationship abuse, emotional and physical abuse
Abuse comes in many forms and the trending hashtag #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou has been raising awareness of emotional abuse within relationships, ultimately demonstrating that a person does not need to be physically assaulted in order to be abused.
Please note that abuse is still abuse regardless of its form. Emotional abuse is not greater than any other kind.
This conversation happening around #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou highlights that domestic violence isn't limited to physical assaults. Pay attention.
— we have nothing to lose but our chains (@katrinalrogers) May 2, 2016
Earlier in May, writer and artist Zahira Kelly went to Twitter with the hashtag #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou to share her experience, as well as the experiences of other women in her life, with emotional abuse.
“Abuse culture is something most women experience, and at higher rates for women of color like me. But we get very little support for it and are rarely equipped to suss it out.” Kelly told The Huffington Post.
#maybeHeDoesntHitYou but threw a huuuge raging weeks long miserable fit coz u cut your hair 'without his permission'.
— zahira kelly-cabrera (@bad_dominicana) May 2, 2016
Since then, over 55,000 tweets have used the hashtag, outlining the tweeter’s personal experiences with emotional abuse, with the most common perpetrators being partners, boyfriends or girlfriends.
“Abuse is often seen as very cut and dry, and only physical. For several years now on social media, on a daily basis I talk about many different forms of abuse and what they look like,” Kelly told BBC Trending.
There are many signs to an abusive relationship and many people have since used the hashtag to express that trying to control someone is a sign of abuse from the way they dress, to whom they speak and how they feel.
#maybehedoesnthityou but he tries to control who you talk to, where you go, what friends you can have, and acts like it's out of love.
— sailor mourn ⚰ (@detricotage) May 9, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he won't let you go home or see your friends very often or at all.
— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) May 9, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he manipulates you into thinking that you're ugly, worthless, stupid and undeserving of all the good things in life
— FEMINISM (@WeNeedFeminlsm) May 11, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he'll say passive aggressive remarks and label you as "the crazy one" when you react to what he says.
— deja (@dejajazmyn) May 8, 2016
The hashtag has revealed other ways in which abusers put down or threaten their victims – including threatening to kill themselves and telling their victim that no one will ever love them.
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he tells you he'll kill himself if you break up with him.
— Jenny Jaffe (@jennyjaffe) May 11, 2016
#maybehedoesnthityou but he manipulates you and threatens to commit suicide if you leave him.
— ⛓ (@KATHERINEALKA) May 10, 2016
#maybehedoesnthityou but he tells you sincerely that no one else could or will love you and you should be grateful.
— Christine No (@iamchristineno) May 11, 2016
#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou but he likes you insecure and breaks you down if you dare become confident.
— hellatrix lestrange (@sky0nce) May 9, 2016
This hashtag is reminiscent of the event nearly two years ago when TMZ released a video of Ray Rice abusing his now wife, Janay Rice and internet exploded with questions like: Why didn’t she leave? Why did she stay? This sparked writer Beverly Golden to start the hashtag #WhyIStayed to challenge victim-blaming in domestic violence situations.
“Leaving was a process, not an event. And sometimes it takes awhile to navigate through the process,” she states on her website.
I tried to leave the house once after an abusive episode, and he blocked me. He slept in front of the door that entire night. #WhyIStayed
— Bev (@bevtgooden) September 8, 2014
#whyistayed b/c he never hit me and I didn't think verbal abuse and emotional manipulation was considered an abusive relationship.
— Cathusiast (@cathusiast) September 9, 2014
Because he made me believe no one else would understand. #WhyIStayed
— Leslie Bowman (@leslielouz) September 9, 2014
As of this year, Australia is on the right path to addressing emotional and physical abuse. In April, the Australian Government released a chilling campaign “Stop It at the Start” to tackle domestic violence and change social behaviour and stigma towards the phrase “boys will be boys“.
The campaign follows the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures where one in three women over the age of 15 experience physical violence, and one in six has experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner. Also, according to Fact Check, one in six women and one in 20 men have experienced at least one incidence of violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15. While victims are predominantly female, males are not excluded.
“We absolutely need to raise awareness and change attitudes about domestic violence and gender equality but doing so without boosting funding to crisis services, which are currently having to turn women away, is dangerous,” Greens spokeswoman for women, Larissa Waters, said.
If you believe you are being abused and would like help, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline (13 11 14).