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#MaybeHeDoesntHitYou: A Powerful Reminder About Emotional Abuse

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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).