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Domestic Violence, Physical, Mental, and Verbal Abuse and Eating Disorder Behavior

by Dr. Gina Scarano-Osika

Mary has been obese since the birth of her first child 25 years ago. She and her partner of 28 years illuminate the devastating effects that an abusive relationship can have on one's health. She admits that she married a very "selfish" man who asked her to abort the first child they conceived (against Mary's will). Mary passively agreed and 28 years later is still feeling the loss. She has always found it difficult to share parenting responsibilities with him and (despite being married) feels she has raised her five children as a "single" mother. Although she has a good-paying job, he controls the checking account and he distributes money for groceries, gas, and other miscellaneous expenses. Slowly, Mary's body deteriorated after more than a decade with diabetes. She is frequently hospitalized and sometimes she returns home more confused about her medical condition(s) than when she entered the hospital.

About a year ago, Mary's physician told her that she had to cancel her annual trip to Florida with her husband for fear that she would die in transit. Not only was Mary too scared to tell her husband that she needed to stay home, but she waited until two weeks into the trip to tell her husband that she was extremely ill and was advised to not make the trip. Two days later, her husband took her to the emergency room and the doctor again recommended that Mary be hospitalized. Her husband responded by saying, "Thanks for ruining my vacation again." All of this abuse and not one bruise or black eye to show for it. However, her emotional scars are everlasting.

Domestic violence deserves a book all to itself. It is worthy of mentioning here because it is relevant. It stands at the end of this chapter because it may be the end of the road after many failed attempts to accomplish the skills mentioned earlier. There are many ways that a partner can abuse you. Without ever touching you, they can control your money, demand sex, or make you do what they want when they threaten to take away your children. We now have a better understanding of the many ways in which a person can dominate a partner through power and control. Of all people, your partner should not call you "fat" or "stupid" or any repeatedly profane name. If you feel that there are certain needs you cannot request of your partner, you may be living in fear of your partner. If you are ridiculed every time you make a reasonable request, there is a good chance you are a victim of domestic abuse. If you are wrongfully blamed for things that go wrong and criticized for your efforts in the home, you may be a victim of emotional abuse. If you feel ignored, you may be neglected. If you feel you are obligated to have sex with your partner whenever he/she wants it, your partner is using power and control in the bedroom. If your partner makes you request money directly from him or her and needs proof of every penny that you spend, they may be using monetary methods of abuse. The days of seeing domestic violence as only resulting in visible marks or bruises are over.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven of "Friendly Mirrors and Contented Closets"
by Dr. Gina Scarano-Osika

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