To The Sun:

When we hear the phrase domestic violence our mind instantly congers up visions of fists, bruises and broken bones. Not name calling, shaming, withholding, manipulation, threatening and isolation tactics.

Physical abuse is what first, and maybe only, comes to mind. Yet, all too often, the abuse is much more insidious. It comes in the form of emotional or verbal assaults.

While the physical abuse is horrific, emotional and verbal abuse is more detrimental to a person’s overall well-being. While quite frequently there is actual visual proof of physical abuse, there is none for emotional and verbal abuse. The wounds and scars are being dealt to the psyche. To your self-esteem. To your self-confidence. To your self-worth.

Like all forms of abuse, the majority if not all emotional abuse occurs behind closed doors. And because the abuser acts very lovingly, even dotting on the victim in public, people tend to question rather the truth is being told when help is finally sought. This often traumatizes the victim further.

So my intent is to draw attention to all forms of abuse and offer hope. To encourage friends, family, co-workers, even acquaintances to offer help when someone you know and love begins acting in any fashion that’s not their usual. If they go from loving a good debate over politics to not engaging in a political conversation. From being outgoing to reserved. From being thin to gaining weight or being heavy to losing weight. Again, if they begin acting any way that’s not normal for them, this is your call to action. This is a sign for you to step up. Ask if everything is OK. Offer an ear. Or even a shoulder. You could make all the difference in someone’s life.

And for the person living with abuse of any kind, even if you feel helpless, hopeless, weak, unable to do anything about it, or feel like you somehow deserve it, know this ... you are stronger than you think.

There’s no shame in asking for help. None. You can get out of the situation. You can do it. There is help available. Here’s the telephone number for the Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233. — PAM JACQUINET, Parsons

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