Sex and Sensibility; V-Day- A bad romance

Column Jennifer Constable pic

By Jennifer Constable, Web Editor


The arrival of February splits the student populous firmly into two opposing camps; it’s the time of year where restaurants bump up their prices, Pandora releases a new range of overpriced, predictably tacky rings, and Instagram becomes saturated with abundant hash tags of #TheBoyDoneGood from countless #LuckyGirls up and down the country. Yes, dear readers, I am talking about the much-awaited (or dreaded) Valentine’s Day: a day devoted entirely to the celebration of sex, love, and of course, 70% of Clinton’s profit intakes.

However, whether you’re a hopeless romantic and devout V-day enthusiast, or you’re planning on spending it alone with a bottle of vodka and renting out ‘The Notebook’ for the evening, Valentines Day gives us a chance to reflect on our relationships, or indeed, what we want from one. Which brings me to the less glittery and more sobering topic of this month’s column: abusive relationships, specifically psychologically abusive ones.

The subject of emotional abuse in relationships is a difficult one to approach and an even more awkward one to voice concerns over, which is largely down to how hard they are to spot and hold the offenders accountable for. While the evidence of physical abuse is harder to conceal to the outside world, psychological abuse can be kept hidden between a couple, a dark secret that only grows in power the longer it’s bottled up.

The elephant in the room of relationship problems, the specificities of psychological abuse is a grey area. What actually counts as emotional abuse? There’s a line between being insecure, and being unhealthily invasive. For example, there’s a big difference between innocently Facebook stalking your bae’s exes (yes, we all do it), and demanding they hand over their social media passwords or, god forbid, hacking their accounts to monitor what they’re doing.

Emotional abuse can’t be reduced to one form. There’s a grim spectrum, ranging from snide comments about your appearance (“do you really think you should be wearing that?), to the more serious assaults, like enforcing nightly phone inspections, unprovoked anger, or hiding your car keys to stop you leaving.

The bruises from a physically violent partnership may be more visible but the scars from emotional torment run deep and, more often than not, unseen. It’s not a question of which assault is worse, or what claim is more valid, abuse is abuse; it’s vindictive, manipulative, and poisonous. If your partner leaves you feeling like they’re doing you a favour by being with you; if they have you questioning your worth and doubting your value; if you’re scared of them, but can’t quite pinpoint why, it’s time to get out.

Love and mutual respect are central in any healthy relationship; much like the cheap, heart-shaped Valentine’s chocolates, the warm glow you receive from an abusive partnership is artificial, short lasting and will leave you with a bitter taste and twisted stomach. You’d be much better off spending Valentine’s Day alone with a takeaway and Ryan Gosling’s pixelated face, than with someone who makes you feel that you’re anything less than perfect.