Psychological expert Doan Thi Huong from the SHARE Center for Counseling – Psychotherapy, said: “If considering the cycle of violence, the first form is usually mental violence, then others. But there are also cases of emotional abuse only. That is the trap that makes it easy to be accepted. Because, according to the community's conception and even the law, physical injuries are more easily seen, and are easier to support and empathize with, and easier to be adjudicated."
She said that the consequence of emotional violence is that the victim feels pain, is humiliated, or is confused about their own value. They become afraid of doing things and, always pay attention to the perpetrator's attitude.
“In the end, the victim becomes weaker, with no resistance or effort to take care of or help herself,” Huong said.
Emotional abuse not only has individual consequences, but also negatively affects the psychology of other family members.
Huong added that the nature of hurting others is not an economic issue or alcohol addiction. It is a violation of human rights and acts of violence against women based on gender inequality.
“Many people still think that it's normal for couples to scold each other in the family. We ourselves are normalizing, nurturing and tolerating emotional abuse," Huong said.
Stop blaming the victim
Among solutions, Huong said that changing awareness is a prerequisite. “We can spread information about mental violence on the media, in women’s products, or through other community activities. However, in my opinion, a radical solution is to educate every citizen from an early age about mental abuse. Children can be taught in schools that no one has the right to hurt others mentally or physically,” she said.
“When children are taught the value of respect, human rights, and children's rights, they naturally become sensitive and recognize violence earlier. They will recognize and speak up as soon as they are treated unfairly and insulted,” Huong added.
In addition, when it comes to emotional abuse, there is an existing problem: the "culture" of blaming the victim. Because of the blame, the victims become alone in resisting the violence.
“Raising public awareness includes the correct understanding of violence, which means that there is no justification for violence of any type. And when victims share their experience of violence, they don't deserve to be blamed, they need to be heard and respected, thereby fostering strength within them to break the silence," Huong said.
In addition, psychologists also encourage models and services to give psychological assistance to perpetrators of violence. We do not tolerate violent behavior towards others, but the abuser also needs to be supported so that they can change their behavior, so that they can deal with their inner problems in safer, healthier ways, instead of "discharging" their feelings to others.
According to Article 51, Decree No. 167/2013/ND-CP, acts of criticizing, insulting the honor and dignity of family members are subject to administrative fine ranging from VND500,000 to VND1,500,000, and at the same time a public apology at the victim’s request.
According to Article 185 of the Penal Code, anyone who treats badly or commits violent acts infringing the body of their grandparents, parents, spouses, children, grandchildren or people who have merit to raise them are subject to warnings and non-custodial reform for up to three years, or imprisonment from six months to three years.
According to amended and supplemented Article 140 of the Penal Code 2015, the crime of ill-treatment: if one commits acts of humiliating his/her dependents who do not belong to the cases specified in Article 185 of this Code, they shall be served a warning, non-custodial reform for up to 3 years or imprisonment from 3 months to 2 years. In case he/she causes mental and behavioral disorders to the victim with an injury rate of 31% or more, the prison term is from 1 year to 3 years.
“Although there are provisions of the law to sanction acts considered as domestic violence, the handling of these acts in practice still faces many difficulties, especially in cases where the acts are not clear, or the victims and the witnesses do not dare to denounce such behavior."
In February 2020, the Prime Minister issued Directive No. 08/CT-TTg 2020 on the promotion of domestic violence prevention and control, under which regulations handling domestic violence will be strengthened to enhance legal education for domestic violence perpetrators.
Lawyer Pham Thi Bich Hao, Duc An Law Firm, Hanoi Bar Association
* The names of the characters and some details have been changed to protect the identity of the victims.
Like many other nights, Quang cursed his wife and children when Hue, his wife, asked for money to buy food.