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How a Case of Verbal Abuse Looks Like

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Esmael Darman

MD, MS Clinical & Counseling Psychology

Following is a case vignette briefly explaining how verbal abuse in an Afghan family can look like:

Karima is a 25 year old Afghan woman who got married in Afghanistan and then came with her husband to the United States last year.

The first few days were spent getting introduced to the new family and in-laws with the excitement of visiting new cities and towns during the vacation. After a few months, however, Karima was faced with some disagreement in the family. She started feeling nervous when meeting her in-laws, particularly her mother-in-law. She had increased heartbeat, tension in muscles, and could easily become worn-out.

At the beginning, she did not take it seriously, thinking that her feeling would go away after some time, but in contrast she started feeling increasingly restless and she could not control it. She believed that her mother-in-law was interfering in her life, so she shared the concern with her husband, who shrugged it off and said it was not worrisome.

She would get criticized for being “clumsy” and “inexperienced” at whatever she was doing as a housewife. There were direct or indirect criticisms about her cooking, cleaning, and even speaking skills. Karima was brought up in a family where showing respect to elders was of high importance and that would include not confronting them openly.

Not having any specific outdoor activities, she had to spend most of her time in the apartment and not communicating with people. Therefore, she would usually find it hard to interact with people in English. She noticed that she had difficulty falling asleep and her arms going numb every now and then. She started feeling nervous and homesick. Ordinary things that had not worried her in the past would now cause anxiety.

One of the forms of domestic violence is verbal and emotional abuse, which usually causes mental problems. Karima has been facing verbal abuse that has caused anxiety. Following is a list of major symptoms seen in individuals who experience anxiety.

–  Excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of events and situations for at least six months

– There is significant difficulty in controlling the anxiety and worry. If someone is struggling to regain control, relax, or cope with the anxiety and worry, then this requirement is met.
–  The presence for most days over the previous six months of 3 or more of the following symptoms:

1. Feeling wound-up, tense, or restless
2. Easily becoming fatigued or worn-out
3. Concentration problems
4. Irritability
5. Significant tension in muscles
6. Difficulty with sleep

If you are the one who experiences these symptoms, or you have noticed them in a family member or friend, it is recommended to consult your family doctor and see how you can get help.

Photo retrieved from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com

Note: Any similarity of this case with medical cases of real people is purely coincidental!  

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