We came together out of a shared passion for helping spread awareness and healing to survivors of hidden abuse. Survivors recover when they are understood, validated, and supported in leaving abusive relationships, but the signs of this particular form of abuse are not yet well understood, even in the clinical community.
Hidden abuse - otherwise known as narcissistic, psychological, and emotional abuse, or coercive control - is domestic violence, even if there is no physical battery. Survivors of hidden abuse are routinely invalidated, minimized, and harmed by the very systems set up to protect them due to a lack of awareness that
HIDDEN ABUSE IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
A National and International Movement
Fortunately, a number of countries have codified laws prohibiting coercive control, including England,
France, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Australia is set to be the next country to criminalize coercive control.
In the United States, however, only a limited number of states recognize hidden abuse/coercive control (Hawaii, Connecticut, and California - with legislation pending in Washington, Florida, New York, Maryland, and South Carolina). Despite these promising developments, thus far Hawaii is the only state to criminalize coercive control.
Hidden abuse is largely overlooked in the training of therapists, and well-meaning clinicians routinely miss the warning signs that a client may the victim of hidden abuse. In couples' therapy, narcissistic individuals frequently charm couples' therapists into colluding with their abuse and exacerbate the confusion, destabilization, and trauma encountered by victims.
When victims of hidden abuse seek help from law enforcement, they are told there is no legal recourse or protections from their abuse unless they are physically battered.
In divorce cases, hidden abuse victims are oftentimes mandated into co-parenting, mediation and court proceedings with their abusers, usually without the protections afforded to domestic violence survivors. Compounding this systemic trauma, victims face the painful reality of sharing custody with an abuser because most courts do not recognize that hidden abuse is domestic violence. When victims are able to free themselves from these relationships, they live in fear for their children's safety with an abuser. But rarely is there any legal recourse. The courts do not recognize that an emotionally abusive partner is an emotionally abusive parent.
We seek to bring awareness to the public, to victims, and to the systems set up to protect them to end the systemic retraumatization of victims and their children.
In their search for help and support, victims rely on a lengthy patchwork of seeking information and resources. There is a dearth of centralized information with easy access to connect survivors to resources. Finding help should not be so hard.
We seek to create an easily accessible directory of trauma-informed therapists who routinely help victims heal from hidden abuse.
The public at large needs to understand hidden abuse to prevent future victimization and trauma. Therapists need to be trained to identify hidden abuse. The courts and family law professionals need to understand the profound impact hidden abuse has on victims and their children. Laws need to change to criminalize coercive control in every state.
We seek this systemic change through advocacy, education, training, and prevention.