Last night, John and I were watching a show on television. There was a moment when an emotionally abusive man (growing more manipulative and threatening with every episode) whispers a few words into the ear of his terrified wife. He says nothing overtly threatening. He doesn't yell or attack physically. But from her body language, the audience senses extreme discomfort. Her fear is palpable. She is intimidated and -- at least in that moment -- powerless to protect herself from him. It was his very presence that triggered her discomfort and fear.
Whether you watch this from the perspective of someone who has never experienced abuse or someone who has, you get it. She has no idea what he might be capable of and she is afraid of him with good reason. But if you have been a victim of emotional abuse and domestic violence yourself, the intensity of emotion is heightened because you relate and identify with her.