He removed her makeup when he thought she was wearing too much. He refused to put her name on the leases for their car and their house. He told her that she had a green card only because he chose to marry her. Reema Zaman, our guest in this week’s episode, was in an emotionally abusive marriage. Although her husband’s abuses never left any physical mark, it took her years to repair the damage he inflicted upon her.
Because emotional abuse is so insidious, it can be difficult to recognize. Ms. Zaman describes some of the telltale signs of an emotionally abusive relationship and helps the Sugars answer two painful letters from women who are struggling to disentangle themselves from their abusive partners. One letter writer continually returns to her ex-boyfriend’s arms despite her family’s warnings. Another letter writer yearns to take control of her voice after signing divorce papers that stipulate that she can’t say that she is the mother of her four children.
“We think it’s only a physical bruise that acts as a receipt of grief and a permission slip to leave,” Ms. Zaman says. “But feeling your heart break is reason enough to leave.”
Ms. Zaman is an award-winning author, speaker, actress and artist from Bangladesh. She’s the 2018 Oregon Literary Arts Writer of Color Fellow and the author of the memoir “I Am Yours,” which is available for pre-order now.
Resources and Recommendations
The National Domestic Violence Hotline
“Runaway,” by Alice Munro
“Crazy Love,” by Leslie Morgan Steiner
New episodes of Dear Sugars are released weekly. Do you have a question for the Sugars? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.