Have you experienced the following?
- Being made to feel you aren’t good enough
- Being put down through name calling
- Your partner making jokes at your expense
- Being publicly humiliated
- Avoiding your friends or family out of fear of how your partner will act around them
- Feeling that everything bad in your partner’s life is your fault
- Feeling tense when your partner is around
- Having anxiety over angering or disagreeing with your partner
- Threats that your partner will physically harm you or your loved ones if you leave
- Threats that your partner will hurt themselves or commit suicide if you leave them
- Feeling that you never know what mood to expect from your partner
Emotional abuse is the most difficult form of abusive behavior to recognize as well as the most prevalent. Due to the fact that it is so readily accepted in our society, many people feel that emotionally abusive behavior is the norm in relationships. Occurring on a spectrum, types of emotional abuse range from getting the cold shoulder to being verbally chastised on a regular basis.
Abusers use a number of tactics to maintain control over their victim. Aggressive forms of emotional abuse involve making the victim feel that he or she is worthless. Blaming, threatening, criticizing, and name calling are aggressive forms of abuse. The abuser seeks to establish dominance by controlling the partner and manipulating situations so that the victim always feels they are in the wrong. They may begin to believe that the abuse is their fault, and they are worth so little that they deserve how they are being treated. Invalidating the victim’s ideas or feelings are further ways to belittle his or her partner and maintain control.
Minimizing the victim’s response to abusive behavior is often a way that abusers continue their reign. Making their partner feel that they are overreacting to a situation or exaggerating what happened and what they are feeling can cause victims to loose trust in their own judgment. Feeling confused about what is real and what is not serves to keep the victim immobilized, always believing that maybe it really is not that bad.
The abuser may even deny that the abuse is occurring, reporting to have never said a negative thing to his or her partner. Denial of their partner’s needs or ignoring them all together are further ways to punish the victim and ensure control over the other person. This can be especially detrimental because of the confusion this causes the victim and the further loss of trust in themselves and their own thoughts or feelings about an event.
Therapists at Noyau Wellness see many clients who have suffered years of emotional abuse. We recognize the pain and difficulties you are facing when dealing with these painful memories and emotions. Many people may not recognize that they have been victims of emotional abuse. Because of this form of abuse and how accepted it is in our society, it can be difficult for people to see themselves as having been abused.
Many adults grow up in emotionally abusive homes and later find that their current relationships mimic the same dynamics of their past. When left unaddressed, victims of childhood emotional abuse can develop a “learned helplessness” that follows them into adulthood. Therapy can be very beneficial towards healing these old wounds and developing assertiveness to prevent further victimization. Our therapists work to create a safe and encouraging atmosphere where clients can develop a healthy sense of self worth and esteem. Learning to trust yourself and feel deserving of healthy relationships is a primary goal after having survived the difficult experience of emotional abuse.