Emotional Abuse

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Emotional abuse may not be as noticeable as physical abuse, but it can be just as damaging. While there is no formal definition, emotional abuse is generally understood to comprise any non-physical actions and behaviors designed to intentionally hurt or control another person. These behaviors include insults, threats, stalking, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, and constant monitoring.

Specific behaviors that are considered emotional abuse include:

  • Calling you names
  • Intentional public embarrassment
  • Screaming and yelling
  • Keeping you away from friends and family
  • Damaging your property

  • Controlling what you wear and do
  • Threatening suicide to keep you from breaking the relationship
  • Using online communities and social media to control or humiliate you
  • Initiating rumors about you

Effects of Emotional Abuse

One of the worst effects of emotional abuse is that victims often end up blaming themselves and believing they are in the wrong. They minimize the abuse, saying that at least it wasn’t physical violence, but emotional violence can be just as bad. Physical abuse isn’t necessary for a relationship to feel unhealthy or toxic. Verbal and emotional abuse causes emotional scars, and can easily lead to physical abuse if the relationship continues.

In the short-term, emotional abuse can cause:

  • Questioning one’s own memory (the beginnings of manipulation)
  • Guilt and shame
  • Anxiety

  • Becoming submissive
  • Learned helplessness
  • Feeling undesirable

Long-term emotional abuse can have some truly damaging effects on your personality and behaviors. Over time, the victim will develop such low self-esteem that they won’t feel worthy of a supportive, non-abusive relationship and will stay with their abuser. The victim will eventually believe what they are told by their abusers. Other long-term effects of emotional abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Emotional instability
  • Sleep problems

  • Sudden physical pain without any cause
  • Trust issues
  • Feeling trapped and isolated
  • The victim may also develop Stockholm Syndrome wherein the victim identifies and bonds with the abuser to stop the abuse.

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Treatment & Therapy for Emotional Abuse

Victims may be able to convince their abusers to seek treatment through couple or individual therapy. This can be harmful as the abuser can easily lie or paint themselves as the victim.

For the victim, recovery starts with escaping the negative relationship. Talk to a parent, adult, or friend you trust. Develop a safety plan to keep your abuser away. This may involve getting a restraining order.

Therapy can be highly successful for the victim as long as the victim is able to stay open and honest about their experience. Many may find it difficult to admit the abuse or hide it entirely based on the shame and guilt they developed in the toxic relationship. Therapy can help you reestablish your self-esteem and personal strength. It can help you identify healthy relationships and modify your thoughts and behaviors to cope with depression and other symptoms that have developed from emotional abuse.

HARP is here to help you recover from emotional abuse. If you have questions or are ready to get help today, contact us at (877) 806-5022.

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