Emotional abuse is often so misunderstood that many people don't even consider it "real" trauma. It does not leave visible bruises or marks. There is no physical "evidence" one can point to to prove that it occurred. But emotional abuse is very real and very painful, and is often a major component in most dysfunctional families and abusive relationships.
Sometimes the abuse is a conscious choice on the part of the perpetrator; sometimes it is the result of "stress, poor parenting skills, a lack of available resources" or other reasons, according the the American Humane Society. The AHS further goes on to say that emotional abuse survivors "suffer at least as much, if not more, than if they are physically assaulted," and that its internal scars often become much more "visible" later on in life.
Unfortunately, emotional abuse is not only limited to family structures, but can instead also be found in romantic relationships, friendships, and even work environments. It can manifest itself in more aggressive ways such as name-calling, ridiculing, minimizing, bullying, and manipulating. But it can also be administered very passive-aggressively, through simple or chronic neglect, ignoring, denying or gaslighting. These tactics can be particularly hurtful because it is harder to see someone as responsible for harming us by not doing something. Further, emotional abuse survivors can be exploited, terrorized, isolated or frequently made to feel afraid.
It is often said that emotional abuse is an attack on a person's psyche, the deepest part of his or her core. It makes a lot of sense then, that its survivors would feel dejected and empty, unloved and "broken". Such attacks are extremely intimate and devastating, and recovery can be hampered if one is not able to identify the abuse for what it is, or allowed to develop the chance to build self-esteem and coping methods to counteract it.
This week's questions about emotional abuse are:
- How has emotional abuse impacted you most?
- How have you come to recognize and identify emotional abuse? What kinds of behaviors do you see as red flags?
- What are some effective coping methods you've learned to help you recover from emotional abuse?
- What kinds of habits and behaviors do you regularly employ to promote healthy emotional interactions between yourself and loved ones?