As women’s month draws to a close much can be said about women’s issues, abuse is usually at the top of the list, we mostly think of only physical abuse, where there are visible scars and an easy way to trace where harm was done. Emotional abuse is more subtle, not easy to trace but as equally dangerous. Emotional abuse is any abusive behavior that isn’t physical, which may include verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation, which most often unfolds as a pattern of behavior over time that aims to diminish another person’s sense of identity, dignity and self worth, and which often results in anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
It is reported that close to 80% of women have been abused emotionally by a partner in one way or another. Most times it is only when the relationship has ended that they start to realize how dire the situation was. Let’s consider for a moment how emotional abuse could play out in relationship. These are just a few signs:
12 Signs of emotional abuse:
- Name-calling. They’ll blatantly call you “stupid,” “a loser,” or words too awful to repeat here.
- Character assassination. This usually involves the word “always.” You’re always late, wrong, screwing up, disagreeable, and so on. Basically, they say you’re not a good person.
- Yelling. Yelling, screaming, and swearing are meant to intimidate and make you feel small and inconsequential. It might be accompanied by fist-pounding or throwing things.
- Dismissiveness. You tell them about something that’s important to you and they say it’s nothing. Body language like eye-rolling, smirking, headshaking, and sighing help convey the same message.
- “Joking.” The jokes might have a grain of truth to them or be a complete fabrication. Either way, they make you look foolish.
- Sarcasm. Often just a dig in disguise. When you object, they claim to have been teasing and tell you to stop taking everything so seriously.
- Insults of your appearance. They tell you, just before you go out, that your hair is ugly or your outfit is clownish.
- Belittling your accomplishments. Your abuser might tell you that your achievements mean nothing, or they may even claim responsibility for your success.
- Put-downs of your interests. They might tell you that your hobby is a childish waste of time or you’re out of your league when you play sports. Really, it’s that they’d rather you not participate in activities without them.
- Pushing your buttons. Once your abuser knows about something that annoys you, they’ll bring it up or do it every chance they get.
- Monitoring your whereabouts. They want to know where you are all the time and insist that you respond to calls or texts immediately. They might show up just to see if you’re where you’re supposed to be.
- Unpredictability. They’ll explode with rage out of nowhere, suddenly shower you with affection, or become dark and moody at the drop of a hat to keep you walking on eggshells.
I have chosen to mention 12 examples, they are more than 64 examples (I have provided a link below). If you read through these again quickly, and do a quick poll, how many of these have you experienced, or rather how many of these are you guilty of? If you have experienced more than half, you have been in an emotionally abusive relationship often without realizing it, you might have missed the signs because emotional abuse is rarely a single event. Instead, it occurs over time as a pattern of behavior that’s “sustained” & “repetitive.” this is why it’s so complicated. I have chosen to speak mainly on romantic relationships in this blog, but this is quite prevalent in families, working relationships and most social settings. Why does this happen? What causes people to be emotionally abusive?
- Childhood trauma
Most abusers learned to abuse from their parents. Their early childhood history consisted of receiving abuse themselves and/or seeing others abused. As a consequence, abuse is the normal condition of life for these people. Such people internalized a particular relationship dynamic, namely the complementary roles of “abuser” and “victim”.
They are familiar with and fully understand the horror of being the helpless victim from their own childhood experience. Given the choice between being the out-of-control victim, or the in-control abuser, some of these people grow up to prefer the role of the abuser.
As they become adults, they simply turn this relationship dynamic around and start acting out the “abuser” side of the relationship dynamic they have learned. They hurt others in the process and this may go unregistered or only occur as a dim part of their awareness.
2. Mental health issues
Someone with anger management issues or a drinking or drug problem may easily get out of control during arguments (e.g., because there is something wrong with their ability to inhibit themselves at the brain level) and verbally or physically strike out at their partners.
Consider this a moment friends and sit with for a little while on my next BLOG, this WEDNESDAY I will touch on how to recover from them, how to possibly distance yourself from such people and what to do when you realize you, yourself are abusive.
Life is Art