Understanding the Signs of Emotional Abuse

That Psych Nerd

Know the signs so you can spot emotional abuse.

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Emotional abuse is a vastly misunderstood topic. In fact, emotional abuse is the most challenging form of abuse to spot, making it even more taboo.

When a victim of emotional abuse speaks out, there is usually a lack of understanding from those around them. Emotional abuse is a tricky experience to voice and works through. Victims of emotional abuse may be told they are too sensitive or overreacting.

I remember when I first tried to describe what I was experiencing. It always came out sounding as if I was a crybaby.

Oh, they hurt your feelings? Well, grow tougher skin!

When actually, the abuse is far more damaging and hurtful than that.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is relatively self-explanatory on a surface level. But what you see on a surface level with emotional abuse is only the tip of the ice burg.

Emotional abuse is nonphysical, but belittling tactics, threats, insults, and many other behaviors aim to tear a person down, so they feel threatened, degraded, inferior, or shameful.

It’s abusive behavior directed at someone else that targets their emotions. The abuse targets someone’s thoughts, feelings, desires, and beliefs, aiming to tear them down emotionally.

Emotional abuse is something that can drag on secretly for years. If there are no bruises to hide to injuries to conceal, then what physical proof is there?

It’s hard for many people to believe in something unless they see physical proof, but even that can be difficult to achieve.

So how can someone show proof that they are being abused when there is no physical proof?

Well, the evidence lies within you — as cheesy as that sounds. The changes to your personality, lifestyle, and self-worth all take a considerable burden from the stress of emotional abuse.

What are the signs of emotional abuse?

The signs of emotional abuse are vast and expansive. Emotional abuse can happen in various ways, scenarios, and relationships. There may not be physical signs that something is wrong, but the behavior of the abuser is the second part of understanding emotional abuse.

All emotional abuse can look different, but typically though, there are some constant themes:

  • Gaslighting
  • Name-calling
  • Being overly critical
  • Isolating you from other family and friends
  • Conditional love

The abuser is always looking for your weaknesses. They know how to keep targeting those weaknesses because they want to keep you under their control.

The gaslighting and personal attacks are all meant to keep you where they want you. If they keep you quiet by belittling you in front of people, then they can effectively keep you silent.

Is emotional abuse really abuse?

Emotional abuse is 100% abuse.

If someone is toying with your feelings, your livelihood, or any part of your life to make themselves feel more powerful, then they are a monster.

Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is defined by a pattern of behaviors that one partner will use to maintain power and control over another partner in a relationship.

There has been a debate on whether emotional abuse is considered abuse. But, no matter what, emotional abuse is classified as abuse. Abuse doesn’t need to leave a scar or bruises — psychological torture is the scare victims bear.

Emotional abuse can occur in non-romantic relationships. Nearly all of the emotional abuse I endured was through non-romantic partners throughout my lifetime.

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Emotional abuse can look different — there isn’t a set way. So it’s essential to know the themes that play out that have been discussed in this article.

If you resonated with anything mentioned in the article, and feel that you may be in an unsafe situation, then I suggest you visit: https://www.thehotline.org/.

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As Originally Posted on Medium

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MS in Psychology | Mom of three cats and some house plants | #MentalHealthAdvocate #BeKind

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