About emotional abuse

In big corporations, like supermarkets, work is so well designed and structured that you cannot steal a cent without getting noticed... and fired. In smaller businesses, like a family shop, stealing is easy. Even if you "borrow" a coin a day and just that, in the long term you could be stealing quite a good "side income" without big deals.

Emotional abuse is like stealing a coin a day from a person's health and soul. It works the same way. Its results, conversely, are often sad.

What is emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is a process in which a person is drained from his or her self-worth, ideas, feelings and —in general— personality by a constant attack which does not include physical action. A person who suffers emotional abuse can get to the point of losing his or her identity, but of course, there is a complete gradient of degrees and consequences. Yes, it is an abuse. Emotional abuse is usually carried out with the intention of controlling the victim by means of despise.

That said, it is time to be a little more specific:

There are two main kinds of emotional abuse against a person. One is silent, and utilizes looks and gestures to make the abused person start doubting about himself or herself. If you want an example, think in a case in which a husband looks badly at his wife, like saying "are you really going to wear that?" day after day, year after year.

The second one is open and direct. It may include, among others, some of the following variants:

+ Humiliating, name-calling or insulting the person systematically
+ Jealousy and possessiveness
+ Threatening physical or sexual abuse
+ Preventing the person from socializing
+ Restricting his or her access to money or phone calls
+ Restricting his or her access to family or friends
+ Despising the victim's thoughts
+ Criticizing him or her baldy in public
+ Throwing or hitting things near the victim
+ Telling the person you don't love him or her any more
+ Withholding displays of affection or sex
+ Threatening ill-treatment to the victim's pets or children
+ Blackmailing, in general

Obviously, these attitudes in a daily or sustained basis can really destroy a victim's personality, reducing him or her.

Consequences of emotional abuse

The consequences of emotional abuse are also its best symptoms. They may include some or many of the following things, in different degrees:

+ Depression
+ Nightmares
+ Intense flashbacks
  (thinking about a past situation strong enough to revive it in your mind)
+ Sleeping disorders
+ Concentration problems
+ Amnesia
+ Reduced self-esteem
+ Doubtfulness
+ Undertaking the transmitted negative messages as true
+ Guilt
+ Insecurity, even about your likes and dislikes!
+ Great attachment to the abuser
+ Loneliness
+ Need of connection
+ Obvious attempts to draw the attention
+ Panic at the idea of living alone
+ Inability to answer who they are or what they are like
+ Condescending thoughts about oneself

Why isn't it stopped?

Most of the times, victims of emotional abuse do not know they are suffering it. They considered the first abusive comments as a normal part of an argument and time did the rest to drain their capacity to detect or defend themselves from the problem.

In any case, emotional abuse is a symptom of psychological problems in the abuser, not the victim. His or her fear of abandonment is so intense that he tries to control his victim to avoid it. Emotional abuse is symptom of both selfishness and immaturity. The abuser only cares for his own welfare, and he or she must be stopped.

How can you stop emotional abuse?

If you are being victim of emotional abuse, then the basic recommendations are these four:

+ First, get aware of the problem and read about it a little. Understanding what emotional abuse is and how is it carried out, you will be able to defend yourself from it.
+ Second, talk to a friend or relative about the problem. If he or she doesn't believe you, look for someone else. In short: get support.
+ Third, the main one: use the next emotional attack to defend yourself. Defending yourself does not mean killing anybody; it is just doing what it takes to have the abuser stop. Most of the times, one well-made defence is enough to stop the abuser for a while. Later, in a more appropriate moment, tell him or her that you have been in a situation of emotional abuse and that he or she needs to make changes in his or her life if you want to continue together. Do not be afraid to call the abuser so. One "can you stop being so abusive!?" can really shock an abuser who is not aware of his mistake.
+ Fourth, call the police if you cannot get results in other ways. Emotional abuse is a crime in many countries and it may be a crime in yours, too. Look for a good attorney and go ahead. Sue.

Isn't this a way to look for more conflict? No! Some victims of emotional abuse can really think defending themselves is a way to look for more conflict. Defending yourself is not an attack: it is a defence, period. Continue, please. You will be fine.

Knowledge + You