Emotional Abuse: Signs, Impact, and Measures| Stop Suffering in Silence
When we hear the word “violence” we often just think of the physical abuse – after all, it’s the physical evidence that we often believe in – but what we often fail to realize is that abuse is not always physical or even noticeable. More often than not, we get caught up in and become victims of mental and emotional abuse.
The violence that many suffer in silence; the violence that is least noticed; the violence that we rarely talk about; and the violence that needs to be addressed now!
According to statistics, the majority of the abuse or domestic violence cases reported are of physical abuse. With only a handful of cases registered as emotional abuse, it’s often overlooked. This negligence in addressing non-physical abuse causes many people to suffer in silence.
But why? Why isn’t emotional abuse reported as a major abuse? Well, the reasons can be as follows;
- An individual isn’t aware that they are exposed to emotional abuse.
- Emotional abuse is often disguised as an act of care, love, and protection.
- It is often subtle and not as obvious with its lack of physical evidence.
- An individual doesn’t feel safe to confide in anyone else.
Emotional abuse makes you feel trapped in a never-ending cycle with no way to break free from it all.
So, how do we identify whether we’re experiencing emotional abuse? When the signs of emotional abuse aren’t subtle, there are some common signs that we can always look out for. But before learning how to spot the signs of emotional abuse, let’s understand what emotional abuse is.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse involves a person’s attempt to frighten, control, discredit, isolate, and silence the other person. This makes one feel trapped and causes them to feel too fearful to leave the relationship. It further leads to a never-ending cycle. If you’re experiencing emotional abuse then you often fall victim to manipulation, shaming, blaming, and criticism.
Emotional abuse can happen in any relationship you have – romantic relationships, marriage, friendships, family relationships, and even work relationships.
If there is a constant pattern of abusive actions, behaviors, or words, often accompanied by bullying and manipulation, then it could be considered emotional abuse. Eventually, emotional abuse wears on your self-worth and self-esteem and deteriorates your mental and emotional health.
Now, let’s learn how to spot the common signs of emotional abuse;
Signs of Emotional Abuse From Anyone:
Here are Some of the Signs that Shows you are a Victim of Emotional Abuse:
1. They might address you with awful and disrespectful names like- “stupid” “failure” and more, blatantly. In some instances, they might call you in disguise.
2. No matter what wrong is happening in their life or yours, you are always blamed for it.
3. Irrespective of the fact that whether it’s just the two of you or you are surrounded by the public, they don’t think twice before picking a fight or making fun of you. Their end goal is to publicly or socially humiliate you.
4. Even if you are doing amazingly well in your life and are being praised by others, they will belittle your accomplishments and look down on you.
5. They won’t participate in activities that you’re interested in. Instead, they demand you to accompany them in their favorite activities. Your opinions and interests are not taken seriously.
6. If they know about your weaknesses or vulnerabilities, then they won’t miss a chance to bring it up during your worst moments.
7. They constantly monitor you – from where you are to what you are wearing – they want to be informed beforehand. In some cases, they might even control your life financially, socially, and physically. There is no respect for privacy when you experience emotional abuse.
8. They are likely to distance you from your close support circle by telling you that they think wrong of you. Again, an emotional abuser wants to control you and this leads them to cause a distance between you and people who care about you. They want to alienate you from your loved ones.
9. When you decide to share your feelings with them, they might just trivialize the whole situation and blame you for overreacting.
10. They never validate your feelings, emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. They never validate you as a person either. They will end up finding one or the other thing wrong in you and further lecture you to improve.
Please Note: These emotionally manipulative behaviors are not limited to romantic relationships or domestic partnerships. These signs of emotional abuse can be found in different relationships in your life.
The Impact of Emotional Abuse on Your Life
Emotional Abuse leaves a negative impact on your overall well-being and life. Some common negative consequences of emotional abuse on your life could include;
- Lower self-esteem
- More self-doubt
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of self-perception and understanding
- Increase in self-criticism
Studies have shown that the impact of emotional abuse on your life is no lesser than that of physical abuse or violence. Instead of physical evidence, emotional abuse leaves you with emotional wounds.
Just because the effects of emotional abuse are not seen, does not mean that it is not severe or valid. With time, the false accusations, verbal bashing, name-calling, constant blaming, shaming, and gas lighting can cause your self-esteem and self-worth to deteriorate until you lose all perception of who you truly are.
Over time, once you’re trapped in the never-ending cycle of emotional abuse, you pull away and shut yourself from all healthy relationships in your life. This causes you to self-isolate and socially withdraw from your loved ones.
Along with these negative consequences, emotional abuse can leave you with plenty of mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia.
Alarming Facts To Consider (Source: WHO)
- Across five regions, 82% of women parliamentarians reported having experienced some form of psychological violence while serving their terms.
- 1 in 10 women in the European Union report having experienced cyber-harassment since the age of 15.
- School-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls
- Less than 40% of the women who experience violence seek help of any sort.
- Emerging data shows a five-time increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.
These facts are not only alarming but also concerning. Therefore, it becomes important to raise your voice and stand for yourself against any form of violence. Only then we can see these numbers dropping.
How To Deal With Emotional Abuse?
The impact of emotional abuse might be mostly behavioral, but it does weaken the mental health of individuals. Emotional abuse not only triggers negative emotions like grief and shame but also increases the risk of mental health issues in your life.
So, below are some effective ways to deal with emotional abuse that will, hopefully, help you break the cycle of emotional manipulation and violence;
1. Stop Blaming Yourself
Please know that the emotional abuse you’re going through is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself for experiencing emotional abuse and letting others abuse you emotionally. Instead, feel empowered that you are finally stepping out of it. Remember there is nothing wrong with you and you are loved.
2. Put Yourself First
For a long time you have been keeping others above you, prioritizing their needs, and loving them. Well, it is time for you to turn the tide and direct this love and care to yourself. Do everything that makes you happy and just for a while don’t think of anyone but yourself. Take at least 30 minutes out of your day for yourself and devote it to caring for yourself.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
Be assertive and affirmative while communicating your needs to the other person. If you don’t want to go out with them or want them to know about your whereabouts, just simply and firmly say it. Create and maintain some healthy boundaries. Let them know what the consequences will be if they don’t heed the boundaries.
4. Heal Your Body To Heal Your Mind
Our mind and body are closely related. When our body feels weak and tired, our feelings and thoughts also dip. That is why you must fill your body with positive and healthy energy so that it can reflect in the way you feel and express yourself. You can choose from different types of meditation, exercises, and activities to heal your body and further heal yourself from within.
5. Stop Engaging With The Abuser
Another way to deal with emotional abuse is to avoid engaging with the abuser. If the abuser comes at you with an argument or insults you, do not engage with them. Don’t offer explanations or soothe their ruffled feathers. Simply walk away from them if it’s safe to do so. Know that there is no “fixing” them and no matter what you do, they’ll never stop manipulating you.
6. Create A Support System
It can be challenging to express what you’re experiencing, especially when it comes to emotional abuse. However, try to find some support system that can help you feel validated and loved. Talk to a trusted person or even a counselor if you wish. Having a support network may allow you to feel less isolated and even give you a different perspective on what you’re experiencing.
7. Consider Walking Away
If the abuser in your life refuses to change or let go of their manipulative ways, then consider walking away from the relationship. If it’s a family member, a friend, or a partner, think about leaving them. Depending on the level of abuse and support you have can also have an impact on your decision. If you feel safe to walk away from them, then try your best to do so. It’s for your own good!
8. Seek Professional Support
It might seem overwhelming to take preventive measures against emotional abuse, but if you find the right professional help then the process can be eased out. With the help of a therapist, you can learn how to make your boundaries strong, focus on yourself, and learn important coping strategies.
We hope this blog will help you understand the signs of emotional abuse, their impact, and how to deal with emotional abuse. If you or someone you love is going through emotional abuse do share this article with them and help them stop suffering in silence.
You can also reach out to these helpline numbers in case of immediate help;
Also, be patient and empathetic with the one who has been through emotional abuse and keep reminding them that they are not alone! If you’re experiencing emotional abuse, then know that help is there and you don’t have to suffer in silence or alone.
Take Care and Stay Safe!