Table of Content
Understanding Emotional Abuse
When we hear the term ‘Emotional Abuse’, we make it a dumping ground for all sorts of negative emotions. Let us first understand what is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional Abuse is a consistent pattern of using abusive words and bullying behaviours that undermine a person's mental health and wear down their self-esteem.
Emotional abuse can take many forms like verbal attacks, criticism, belittlement, mocking, humiliation, neglect, controlling time, controlling wardrobe, controlling travel, limiting interactions with others, jealousy and threatening physical violence.
Emotional or Mental abuse, quite common in dating or married relationships, but they can occur in any relationship like parents, siblings, family members, friends, and coworkers.
Well, there’s a very thin line between a healthy and an emotionally abusive relationship. It is not emotional abuse to argue, to yell, or to react if they are hurt. Reacting to a certain situation or emotion is human nature and shouldn’t be characterised as their behaviour.
That’s why emotional abuse is one of the hardest forms of abuse to recognize. It can be manipulative and overt or subtle and insidious.
What Constitutes Emotional Abuse?
A harsh and unrelenting abuse is meant to undermine self-esteem. Here are a few signs of emotional abuse to figure out whether you are in such a relationship:
- Name-calling or Derogatory pet names
- Character assassination
- Constant sarcasm or causing public embarrassment
- Being made to feel guilty
- Intimidation and threats
- Taking over the financial control
- Digital spying
- Telling you what you can and can’t do
- Demanding respect
- Shutting down communication
- Actively working to turn others against you
- Blaming you for their problems
- Denying their abuse or denying something you know is true.
Emotional abuse like any other abuse can cause serious harm to the victim. Rather than a physical injury, emotional abuse is aimed to damage an individual's self esteem and confidence is targeted.
Emotional abuse is usually seen in an intimate relationship, the form of this relationship can vary. Emotional abuse can happen in any relationship, parent-child, between spouse, siblings, relatives and colleagues.
This form of abuse is usually not spoken about because unlike any other abuse here the victim and the abuser may not be aware of what is happening.
Signs you’re experiencing emotional abuse
Therapists in Bangalore have said that upon examining a relationship, the patients don’t realize that emotional abuse is subtle. Hence, it’s quite hard to detect it from the get-go. If you are having trouble detecting whether your relationship is abusive or not, then stop and think about how every interaction with your partner/ friend/ or family member makes you feel.
Listed below are some of the signs that you may be experiencing emotionally abusive behavior. If you find that you relate to one, or more than one sign, then you must contact a domestic violence helpline Bangalore immediately.
Emotional abusers have unrealistic expectations, and if they are not met they will unleash a flurry of constant criticism and emotional abuse. Some of the major examples are:
- Setting unreasonable demands
- Expecting you to leave everything aside and cater to their needs
- Demanding that all your time be spent with them
- Always being dissatisfied no matter how hard you try to please them
- Criticizing you for not completing any tasks according to their standards
- Expecting you to have the same opinion as them, and you are not permitted to have different opinions
Emotional abusers will constantly make you think that your feelings are pointless or that your opinion does not matter. Some examples are:
- Dismissing your perceptions of reality
- Refusing to accept that your feelings are real and not validating them
- Feeling like you have to explain yourself, constantly
- Accusing you of lashing out, saying that you’re overreacting or being overdramatic
- Refusing to accept our opinions or ideas
- Invalidating your needs as ridiculous
- Accusing you of being needy or selfish, especially if you want to fulfill your needs
Patients from rehab for abuse victims have stated that emotional abusers love to create chaos. This makes them feel like they have control over the victim. Some examples of chaotic behavior include:
- Starting an argument for no reason
- Making contradictory statements that are quite confusing
- Going through severe mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts
- Picking on subtle details about your clothes or work and criticizing them
- Feeling like you’re “walking on eggshells” with them because of their unpredictable behavior.
- If you find any of these signs familiar, then you will have to seek therapy for emotional abuse.
Emotional abusers will use blackmail as a way to control their victims, some popular examples include:
- Making you feel guilty by manipulating you
- Humiliating you in private or public
- Pushing your buttons just to control you
- Gaslighting you to avoid taking responsibility for their poor choices or mistakes
- Lying or denying that an event took place
- Giving you the silent treatment or punishing you by withholding any affection
Other signs include:
- Constant blaming
- Constant criticism
- Calling names and mocking
- Humiliation and insults
- Isolating the other person
- Constant threatening to leave the other person
- Disregarding and dismissing the other person's opinion and feelings
- Disregarding other person's privacy
- Denying of abusive behavior by the abuser
- Effects of emotional abuse on the victim:
- Low self-esteem
- Low self-confidence
- Feeling worthless
- Blaming self
- Depressive feelings
Impact of emotional abuse:
When emotional abuse is consistent, it gets severe with time, and the victim will tend to lose their self-worth and confidence. What makes this abuse worse is that the wounds are invisible and it’s disguised as worthlessness, self-doubt, and self-loathing. Studies have shown that the consequences of mental/emotional abuse are just as bad as physical abuse. This is why you must seek emotional abuse treatment, as soon as you see the signs.
Gradually, the verbal accusations, name-calling, constant criticisms, and gaslighting can erode a victim’s sense of self to a large extent. With time the victim will start agreeing with the abuser and they will become internally critical. This will be the beginning of a vicious abusive cycle, and the victims will start believing that they will never be good enough for anyone else.
Eventually, the victim will begin isolating themselves and pull back on friendships because they are convinced that no one loves them or will love them like the abuser. Emotional abuse can lead to several mental health problems like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and so on; It can also have an effect on your physical health like stomach ulcers, heart palpitations, eating disorders, and so on.
How to deal with emotional abuse?
Though emotional abuse can happen in any relationship, in India it is mostly seen in the cases of domestic violence; wherein the wife is emotionally blackmailed or criticized.
People in India tend to ignore emotional abuse assuming it to be a part of their life and notice it only when it turns into a bigger issue, like domestic violence.
The first step to seeking emotional abuse therapy is admitting to yourself and accepting that you are stuck in an abusive relationship. Once you identify any aspect of the emotional abuse, it’s important to accept it and seek out a therapist in Bangalore. Once you are honest about what you’re going through, you can start taking control of your life by seeking therapy for emotional abuse.
Making yourself a priority:
Whether it’s your mental or physical health, you need to make yourself a priority. You can start by stopping to worry about pleasing or seeking validation from your abuser, take care of your needs, do something that will help you think positive thoughts and affirm who you are.
This can be done when you are stern with the abuser and you have to sternly tell them that they cannot yell at you, call you names, insult you, be rude to you, and so on. For instance, you can tell them that if they abuse you in any way the conversation will be over and you will leave the room. However, you must follow through with setting boundaries. Don’t create or communicate boundaries that you have no intention of keeping.
Admitting to yourself that you can’t fix them:
No matter how hard you try, you can never fix another broken person. You cannot change an emotional abuser by doing something different or by trying something different. The abuser behaves negatively by choice, and you have to keep reminding yourself that you cannot blame yourself for their actions. The only thing you can do is fix or control your response to said actions.
Building a support network:
Therapists in Bangalore have stated you must talk to a trusted family member, friend, or even a counselor about what you are going through. You must take time away from the abuser and spend it with people who love and support you. Avoid isolating yourself because it will deteriorate your mental health. A healthy network of loved ones will help you speak the truth and gain some much-needed perspective.
Other ways of dealing with emotional abuse include:
- Accept that the abuse isn’t your responsibility.
- Stop blaming yourself.
- Disengage with the abusive person and set personal boundaries.
- Exit the relationship or circumstance.
- Make your mental and physical health a priority.
- Give yourself time to heal.
- Build a support network. Talk to a friend, family, or visit a counselor.
Are you looking for a Therapist for Emotional Abuse treatment?
Call us to book an appointment with our counselor or mental health professional.
Like all problems, this too has a solution. You can talk to someone who understands abusive and violent relationships. In this case, it’s best to talk to a Therapist.
There are various types of counseling and psychotherapy available. Emotional abuse treatment is available for both the victim as well as the abuser at Cadabams Hospitals Bangalore.
Emotional abuse treatment for abusers is very crucial. It is believed that the abuser themselves have their own emotional issues that result in abusive behavior and it’s crucial to address them for a healthy life of both the abuser and the survivor.
When an emotionally abused victim comes for psychotherapy, they have very low self-esteem and confidence and they do not possess the courage to break out from the abusive relationship.
Cadabams’ team of experienced psychotherapists help the victim build their confidence and self-esteem and help them free themselves from the abusive relationship (if that is what the victim desires).
Treatment options for emotional abuse:
- Individual therapy: To gain self-esteem and confidence back and to exit from the abusive relationship.
- Group therapy: in this therapy, the survivors of emotional abuse gather, share their experiences, and support each other to recover.
- Family therapy: This is very helpful when the abuse is a part of the victim's family and agrees to engage in therapy. In case one deals with emotionally abusive parents, this therapy works best when the entire family is involved in the session.
- Assertiveness training: Emotional abuse often persists when the victim cannot say “no” to the abuser. This training enables the victim to be more vocal about their needs and encourages them to raise their voice against emotional abuse. It will not only help them defend themselves but will also encourage them to make others aware of it.
- Marital therapy: This therapy helps the abuser confront and understand the victim's sufferings and build a more functional relationship. Marital therapy focuses more on working on the dynamics of the relationship.
- Interpersonal skills: This focuses on creating effective communication patterns in a relationship, helping the individuals work together and support each other. It basically focuses on creating better relationships with others in a healthy manner.
- Emotional trauma counseling: Here the therapist works with the traumatic memories of the event. They help the victim accept the past and work through it. It enables the victim to free themselves from the effects of abusive trauma.
Coping with emotional abuse:
- Try to interact with the abuser in a positive way.
- Using humor always helps distract from the topic where you feel you're being emotionally abused.
- Acting rationally rather than emotionally.
- Know your rights and utilize them.
- Do not respond with verbal aggressiveness or physical manner, as this may only worsen things. Try to stay calm or walk away.
- Engage in activities that boost your confidence.
- Realize that it is not your fault.
In extreme cases, it is better to let go of the relationship and cut off yourself from the abuser.
Signs of emotional abuse may sound common but it should not go unnoticed and should be addressed before it turns into something worse. Specialized treatment from professionals for emotional abuse is available at Cadabams Hospitals, Bangalore.