I heard from many of you That this was a topic that you really wanted me to dive deeper into. And the thing about emotional abuse. That I think is important to note. Is the fact that it’s really elusive. It can happen for a long period of time. Without us even knowing it’s going on. And it can damage us. Sometimes, and some therapists and researchers believe. That it can be more damaging than Actual physical abuse. Because it can undermine what we really think about ourselves.
How we feel about ourselves. Our whole belief about who we are, and what we’re going to do with our lives. And so it can leave these wounds. For years. Without us sometimes even recognising that they are there. The first sign or symptom of emotional abuse is: Are they degrading you? Ask yourself that question. Like I said, often times we don’t notice these things are happening. The way to know if this is happening. Is, are they putting you down in front of others? Do they use sarcasm as a way to hurt you? And then when you speak up and say, ‘Hey, that really hurt’ They tell you that you are being too sensitive.
Do they make jokes at your expense? Do they ever negate how you feel? Like when you tell them that certain things have made you feel a certain way. They tell you that you are completely wrong or off base. Because each of these little things that can happen. Add up to a really poor confidence. It can really eat away at how we feel about ourselves. And our confidence when we walk into a room. Because we are being put down in front of people all the time. And humiliated. The second sign or symptom of emotional abuse is: When someone is dominating or controlling your life. Now to that end. I don’t mean someone who is just ‘controlling’.
I mean someone who belittles you. Who treats you like a child. Who may even control your spending. And they will, when you tell them about plans that you have. And aspirations. They put them down. And make them seem so stupid and small. And they act like they are just superior to you. And everything that you do. Is something that they have control over. You often feel. Sometimes I have patients who have told me, That after time they even struggled To make very small decisions without calling that person. Or getting a hold of that person. Because they’ve been under their control for so long. They can forget how to even think for themselves.
The third sign or symptom of emotional abuse is: Accusing and blaming. Does the person in your life, Struggle to laugh at themselves? They never apologise. That would be ridiculous to ask them to do so. Often these people will blame all of their problems onto other people. They are never to blame. Never. They have no short comings. And they tend to highlight your short comings. And make you apologise when you’ve done nothing wrong.
These people just tend to feel that they do everything best. And if anybody questions that. Or puts them down. Or says anything criticising to them. They freak out. They completely lose it. The fourth sign or symptom of emotional abuse is: Neglect. We all know these people. They give us the cold shoulder. They stone wall us. They give us the ‘silent treatment’ when we have done something bad. Or we might not even know what we have done wrong. And that is most often the case when it’s emotional abuse. And I find this to be most common, In parent child relationships. Where the parent will ice out the kid.
They will not meet their needs. Basic needs. They will stay in a locked bedroom in the back. They wont come out. They will withhold affection or attention. Or sometimes I’ve even had parents say They are going to show up for a play or something. And they don’t. Because they have done something wrong. And so this is how they manage it. And know that this is not a normal type of punishment. This isn’t an okay way to treat a child.
This isn’t a way to parent. This is emotional abuse. The fifth sign or symptom of emotional abuse is: Emeshment or codependence. Now the way to know that is happening. Is when someone doesn’t treat you like a whole other person. They treat you as an extension of themselves. They may make choices for you. They may make choices for you as a whole cohesive group. They may share information with you, that is completely going through boundaries that you’ve set up. It may be a parent that over shares about their relationship with your step father. Or your father. Or your mother. Or somebody. They are sharing their sexual relationship, possibly. I’ve had parents do this to clients of mine. And it can be really difficult to take. Also this person tends to not take into consideration what you want or need.
They’ll say, ‘I’m doing what’s best for you’. Now I know parents will do that sometimes. And I don’t want this to be confused with parents saying, ‘I’m not going to buy you that $200 pair of shoes.’ ‘Because I know what’s best for you. You’re going to be fine with this $50 pair of shoes.’ That’s not what I’m talking about. What I’m talking about is you actually have needs or wants. Like, ‘I really would like to take this class.’ Or, ‘It’s really important for me, that I go to this university.’ Or see this friend. And they are like, No no. I know what’s best for you and you are going to hang out with me all day.
We’re going to do things together, all day long. And these people have no boundaries for like a parent child relationship. Or a friend to friend relationship. They tend to not see any seperation. They treat you as if you’re them. And you are one. And it can be really unhealthy. And really difficult for us to get out of these relationships. Because it’s so palpable. They’re everywhere. They are in all of our business. And these people can even share our business with other people. Because they feel it’s okay. Without going through us and making sure we’re okay with it. They can share personal information with others because, you know, We’re the same.
So I figured since I thought it was okay, you’d think it’s okay. Right. So there is no division. Now I hope this helps clear it up. I tried to break this down into sections, Because emotional abuse is this huge vast bucket of things that can happen to us. And if you are worried. Or you think that this has happened to you. The most important thing you can do, if you are under 18. Is speak up about it. Because emotional abuse is not something that you have to tolerate. And it’s something that is reportable. I’m a mandated reporter for things like this. Because, especially under the neglect. And the blaming and the shaming. And the enmeshment. The unhealthy relationships that parents can have with their children. Can be detrimental to us in the future. So the sooner you speak up and get support, the better.
Now if you are a survivor of this. I hope that you are seeking therapy. And you are getting your own support for this. Because we can overcome it. This doesn’t define who we are. Because this has happened to us. That doesn’t mean that our whole world is sucked into it. And that we’ll do this to other people. Or we’ll only be in abusive relationships. We can get through it. The more we talk about it. The more honest we are about it. And talking about the details. And how hurtful things were for us. The faster we will over come it