Emotional abuse is not something that is often talked about, but it is real and very destructive. We define emotional abuse as a pattern of defensive behavior used to gain and maintain power and control over a partner. This pattern of behavior includes constant criticism, humiliation, and dismissiveness of another’s thoughts and feelings. These patterns of manipulation and intimidation lead to the loss of a person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth, which further results in significant anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even suicidal feelings.
Long-Term Emotional Abuse
I often hear women say, “I don’t feel safe or heard in my marriage.” When I ask them to explain, sometimes it’s hard for them to articulate what is happening. Why is that? Because a victim of emotional abuse has been told repeatedly that they are the problem, that they are making up their concerns, that they are the perpetrators of abuse.
Over time, repeatedly occurring emotional abuse leaves the victim feeling confused, unsafe, and alone. While physical abuse leaves visible marks, emotional abuse leaves emotional scars that no one can see. This invisible aspect makes it all the more difficult for victims to recognize and speak out about the abuse.
Three Aspects of Emotional Abuse
This is the first of a series of articles in which we will discuss in much more detail three aspects of emotional abuse and its impact on the victim. We’re going to explore why perpetrators of abuse often lack empathy and how this lack of empathy, along with overt and covert abusive behaviors, causes victims to feel unsafe and unheard. We’ll discuss how victims are slowly stripped of their identity and sense of value.
These are the three aspects of emotional abuse the series will cover:
- An assault on identity, worth, and value
- An assault on perception of reality
- Use of anger as a weapon of control
Focusing on these central aspects of emotional abuse, you will have a greater understanding of this hidden problem and feel empowered to seek change. We cannot heal from something unless we name it, own it, and set upon a clear path of healing.
Help for Healing
We at The Marriage Recovery Center have developed a comprehensive path of healing for individuals and couples whose marriages are impacted by narcissistic and emotional abuse. Based on our Healing Together philosophy, men learn to recognize and dismantle their abusive behaviors in a program called The Core, while the women go on their own healing journey in a corollary program called Redeemed. Finally, when appropriate, we bring couples together for intensive couples counseling.
To get started on your path to healing contact our Client Care Team at (206) 219-0145 or firstname.lastname@example.org.