Leading Authority in Treatment of Narcissism and Emotional Abuse

How to Heal Emotional Abuse

How to Heal Emotional Abuse in Three Stages

Emotional abuse is a devastating experience that leaves deep scars on its victims. Healing from such trauma requires a thoughtful and structured approach. In this article, we will explore a program designed by Dr. David Hawkins, Director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute, that provides a pathway to recovery. Dr. Hawkins outlines a three-stage process on how to heal emotional abuse: uncovering, discovering, and recovering. Each stage plays a crucial role in healing and regaining one’s sense of self and well-being.

Understanding Emotional Abuse

Before delving into the healing stages, it is essential to understand the nature of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse involves manipulating and controlling another person through verbal, emotional, and psychological tactics. This form of abuse often leaves invisible wounds that are deeply ingrained in the victim’s psyche. The abuser may be narcissistic, lacking empathy and understanding, which exacerbates the harm caused. The journey to healing is challenging, but with the right guidance and support, it is possible to overcome the effects of emotional abuse.

Stage One: Uncovering

The first stage in Dr. Hawkins’ program is uncovering. This involves looking within oneself with compassion and awareness. Uncovering is about slowing down and paying close attention to your internal world. It is crucial to understand what has happened to you and how it has affected you. Here’s how you can navigate this stage:


Begin by asking yourself gentle questions: How am I? What has it been like to live with this person who has been emotionally abusive? These questions help you to acknowledge your feelings and experiences without judgment.

Becoming Aware

Awareness is key in the uncovering stage. It involves recognizing the patterns of abuse and their impact on your mental and emotional state. Take note of how you have been feeling and behaving in response to the abuse. This might include anxiety, depression, or a sense of worthlessness.

Compassionate Inquiry

Approach your past and present experiences with compassion. This means being kind to yourself as you explore painful memories and emotions. Understand that your reactions to the abuse are natural responses to an unnatural situation.

Stage Two: Discovering

Once you have begun to uncover the layers of your experiences, the next stage is discovering. This stage involves letting go of denial and defenses to fully comprehend the extent of the abuse and its effects. Discovering is about understanding what you have lost and how you have adapted to survive. Here are the key components of this stage:

Letting Go of Denial

Denial is a common defense mechanism that helps protect you from the full impact of abuse. However, to heal, you must let go of denial and face the reality of your situation. Acknowledge the control, criticism, and manipulation you have endured.

Understanding Self-Protective Mechanisms

During abuse, you may have developed self-protective mechanisms such as coping, adapting, and accommodating. While these mechanisms can be healthy in moderation, excessive reliance on them can become detrimental. Discover how these behaviors have shaped your responses and limited your sense of self.

Acknowledging the Toll

Recognize the toll that emotional abuse has taken on you. This includes the psychological and emotional damage, the erosion of self-esteem, and the loss of personal identity. Understanding this toll is a critical step in the healing process.

Stage Three: Recovering

The final stage in Dr. Hawkins’ program is recovering. This stage involves taking stock of your losses and making a commitment to reclaiming your life. Recovering is about celebrating your personhood and finding safe spaces to express yourself. Here’s how to approach this stage:

Taking Stock of Losses

Be honest with yourself about what you have lost due to the abuse. This might include time, opportunities, relationships, and parts of your identity. Acknowledging these losses is painful but necessary for healing.

Ending the Tiptoeing

Abuse often forces victims to tiptoe around their abusers to avoid conflict. As you recover, commit to ending this behavior. Reclaim your space and your right to exist without fear of retribution.

Celebrating Your Personhood

Find ways to celebrate who you are. Engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Surround yourself with people who support and celebrate you. This helps to rebuild your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Grieving and Moving Forward

Allow yourself to grieve the time and opportunities you have lost. Grieving is a natural part of the recovery process. However, also focus on moving forward. Set new goals for yourself and work towards achieving them step by step.

How to Heal Emotional Abuse?

Healing from emotional abuse is a long and challenging journey, but it is one that you can undertake with courage and determination. Dr. Hawkins’ program offers a structured approach to uncovering, discovering, and recovering. By following these stages, you can begin to heal the wounds of emotional abuse and reclaim your life.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Seek support from trusted friends, family, or professionals who can guide you along the way. With time, patience, and perseverance, you can overcome the effects of emotional abuse and embrace a future filled with hope and possibility.

To learn how we can help, reach out to us at (206) 219-0145 or info@marriagerecoverycenter.com to speak with a Client Care Specialist

Also read: Can a Narcissist Be a Nice Guy?

About Dr. Hawkins:

The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.

Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.

He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.

In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.


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