Emotional abuse is a pervasive issue that often goes unnoticed or misunderstood. Victims of emotional abuse frequently face disbelief and skepticism when sharing their experiences. In a recent therapy session, a distressed woman pleaded, “Please believe me. Will you believe me?” This plea highlights the significant challenges emotional abuse victims encounter when seeking validation for their pain. Dr. David Hawkin will explore three reasons why people don’t believe emotional abuse and the urgent need for intervention.
1. Dismissal: The Lingering Echo of Unheard Voices
One of the primary reasons emotional abuse victims plea for belief is the prolonged dismissal they have endured. Dr. David Hawkins, director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute, emphasizes how victims are often overlooked and unheard. For an extended period, these individuals have faced responses like, “No, that didn’t happen,” or “You’re making it a problem.” Such dismissals perpetuate the cycle of silence and contribute to the victim’s struggle to be heard.
Victims of emotional abuse might seek validation desperately when they encounter someone who seems willing to listen. The constant dismissal they face from various sources, including clinics and individuals, makes it understandable why they pose the question, “Will you believe me?” When someone’s reality has been consistently invalidated, the urgency to be believed becomes a crucial aspect of their healing process.
2. Denial: Silencing the Victim’s Voice
Denial is a powerful weapon used by perpetrators of emotional abuse to silence their victims. The abuser denies the victim’s voice, claiming events never happened or manipulating the narrative to shift blame. This denial contributes to a sense of powerlessness for the victim, making it difficult for them to express their experiences truthfully.
When emotional abuse victims ask, “Will you believe me?” they are challenging the prevailing denial that has suppressed their voices. The denial of their experiences not only invalidates their pain but also erodes their sense of self. Acknowledging the victim’s reality becomes a crucial step in breaking free from the shackles of denial and initiating the healing process.
3. Domination: Power Dynamics in Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is not just about isolated incidents; it’s a pervasive pattern of domination, where the abuser exerts power over the victim. Dr. Hawkins emphasizes how emotional abuse involves arguing, rewriting history, and overpowering the victim. This domination is a key element of emotional abuse, leaving the victim voiceless and controlled.
When victims ask, “Will you believe me?” they are challenging the dominant power dynamics that have stifled their autonomy. Listening to their stories becomes an essential step in dismantling the structures of abuse. Recognizing the power imbalances inherent in emotional abuse is crucial for providing effective support and intervention.
The Urgency for Intervention
Dr. Hawkins stresses the urgency of intervening in situations involving emotional abuse. The dismissals, denials, and power dynamics require specialized treatment and understanding. While well-intentioned clinicians may want to help, without training in narcissistic and emotional abuse, they may miss the nuances of the victim’s experiences.
There is a critical need for professionals and support systems to be equipped with the knowledge and sensitivity required to address emotional abuse effectively. Intervention involves not only believing the victim but also providing targeted assistance that breaks the cycle of abuse. Emotional abuse is a complex issue that demands a multidimensional approach to ensure the well-being of the victim.
3 Reasons People Don’t Believe Emotional Abuse
Believing victims of emotional abuse is the first step toward breaking the chains of silence and fostering healing. The persistent dismissal, denial, and domination experienced by victims make their plea for belief an urgent call for intervention. As a society, it is crucial to recognize the signs of emotional abuse and respond with empathy and understanding. By acknowledging the gravity of emotional abuse and offering specialized support, we can create a safer environment for victims to heal and reclaim their voices.
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Also read: Why is Nobody Talking About Emotional Abuse?
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.