What is EMOTIONAL Abuse? (Part 1)

after being with that person!

PREVIOUS: Grandiosity vs Normal

BOOK: “Co-dependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls” ~ Robert Burney

REVIEW posts on Emotions

How others treat us is about them (their damage or health).
AND –  How we react to others is about us (our wounds or Recovery!)

“Emotional abuse is the foundation of all other types. It’s the most damaging part of physical, sexual, mental….  trauma done to our heart & soul, the way we’re betrayed by the people we love & trust.  It’s is a devastating, debilitating mutilation of our essence – the deepest lasting wound of any abuse .” (MORE….)
Co-dependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls” ~ Robert Burney

• E.A. is also sometimes referred to as Psychological or Mental Abuse, divided into Verbal Aggression, Dominant and Jealous Behaviors – by the “Conflict Tactics Scale”.
Unlike sexual or physical mistreatment, which can cause lasting trauma with only one event, E.A. comes from repeated exposure. E.A. is :
— anything that causes fear by intimidation (US Justice Dept)
pulling hair— motivated by urges for “power & dyscontrol”** (Health Canada)

**Dyscontrol : “A pattern of abnormal, episodic or frequently uncontrollable social behavior, of repeated acts of violent aggression in an otherwise normal person, markedly out of proportion to events that provoked it, which are caused by brain disorders OR substance abuse”

E.A. comes in many guises, obvious or subtle. It’s violence experienced in any relationship which is just as damaging as physical assaults, if not more so, because it goes to the core of who we are as human beings. (Wikipedia)
Many emotional abusers operate under the guise of “teaching, advising, correcting, and/or guiding”, & therefore fly under the radar, spreading their poison year after year.

“Emotional violence is another kind of abuse … not about words, because Perpetrators don’t always resort to using the verbal club, but rather an untraceable poison……
They may in fact, speak very kind words to you, and so – to everyone else – will seem nothing but supportive.  Their covert abuse is administered in small, cunning ways over time.  So the impact is gradual, not immediately visible.”
~ from “THIS IS HOW” Augusten Burroughs
E.A. can be very difficult to identify because:
a. very often there are no outward signs, such as physical scars or broken bones – ‘only’ breaking of the spirit!
It includes the use of coercion, insults, neglect, threats …. to control another person, who loses (or never gains) self-esteem & the freedom to grow.
Victims of E.A. blame themselves for the mistreatment, & their S-H makes them cling to perpetrators, staying because they believe they have nowhere else to go, & no one else will want them.

b. it’s so common in our culture that we don’t consider it a problem. Alice Miller’s “For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child Rearing & the Roots of Violence” (1980) describes this issue. Read Review .
And her “Banished Knowledge” book is about how we’re taught from early on to ignore being treated badly (T.) & how that feels (E.) Read Review.   People who are emotionally hurtful are everywhere, & are usually oblivious to the effect they have on their Victim(s).

Perpetrators (P)  includes people who:
• don’t consider our personality when interacting to us (only their own)
• make a judgmental or belittling comment to us in front of others
• only talk & think about themselves (no room for us)
• tease us using things they know we’re sensitive about
• tell us what to do, how to think, how to feel
• try to make us take care of them, make us feel guilty, act needy…..
• try to fix us with action-suggestions, when we only need empathy

ALSO, the people around the P’s target often validate pubic humiliation & thoughtless or cruel remarks by laughing, as if the mean comment was clever & amusing. It’s a way to cheer the perpetrator on – long as it’s not being done to them! This can come from siblings, school mates, co-workers, club members…
When we are the target – we feel terribly alone, hurt & angry.

NEXT: Emotional Abuse (Part 2)

8 thoughts on “What is EMOTIONAL Abuse? (Part 1)

  1. Someone close to me does something minor and unintentional, and I go apeshit on him.  What’s that about?  Apparently, I’m reacting to past emotional abuse. . . .You say: “When we do over-react emotionally to a person or event, the tricky part is being able to separate what just happened in the present from the accumulated suffering of past abuse….  (Read more at HEAL & GROW for ACoAs)


    • I hope you can figure out what button he’s pushing in you. What in you family – or school years – does it remind you of?

      What do you ‘hear’ (subtext) when he does that thing? Such as: That you’re stupid, bad, have to take care of him / that he’s incompetent, immature, unavailable…? Remember: “All roads lead to Abandonment” so whatever the button, you’re feeling abandoned by his behavior, & regardless of his intention

      Liked by 1 person

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