What is EMOTIONAL Abuse? (Part 2)

& they all hurt my feelings!

PREVIOUS: Emotional Abuse (Part 1)

SITE: Types of Emotional Abuse 


Emotional REACTIONS to Emotional Abuse (E.A.)

✶ The most important thing to remember is that ALL categories of abuse cause emotional damage. We need  to notice how those actions or words make us feel emotionally – as in NOT happy!

– No matter how much we know about our issues, without doing deeper FoO work many ACoAs have a hard time even recognizing familiar abuses as they’re happening, much less feeling an emotional sting. If we’re still numb from old pain & lack of self-care, it’s very hard to connect depression & S-H with being exposed to E.A.

• It’s as if we were wearing that huge white medical collar that vets sometimes put on dogs/cats – we can see over the top, but not the knife in someone’s hand as they stick it in our gut – especially if they’re smiling!
We may feel some pain, but don’t understand that it’s truly coming from outside of ourselves. As trained victims, we always assume that if we’re hurting it a sure sign there’s something wrong with us. NOT SO!

OVER – When we do over-react emotionally to a person or event, the tricky part is being able to over-reactseparate what just happened in the present from the accumulated suffering of past abuse. Often it IS a combination of the two, in layers – like when someone only ‘stepped on your toe’;

It feels like the foot has been cut off & we’re left bleeding life, because of all the times our family did the same thing to us.
Whenever we have an intense reaction we know “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”. We can validate our fear, outrage, sadness…. while still staying in the present moment & seeing reality. SO –

We Can:
• double check if something was actually an abusive situation – or are we reading into it (projection) because it’s so similar to what was repeatedly done to us as kids.
⚙︎ ASK: :Did this call for such an intense reaction? Do I feel like I’m being stomped on, discarded like garbage or my life is being threatened – when all someone did was not text immediately back, looked at me ‘funny’’, didn’t say hello , told me what to do…..

⎈ ‘Checking’ includes asking someone we trust for an evaluation of the event, or going back to the original person & asking what they meant by ___, or why they did ____. Whether they tell us the truth or not, many times their answer will be surprising – it’s not what we thought they meant, because it had nothing to do with us. It’s important to ask.

We Can also:work abuse

• identify unpleasant or inappropriate words & actions that did actually happen, instead of ignoring the event or how we feel. For some ACoAs this may take outside validation too, including comparing lists of ‘My Rights’ against Abusive Behaviors

✶ All Over & Under-reactions come from our WIC or PP. Appropriate ones come from our UNIT.
Learning to tell the difference between actual abuse & our projections or paranoia comes from internalizing the healing of Recovery work, accumulated information about present-day reality & validation of our feelings & experiences, via meetings, reading, healers & therapists.

a. Their Reactions
Perps has drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts – WITH
— unpredictable, irrational changes in reaction to you or your normal behaviors
— will say one thing one day & the opposite the next,
— like what you do one day & hate it the next… SO: mood swings
• being maddeningly inconsistent, you never know what’s expected of you
• you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop
• you have to stay hyper-vigilant so you know when to ‘duck’

b. Constant Chaos – THEY
• often starts arguments, disagreement, creates conflicts
• are ‘addicted to drama’ causing endless upheaval for everyone
• make promises you depend on, but rarely follow thru
• change plans or ‘rules’ at the last minute, without informing you
• keep you off-balance, never knowing what’s real or ‘safe’

NEXT: Emotional Abuse (Part 3)


Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 12.05.31 AM 

I need you but you’re too close – I can’t breathe

Bs – Healthy Source ( #2)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


1. Normal Development – Stable Core (previous 2 posts)

2. ACoAs
Unfortunately, growing up – ACoAs did not originally have that all-important stable core to rely on, so weren’t able to form our own, because of:
• being overstimulated by chaos, emotional volatility & conflict
• being over-controlled, expected to be perfect, judged harshly
• not having role models for self-esteem & appropriate Bs
• not being loved & supported unconditionally

a. Wounded Adults
• Many un-recovered PARENTS are symbiotically enmeshed with their children, to cover their own FoA – ie. both the adults & the kids have similar immature mental drama & temperamental intensity, so they overlap each other, which is emotionally abandoning & terrifying for the children

• These parents are coming from their WIC* ego state, so have:
— weak or no Adult & missing Loving Parent aspects
— weak or rigid boundaries, overlapping child’s feelings, as if the child were an extension of themselves
— a narrow range of emotions available, w/ few nuances
— the focus on their addictions, bad relationships, financial worries, depression, mental illness, relatives, sickness ….
— often changed the rules arbitrarily or made them unreachable, so no matter how hard we tried to obey, it was inevitably going to be wrong – & then got attacked & punished! We could ‘never win’.

✶ As kids, this kept us off-balance so we wouldn’t become independent (& eventually be ‘separate’), which requires being sure of oneself

Al-Anon visual: the alcoholic has their arms around the bottle & the co-dependent has their arms around the alcoholic!
In these households, children are just pawns to be used & burdens to be neglected, ( Games Alcoholics Play’)

b. Limiting our Emotionsnegate Es
• In an alcoholic, narcissistic family, one or both parents limit or repress the type of emotional responses allowed the children, who are expected to act like adults, both mentally & emotionally, long before maturation.
ACoAs were blamed for not behaving ‘right’,  even thought we were not experienced yet in social etiquette or subtleties, didn’t have enough motor co-ordination, weren’t old enough to actually act like adults!….

EXP: Beth was a pretty little girl who grew up in church. On one occasion her mother was at the dais addressing a group of ladies. Beth was left all alone in the front pew & expected to sit for 2 hours like a perfectly groomed doll. But she’s s normal 4-year-old – bored, lonely & fidgeting. Her mother was annoyed at her child’s ‘misbehavior’, confined it would make her look bad.

She gave Beth ‘the look‘, who immediately froze – terrified – knowing the dire consequences of displeasing, but quick obedience saved her this time. For years afterward her mother proudly liked to tell how the group complemented her, afterward, on having such a well-behaved child – without the mother or anyone else having a clue of the intense fear that generated it!

• We learned very early that our emotions & behavior had global impact – they effected the ‘gods’ badly. Our parents let us know in various ways that we harmed them just by being ourselves (kids)
EXP: A mother repeated remarked : “You’ll be the death of me yet!”

blackmail• Many ACoAs experienced being emotionally blackmailed  controlled using fear, obligation or guiltOur parents’ narcissism & lack of boundaries made it easy for them to:
— treat us the same way they had been – the ‘kick the dog syndrome’, ie. passing on their rage at their parents neglect & abuse
— project their self-hate onto us – they couldn’t face that they were considered ‘bad’ children’ so they made us bad instead – to preserve their fragile self-image

EXPs: “If you loved me…. I made that just for you…. If you don’t do your chores, dad will get really mad at me….
BOOK: “Emotional Blackmail” & “Toxic Parents“~ Susan Forward

NEXT: ACoAs & Bs (Part 2)