What is Emotional Abuse and How to Survive It

Just like physical abuse, emotional abuse is extremely harmful to a victim’s life and personality and oftentimes precedes physical abuse. Emotional abuse is primarily a verbal form of abuse and can sometimes even be used by the abuser in conjunction with physical or other forms of abuse.

What If You Are A Victim of Emotional Abuse?

Regardless of who the abuser is or their “reasons” for dishing out such abuse, nobody deserves to be emotionally abused. If you’re being targeted by abusers, rest assured that it’s not your fault. Such behavior and abuse can lead you to an emotional breakdown and can have a severe impact on your overall quality of life. This means that it’s essential for you to know how to handle the routine abuse without distracting yourself from your day to day life. Read on to find out more about emotional abuse and how you can cope with it.

What is Emotional Abuse?

If you often feel insulted, hurt, and become very careful and sensitive over certain matters, then it is possible that you are being emotionally abused.

As a victim of emotional abuse, your abusers will make you feel low and convince you that you’re worthless - despite the fact that you’ve done nothing wrong. The whole point of emotional abuse is to play on a person’s emotions and psychology, verbally tormenting them and manipulating their emotions in a way that makes them feel hopeless and worthless. Apart from verbal manipulation, abusive behavior may also include verbal humiliation and bullying. An abuser will typically follow a pattern of behavior that demeans the victim’s self-esteem, dignity and self-image. Following the ill-treatment, the emotional abuse victim falls into a downward spiral, feeling depressed, hopeless, and in extreme cases suicidal.

How Do You Identify Emotional Abuse?

It is not easy to identify emotional abuse, especially if it’s done by somebody close to you. Emotional abuse can be indirect and crafty, or evident and devious. However it occurs, emotional abuse can serve to lower your self-confidence and leave you feeling terrified and intimidated. Occasionally, emotional abuse can even leave its victims in a depressed and mentally imbalanced state for the rest of their lives.

Emotional abuse can come from absolutely anyone you come into contact with, including your spouse/romantic partner, your boss, work colleague, business partner, caretaker or even your own parents. Whoever they may be, your abuser will try to isolate and control you through their verbal manipulations; their determination and insulting behavior can be seen and felt in their words and actions.

An abuser may typically be seen unnecessarily arguing with their victims, or getting upset at anything they do. In some cases, an abuser may even pass hurtful comments about their victim to their friends or family.

An abuser can emotionally abuse you in a number of different ways such as:

  • Humiliating you at home, in public, or even in your workplace
  • Making unreasonable demands
  • Expecting you to drop everything and do what they demand of you
  • Criticizing you for not completing tasks according to their standards
  • Mocking your appearance, your style of work, or your personality
  • Regularly criticizing you on things like your appearance, the things you talk about, or the way you act
  • Constantly shaming you for your habits or personality
  • Continuously blaming you for your personal behavior, even if you haven’t done anything wrong
  • Verbally abusing you in front of others
  • Ridiculing you for the choices you make
  • Never appreciating your efforts to please them
  • Intimidating you to fulfil their demands
  • Mocking you for helping others
  • Demeaning your self-respect
  • Discouraging you from meeting new people or working

Apart from the above, they might also check your email, phone, and social media profiles without your consent. Additionally, it’s not unheard of for emotional abusers to control your finances and threaten to cut you off completely if you so much as disagree with them or even blame you for their own shortcomings - making you feel guilty and embarrassed.

Even though you might be fully aware of the signs of mental and emotional abuse, the fact that you’re being abused by a close friend or a loved one, someone whom you’d never had thought would turn into an abuser, might come as a shock – so much so that you’d miss even the most obvious signs of emotional abuse.

If you are unsure of whether you are in an abusive relationship or not, you need to stop and think about how you feel when you communicate with those around you. Think about how you feel when meeting and interacting with certain people and friends in your life. If talking to or meeting someone leaves you feeling dejected, hurt, misunderstood, depressed, or worthless, then it is very likely that you are a victim of emotional abuse.

How Does Emotional Abuse Affect Its Victims?

Long term effects of emotional abuse can be devastating and, in some cases, life-threatening. If it’s not caught and dealt with in time, victims of emotional abuse can end up suffering from lifelong psychological problems. Below are some of the issues frequently faced by victims of mental and emotional abuse:

  • Declining overall health
  • Low self-confidence
  • A growing number of physical and psychological problems
  • Fear of sharing anything with partners, friends, and family
  • Constant feelings of guilt
  • Feelings of isolation
  • A fear of abandonment by people close to them
  • Difficulty forming new relationships
  • Difficulty concentrating

How to Cope with Emotional Abuse

As a victim of emotional abuse, your first step on your road to recovery should be to learn to trust yourself. Remember that you have every right to live a dignified life. No one has the right to demean you and if anyone does, then you have every right to free yourself from humiliation and choose your own path.

Stop Feeling Guilty: No one deserves to be emotionally abused. Never try and explain yourself to your abuser. By doing this, you might think that you’re resolving the problem, but the chances of this happening without professional counselling are highly unlikely.

Distance Yourself: It is always best to disassociate yourself from your abuser, regardless of your relationship with them. Make it clear that enough is enough, and that they need to stop taking you for granted. Seek professional help if you’re faced with emotional repercussions following your decision.

Establish Boundaries: Avoid any kind of argument or discussions with your abuser. If they try and approach you or elicit a response from you, it’s best to just ignore them and move on.

Give Yourself a Break: When you’re feeling low, it’s a good idea to reach out to family and friends for support. Don’t forget that you can always seek professional counselling to help you recover faster.

Relationships involving children or shared common assets might be difficult to break away from. In such cases, it’s advised that you seek legal assistance to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Hire Professional Help

Professional therapists and counsellors can help you heal faster from the effects of emotional abuse, mental trauma, psychological problems, and verbal abuse.

In cases where physical violence is involved, it’s always advised that you contact 911 or your local emergency services to help diffuse the situation.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can also help when there’s a threat of physical violence and can put you in contact with shelters and various useful services across the US. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.


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