I sometimes sit and think that emotional abuse is so much worse that physical abuse, even though there is scarring with both. Scars on the outside and then the tremendous scarring on the inside, that can’t be healed with ointment and a bandage. How does one’s heart heal? How does one’s self-esteem get rebuilt? How do you get back to the person that you once were. With physical abuse it maybe happens once or twice a week and unfortunately emotional/verbal abuse is a constant thing. It doesn’t ask for a time of day and neither do you see it coming.
Generally emotional abuse happens in intimate relationships, but I have seen it in friendship relationships and even relationships between parents and their children. Often so to say, it is also the man in the relationship that is the abuser and the woman is the victim. We have tried avoiding a friendship between our daughter and a boy that went to school with her, because we are fully aware of the fact that this child is involved with drugs and other criminal offences. She had to tell him the other day that her parents won’t allow the friendship. Shortly after she had sent the message, he replied saying that he was going to cut and kill himself, because he had no friends. This is emotional abuse at its best.
So instead of everyone carrying on the way that they are, my daughter told me that she was going to go and ride her bicycle, only to meet up with him and make sure that he doesn’t do what he threatened to do. Needless to say, my daughter got into a huge amount of trouble and he just continued being okay.
There are so many forms of emotional abuse. Threatening! You don’t do that to anyone! Bullying! You often see this happening in schools with children and 90% of the time, the child that is being bullied doesn’t even want to go to school, but are forced to face that every day of their life except on weekends. How is a child supposed to focus on their school work under these circumstances? Constant Criticism! My theory is if you tell someone every day that they are nothing but a fat slob that is what they will become. If you tell someone that they aren’t good enough for anybody, they will always end up hopping from one relationship to another.
Let us not forget the other forms of abuse, such as intimidation, shaming and manipulation. Why would you want to emotionally abuse someone? So that you can control them? So that you could have a little puppet on a string? Why would anybody want any form of relationship, only to want to change the other person on the receiving end to something that they are not?
Experts reckon that the abuser generally abuses their victim because they have childhood wounds and insecurities that they hasn’t dealt with, possibly because they were abused themselves. In other words, over time they have never learnt any healthy coping mechanisms or how to have healthy and good relationships, because they clearly have not dealt with their problems. These people always feel anger, hurt and completely powerless in life. Experts also say that there is a high rate of personality disorders in abusers, such as borderline personality disorder. What makes matters worse is when emotional abuse is followed by physical abuse.
My daughter was dating a boy that was verbally abusing her manipulating her mind to the full extent. Eventually I started noticing the effect that it had on her. She went from being an extrovert, to being reserved. She had seemed so lifeless, but yet claimed to have been happy. We often sat and spoke and I explained everything in detail as to what I was seeing, yet even though they aren’t together anymore, she still can’t seem to comprehend how unhealthy that relationship was and how much it had changed her.
Every time that the discussion comes up, she would tell me that he loved her. She had developed a coping mechanism of denial in order for her to deal with the stress. Needless to say she had recently entered into another relationship, where the situation is rather similar to the first. This boy would call her names and doesn’t want her to talk to anybody, not even girlfriends that she had. He had become insecure in their relationship, which turned to paranoia and recently it had appeared as though he was becoming extremely possessive.
On the day of their break up, he had called her a coward, because of the fact that he was argumentative and she didn’t want to argue back. All along, this was hidden from me and I wasn’t aware of anything that was taking place. I had just seen on the weekend that she seemed rather upset the whole time. As if dealing with bipolar/depression isn’t enough, she has to deal with being run down the whole times.
After talking to all the children that was around whilst this was happening, I was extremely hurt, disappointed and angry. Surely you can’t claim to love my child and then do this to her. I had been sitting with her in the room last night and I asked what triggered the argument earlier in the day. Where did it start? According to her she had told him that she wanted to find a part time work. He had in turn become so angry and told her that if they are to be together, that she would never work, because they will have absolutely no time to spend together.
Living like this would just make her more depressed! This all after my husband sat him down and told him to stop being so jealous and insecure all the time. My daughter is the one being affected in this situation. I am really sad that things didn’t work out well for them, but at the end of the day, I do think that my daughter made the right decision in ending the relationship.
In the interim I have found 30 signs emotional abuse on the internet and thought this would be an interesting place to share my findings:
- They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
- They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
- They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
- They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
- They try to controlyou and treat you like a child.
- They correct or chastise you for your behaviour.
- You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
- They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
- They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
- They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
- They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
- They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.
- They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
- They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.
- They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
- They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
17. The repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
- They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
- They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.
- They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
- They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
- They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
- They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
- They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
- They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
- They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
- They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.
- They share personal information about you with others.
- They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.
- They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.
Unfortunately the problem won’t really be resolved, unless you recognize that you are being abused. This is what I have been telling my daughter over and over again. Nothing is ever easy in life, I know it. It doesn’t take a lot of courage to finally put your foot down and say that enough is enough. I myself had been in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship prior to marrying my husband.
I was constantly battered and bruised. One day he had gone out fishing with his friends all night and when he returned, I had been accused of all sorts of things. He phoned my mother to come over without my knowledge and when I came walking down the street, I saw him sitting in the car talking to her. I knew in that moment what he was doing and I was extremely hurt and angry.
When I got to the side of the car, I asked him what he was doing and he said that he was telling my mother what I did the night before with his best friend. The embarrassment couldn’t be explained, but I saw red. I punched him, knowing that he wouldn’t lift his hand to my while my mother was around. I opened the door and just carried on and on, until I eventually had him on the grass outside the car. All I saw the entire time was all the times that I had been hit…… All the times that I had been accused of things…..
This wasn’t in my nature to be like this, but yet it felt absolutely liberating knowing that I stood up for myself and that I finally showed him that I can’t go around doing this to people. I know that if I was strong enough to take a stand, anybody else can do it to. Nobody deserves being treated like that ever. I took my life back!
There is so much other help out there, if victims are too afraid to take the step themselves. I do however agree that violence doesn’t always stop with violence and that it is also not appropriate for a female to resort to something like that, but unless you are in a situation like that, you will never fully understand how someone just snaps.
Do I believe that an abuser can change? No, I don’t. Why? Well because of the fact that the first seven years of a child’s life is when they are being formed. It is very difficult for someone to break old habits. Just like someone that smokes, takes drugs or drink. Yet there are people that think that they could change their behaviour if they really want to and acknowledge how destructive they are.
I always tell people in relationships like that, that they have to put themselves first. Stop always trying to please the person that is doing this to you! People don’t realize that they do not have to put up with this at all. And another good tip is never to argue back, just like my mother always told me. Rather walk away.
I wish there was more that I could do for people in situations like that. Women are stronger than what they give themselves credit for though. You are only as weak as what you allow yourself to be.