This post was updated on Nov 29, 2022
Not all forms of abuse can be easily recognized. One of the most subtle is known as emotional or mental abuse. As a way to manipulate, control, and wound, emotional abuse can have a highly damaging effect on mental health and overall well-being.
By learning more about the various forms of emotional abuse, you will be better able to recognize its signs and protect yourself and your loved ones. If, however, you believe you are already in an unhealthy relationship, reaching out to a professional or going to a codependency retreat may provide you with the resources and support you need to break the cycle of abuse.
In this article, we will examine the signs and effects of emotional abuse, as well as provide insightful information on dealing with abusive behaviors.
What Are The Types of Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse can take numerous forms. It serves as a way to control and manipulate through criticism, embarrassment, blame, or shame. An emotionally abusive relationship can, for example, involve consistent patterns of abusive behaviors that aim to undermine your self-esteem and overall mental health.
This form of abuse can occur in all kinds of relationships, including those between romantic partners, partners and children, co-workers, and friends. Due to its often insidious nature, emotional abuse can be particularly subtle and difficult to recognize, both by the individual subjected to it and any third parties involved.
If you’d like to raise your awareness of emotional abuse, you can look out for any of the following signs:
- Verbal abuse can mean constant criticism, yelling, swearing, and biting insults.
- Rejecting the ideas, opinions, and thoughts of others.
- Gaslighting, that is, making you doubt your thoughts, feelings, and sanity through manipulation.
- Putting you down, publicly embarrassing you, or calling you names.
- Trying to cause fear by intimidating or threatening you.
- Isolating you from your family and friends or stopping you from doing the things you love.
- Controlling, withholding, or stealing your money, or trying to prevent you from studying or working.
- Trivializing your concerns, withholding affection, and giving you the silent treatment.
- Being possessive, jealous, or controlling.
Of course, these are just some of the forms emotional abuse can take. Everybody’s situation is unique, and you or someone you know may have an entirely different experience with this kind of abuse.
What Are The Psychological Effects Of Emotional Abuse?
Ongoing emotional abuse can result in a wide range of effects, some of which can be nearly invisible. Overall, emotional abuse can cause feelings of worthlessness, self-loathing, and self-doubt. These effects can linger and cause long-term harm to your sense of self, as well as result in a number of health problems, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more.
Unfortunately, this form of abuse can make it difficult for the individual to leave the relationship. Instead, they may remain trapped out of fear or belief that they aren’t good enough for anybody else.
The emotional toll of this form of abuse can cause various short term effects, including:
- Confusion and fear
- Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
- Shame and guilt
- Difficulties concentrating
- Racing heartbeat, and more
With prolonged emotional abuse, you may also develop:
- Chronic pain
- Persistent guilt
- Social withdrawal
How Do You Break The Cycle Of Emotional Abuse?
Recognizing emotional abuse is the first step towards dealing with it. If you are honest about your relationships and any abusive patterns that may be at play, you can start taking control of your life. Here are some tips:
- Put yourself first:
This means taking care of your own mental and physical needs first and foremost. Try to stop worrying about pleasing others and especially the individual inflicting the abuse.
- Create healthy boundaries:
Try to set better boundaries between yourself and the person, making sure to follow through on them. Keep in mind that this can be difficult, yet highly effective.
- Don’t blame yourself:
Being in an abusive relationship can cause feelings of worthlessness and severe guilt. Remember that you aren’t the problem and aren’t to blame for the abuse.
- Try not to engage:
Engaging with an abusive individual is often futile. Don’t try to explain, rationalize, or make apologies. Instead, try to keep your distance and avoid engaging in arguments or even better, try to walk away from the situation altogether.
- Don’t try to fix them:
It is not your responsibility to change the individual who has abusive tendencies. Try to remind yourself that you have no control over their actions and choices.
- Find a good support network:
Your friends and family can be of immense help if you are dealing with an abusive relationship. Talk to someone you trust and be open to receiving support and advice. You can also speak to a professional coach about your experiences.
- Devise an exit plan:
If you feel like your relationship isn’t likely to change, it may be best to simply leave. While making such a decision can be difficult, it is often the best way to avoid long-term harm to your mental and physical health.
Each experience with emotional abuse is unique. Try to speak about your experiences with trusted friends, family members, therapist, or a PIVOT coach/ to determine the best course of action in your situation. Opening up to your loved ones can give you a whole new perspective and help you begin to make a decision for your own well-being.
Find Support And Guidance At A Compassionate Codependent Relationship Retreat
At PIVOT, we are fully dedicated to helping individuals and couples heal from their emotional wounds and build healthy foundations for their relationships. Whether you are dealing with a toxic relationship or need help regulating your emotions, our tailor-made relationship coaching sessions can provide you with the tools and resources you need.
What’s more, we also have a range of insightful retreats and workshops designed to help facilitate meaningful and positive behavioral change. Because change is possible.
Get in touch with us today and learn how to become a healthy, balanced adult. Call now.