Healing from Emotional Abuse
In many ways it can be considered even worse than physical abuse because it is so covert and unidentifiable. Emotional abuse tends to fall “under the radar.” Many victims don’t even realize that they are in an abusive relationship and they often suffer in silence, slowly losing themselves in the process.
Perhaps you are in an emotionally abusive relationship and don’t even know it. Consider these three questions to see if you are in an emotionally unhealthy relationship:
- Does your partner EVER say the following type of comments to you when you make a mistake or “break a rule?” – “Don’t worry about it.” “It’s not the end of the world.” “Everything’s going to be fine.” Or, better yet, “Here, let me help you.
”A “No” answer means you could have a problem. Chances are, if your partner is emotionally abusive, he/she acts like everything and anything is cause for concern, disgust, blame, and condemnation. Dealing with a person you are close to who is not able to offer you safety and soothing when you make a “mistake” (and I use quotes because to abusers mistakes can be fabricated out of thin air) can take its toll on you in the long run.
- What happens when you say, “No,” to your partner? Does he or she punish you in some way – either overtly or covertly? A “Yes” answer indicates a problem. Healthy people may not like being told, “No,” but they can maturely handle their disappointment without hurting others.
- Does your partner blame you for problems he or she creates? Does he or she take ownership for the problems in your relationship? A “No” answer indicates a problem. Abusers do not take responsibility and they like to blame others. When you have been the recipient of blame and accusations for a long period of time, it takes a toll on your sense of well-being.
This is what emotional abuse does to a person. When you have been subjected to this type of interpersonal trauma, over time, you become depressed and anxious and lose your sense of feeling valuable in the world.
But you can heal. Here’s how.
- Be yourself. Do not change who you are for another person. Do as Brene Brown recommends, “Refuse to hustle for your worthiness.”
- Do not allow emotional abusers or narcissists to define your value. If you let an emotionally destructive person define you or your value, you will be destroyed. Don’t allow that to happen.
- Find your voice. Do not hide yourself any more for fear of being “bad” or “wrong” or “in trouble.”
- Stop defending yourself. Emotional abusers need to find your flaws and make you bad. Let them. When you can stop defending yourself you have learned to accept this reality. Think of it this way – tell yourself that your partner has the right to believe or say whatever he or she wants. It’s his/her choice to believe whatever he needs to believe about you. Let him/her. It is very liberating to allow someone else the freedom.
- Understand it’s not about you. Emotional abuse is about the abuser. While emotional abuse strategies are all unique to the individuals involved, abusers, themselves, all tend to be cut from the same cloth. They are all about hurting another person and positioning themselves in the “superior” position.
- Stop trying to get them to see. – They are not going to see what they are doing, nor are they going to “see” you for who you are. So, stop trying.
- Stop trying to get others to see. When you have been invalidated for so long it’s as if you are starving for validation. You just want someone else to see what you are going through and see you as a person. You feel so alone with the abuse that you want others to validate you. This can be done, but one key to healing is learning to forgo the need of convincing either the abuser or others of your abuse. You are the only person who really needs to see it.
- Take action. Change the dynamics and refuse to cooperate with the current “terms of engagement.” Your abuser wants you to feel afraid and bad. This way, he or she can feel smug and superior and control you. Once you realize this you can take action to change the dynamics. Don’t talk about what you want to change, take action and do something different.
- Take care of yourself. Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, and spiritually. That is, get enough sleep. Eat right. Exercise. Write in a journal. Pray. Join a support group. Do whatever you need to do be good to yourself.
- Seek support. Join a support group for abuse victims and find a good therapist who understands how to heal from abusive relationships.
Life is too short to spend it being destroyed by others. You have personal rights, which include the right to be treated with dignity, the right to be yourself, and the right to have freedom to make your own choices.
Do not waste any more of your precious life waiting or hoping for your abuser to change, because chances are that will NEVER happen. Take matters into your own hands, and give yourself permission to live well.
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Stines, S. (2017). Healing from Emotional Abuse. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 17, 2018, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/recovery-expert/2017/07/healing-from-emotional-abuse/