What is emotional abuse

Nothing is more damaging to your confidence and self-esteem than being in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Marie-France Hirigoyen described emotional abuse as being a “virtual murder of the soul.” Others have described it as being something which “robbed me of my childhood” or which “killed something inside me.”

Unlike physical abuse, which rears its ugly head in dramatic outbursts, emotional abuse can be more insidious and elusive. In some cases, neither the abuser nor the victim are fully aware it’s happening.

The most obvious scenario for emotional abuse is in an intimate relationship in which a man is the abuser and the woman is the victim. However, a variety of studies show 85% of abusers are male and 15% are female.http://www.refuge.org.uk/about-domestic-violence/domestic-violence-and-gender/ In fact, emotional abuse can occur in any relationship — between parent and child, in friendships, and with relatives.

So what is emotional abuse? It involves a regular pattern of verbal offense, threatening, bullying, and constant criticism, as well as more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming and manipulation. Emotional abuse is used to control and subjugate the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven’t dealt with — perhaps as a result of being abused themselves.

They didn’t learn healthy coping mechanisms or how to have positive, healthy relationships. Instead, they feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless.

Male and female abusers tend to have high rates of personality disorders including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Although emotional abuse doesn’t always lead to physical abuse, physical abuse is almost always preceded and accompanied by emotional abuse.

The victim of the abuse quite often doesn’t see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress. But the effects of long-term emotional abuse can cause severe emotional trauma in the victim, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Below are ten behaviours commonly displayed by emotional abusers but this list is by no means exclusive.

  1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
  2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
  3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
  4. In order to deflect their abusive remarks they accuse you of being over sensitive.
  5. They treat you like a child and try and control you.
  6. They correct or chastise you for your behaviour.
  7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
  8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
  9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
  10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.

Hypnotherapy, mixed with psychotherapy, can help to undo the damage you suffered. It can begin to help you to unravel all those years of low self-esteem. It can build self-acceptance and self-compassion. It can help you to realise that the past was important but does not have to shape your present and future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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