What is emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse is a persistent attempt to control another person using emotional reactions. The emotional abuser may see themselves as being insecure or as protecting their victim. They may not know that they are being abusive. Emotional abuse is not the occasional argument between partners, a difficult break-up or something once said that unintentionally hurt another person. Emotional abuse can occur between any two (or more) people, regardless of gender, including children, work colleagues, friends and family. This blog focuses upon emotional abuse within romantic or family relationships while our previous blog on bullying discusses similar experiences in the workplace or school. Emotional abuse can include, but is not limited to:
- Constant distrust, doubting and checking of the victim, for example, of text messages or physical whereabouts
- Treating their partner with disdain
- Name calling and criticism
- Shaming, blaming and belittling
- Withholding affection or social interaction by ignoring
- Attempting to isolate their partner from family and friends
- Threats to leave and / or commit suicide if their partner leaves them
- Frequent accusations of lying and / or cheating
- Controlling behaviours including attempting to control their partners choice of friends, clothes, hobbies, job etc
- Making the victim doubt their own judgement if they try to discuss their partners controlling behaviours
- Speaking badly of the victim to their friends and family
Initially perpetrators of emotional abuse may not know that they are being abusive and later may cycle through patterns of apology, romance and ‘good behaviour’ to ensure their partner stays. Perpetrators of emotional abuse may not know another way of being in relationships and if supported may be able to learn new ways of interacting.
Seeking help for emotional abuse
As with any form of abuse the most important step is to ensure your safety. Do not dismiss emotional abuse as ‘not as bad’ as physical or sexual abuse. Being abused emotionally can make you feel very alone, therefore, it is important to seek help from your friends, family or another network such as a support group.
If the perpetrator of the emotional abuse is able to acknowledge their part, then it may be helpful to attend couples counselling together. However, it may also be appropriate for you to seek professional help alone. Therapy sessions at Morency could help you to:
- Consider the impact of the abuse on your relationship and whether it is a relationship you want to maintain
- Consider your relationship patterns and develop new ways of relating to others
- Build your self-esteem
- Develop skills in building new social relationships (see our next blog)
- Consider the impact on your mood and anxiety and develop strategies to improve these
- Develop strategies for interacting with your abuser
- Acknowledge your own needs and develop ways of meetings these
If you would like to discuss emotional abuse, then call Dr Julie Hannan now on 07530 854530. In addition, Dr Julie Hannan specialises in Midlife issues and more information can be found at www.drjuliehannan.com.