Are You Being Emotionally Abused?

Are you being emotionally abused in a love relationship? Read this post if you suspect you are.

There are a few important things to know in order to be able to identify this type of abuse. Emotional abuse is often a bit more difficult to identify than physical abuse, the form of abuse many people think of as real abuse. Emotional abuse and its closest relative, verbal abuse, are often more subtle and more easily rationalized and hidden. However, they are just as painful and damaging.

When a person is abused emotionally and/or verbally, the damage occurs mostly on the inside. And if the victim is hiding it, you won’t easily see the damage. Damage that occurs to important psychological functions like self-esteem or how victims feel about themselves.

Like all forms of interpersonal abuse, emotional abuse has a purpose. Its primary purpose is to “control” the victim. Most abusers are insecure people who believe and feel that having control over the person they love is the only way to feel “secure” in a love relationship. Problem is, control never solves the problem of insecurity, it only worsens it, creating resistance and resentment in the person you are trying to control.

Insecurity is a personal problem that the insecure person has to fix inside him or herself. By the way, verbal abuse, has the same controlling purpose as emotional abuse. Instead of using emotions, an abuser uses words as the vehicle of abuse. It is also very common to find emotional and verbal abuse happening at the same time.

Emotional abuse is an attempt to control a person by manipulating their emotional experience. Common forms of emotional abuse manipulate emotions like fear and guilt. If you scare someone enough, under the proper conditions they will end up doing what you want out of fear. Same goes for guilt. Making someone feel guilty about what they are doing as opposed to what you want them to do, is a powerful way of ensuring you get what you want and they don’t.

Trouble is, abuse disregards a person’s right to choose, and inflicts emotional pain as the method of doing so. Plus, it is real easy for an abuser to blame a victim’s emotional experience on the victim. That way the abuser can easily avoid responsibility. The important point is, when emotional abuse is occurring, emotions are being used in a toxic way to control a victim against his or her will.

If you repeatedly feel bad in a love relationship because the person you love treats you badly and apologizes for it until the next time it reoccurs, you may be in a toxic emotionally abusive relationship. Find someone you trust to talk to about it, with an emphasis on what you can do to stop the abuse. If your partner does not appear to be interested in changing his or her behavior, consider the possibility that you may need to leave the relationship in order to stop the abuse. Psychotherapy or counseling is always available for short-term support while you figure out how and when to end the relationship.

Your comments are welcome. Tell me about your love life.

Dr. Tom Jordan, author of Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life




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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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