Not all wounds bleed and not all harm is physical. People can cause destruction to another without ever physically touching them. When one person seeks to belittle and control another through emotional insults and deprivation, then those actions are emotionally abusive, and they cause significant harm.
When someone is in an emotionally abusive relationship, they may feel…
- Afraid of the other person.
- Anxious about when the next outburst will occur.
- That they cannot do anything right or good enough.
- Unable to express their real thoughts and feelings.
- A lost sense of self.
- Helpless and/or depressed.
- Responsible for how they are being treated.
Emotional abuse can happen in a marriage, between intimate partners, among friends, from parents to children, in a religious setting, at work, and more. It is never loving behavior, and it may even be illegal. If you or someone you love is in an emotionally abusive relationship, there are many resources available, and some of the best are psychological interventions. Thriveworks Boston offers counseling to help people recover from emotional abuse. Our therapists understand the challenges that people face as they come out of emotionally abusive relationships, and we prioritize their safety and healing.
What Is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse is an established pattern of behavior wherein one person seeks to control another person through emotional manipulations. Emotional abuse can be difficult to define because it is not as obvious as other forms of abuse, but its destruction is very real. Examples of emotional abuse are vast and varied. When people consistently engage in the following behavior toward others, then they may be emotionally abusive…
- Publicly humiliating, mocking, embarrassing, name-calling, or criticizing.
- Ignoring or belittling another’s opinions and emotions.
- Objectifying people.
- Using threats, intimidation, or guilt to get what they want.
- Displaying excessive jealousy or possessiveness.
- Moodiness and bursts of anger.
- Harming, destroying, or disposing of another’s possessions without permission.
- Limiting another’s access to money, transportation, food, health care, or other vital resources.
- Falsely accusing.
- Withholding love to control another (If you don’t…I won’t …)
- Isolating another from other loved ones.
- Refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions.
These behaviors rarely begin egregiously or overtly. In fact, they often begin so subtly that victims rarely know what is happening. Anyone can become a victim of emotional abuse—men, women, young, old, wealthy, poor, and any race or ethnicity. Abusers desensitize their victims to the maltreatment as they escalate the harm.
One form of emotional abuse that particularly fits that pattern is gaslighting. The term gaslighting has received a lot of attention recently, but it has been around since the 1940s movie, “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman. The term, “gaslighting” comes from a scene in the movie where Bergman’s character sees the gaslights dim and brighten, but her husband convinces her that it is all in her imagination. Through this scene and other similar tactics, Bergman’s character slowly loses trust in herself and feels as if she is going crazy.
The goal of any kind of abuse is almost always control, and with emotional abuse, feelings are the tools an abuser uses to gain that control over another. Manipulations like gaslighting erode a person’s sense of self so that the abuse can dominate the victim’s life. Healthy relationships promote freedom instead of control, and emotional abuse comes with a host of potential severe consequences for its victims. Anyone who has experience emotional abuse or seen a loved one suffer knows that the effects of emotional abuse are destructive. Victims often suffer with anxiety, fear, depression, hyper-vigilance, suicidal thoughts, psychosomatic pain, substance abuse, and more.
Healing from Emotional Abuse
The toll of emotional abuse is acute, but recovery is possible. Healing from any kind of abuse is a long-term process, and often, people need professional help. With a skilled therapist by their side, many people have recovered from abuse and learned…
- They are not the problem.
- The harm was real and deep.
- Healing from trauma is difficult but possible.
- How to prioritize their personal safety.
- Grief is part of recovery.
- It is possible to love again.
- They have a voice and a unique self.
Counseling for Emotional Abuse at Thriveworks Boston
If you have experienced emotional abuse from a partner, spouse, parent, friend, or anyone, know that you did not deserve this treatment. The abuse was not your fault, and you are worthy of kindness, respect, and love. Thriveworks Boston understands the destruction emotional abuse can cause, and we have walked with many people as they heal. We consider it an honor to help our clients regain their identity, dreams, and value.
If you schedule counseling at Thriveworks Boston, we want you to feel valued from the first time you dial our office. A person will answer your call and help you schedule an appointment. We accept many forms of insurance, and our counselors offer evening and weekend appointments. Many first-time clients meet with their therapists within 24 hours of their call. We are here for support, guidance, and encouragement. Call today.