Love Does Not Harm—Emotional Abuse Therapy and Counseling in Hampton, VA
When children hear cruel words on the playground, well-meaning adults may try to console them with the old nursery rhyme, “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This oft-used comfort rarely brings relief because even kids know that words can cause significant harm. The wounds may not bleed or bruise, but manipulative words can traumatize and may be emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse can occur in any type of relationship: from a parent to a child, within a marriage, among friends, at work, in a spiritual community, and more. Relationships should allow individuals freedom and respect to hold their own thoughts, feelings, and choices. Emotional replaces that freedom and respect with control and domination.
Author and advocate Aisha Mirza describes the harm emotional abuse can cause: “It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.” If someone has used control and domination to wound your mind and heart, you are not alone. Many people have, unfortunately, experienced emotional abuse, and many people have re-established their personal safety and healed from the abuse with the help of a professional counselor.
Thriveworks Hampton has counselors who understand the harm emotional abuse can cause, and we have walked with many victims as they recover.
Emotional Abuse: A Description
Loving relationships respect each person’s individuality, building each partner up and respecting each person’s unique needs, thoughts, and feelings. Disagreements conducted with respect are a sign of healthy interdependence. Emotional abuse, instead, agitates, controls, and denigrates.
Examples of emotional abuse are often more clear than a definition. The following examples vary in the details, but the underlying pattern is the same: using emotional manipulation to control another person.
- Displays of severe jealousy or possessive behaviors (“I own you.”).
- Publicly embarrassing, shaming, criticizing, mocking, humiliating, or name-calling (“If you weren’t so dumb…”).
- Blaming others instead of accepting responsibility for their own actions (“You have it so much better than …”).
- Using guilt to isolate a person from their loved ones (“How can you visit your mom when I need you?”).
- Holding back affection or love to control another (I won’t… until you…).
- Intentionally and falsely accusing others (particularly to distract from their own maltreatment).
- Minimizing, dismissing, or ignoring another person’s feelings, experiences, and thoughts (“You’re so particular and sensitive.”).
- Objectifying and using people (“Don’t be such a sissy!” or “Man up!”).
- Using threats, guilt, and intimidation (“you know I could destroy you, right?”).
- Cutting off vital resources (money, food, transportation, and/or medical care).
- Without permission, harming or throwing away another’s possessions (trashing a beloved memento).
- Crazy-making/gaslighting (Undermining other people’s trust in their own feelings, experiences, memories, and thoughts).
- Using moodiness or anger to control others (reacting with strong anger at an insignificant infraction).
Many people have given gaslighting attention recently, and it exemplified the intention pattern of control that marks emotional abuse. A 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman coined the term because of a scene where Bergman’s character sees the gaslights flicker. Her emotionally abusive husband says he did not see them brighten and dim, and he convinces her that the event happened in her imagination. Through other, similar tactics, he sabotages her trust in her own experiences. Bergman’s character slowly feels like she is going crazy.
The Unseen Wounds
When one person wounds another’s soul, spirit, or mind, the injury may not bruise or bleed, but it is very painful. There are many injuries emotional abuse can cause, and anyone who has been victimized may experience depression, psychosomatic pain, fear, hyper-vigilance, substance abuse, suicide idealization, and anxiety disorders. In addition, victims may also…
- Experience fear of their perpetrator.
- Think that everything they do, choose, feel, or think is wrong.
- Feel powerlessness and worthless.
- Blame themselves for the abuse.
- Anxiety about when the next outburst may occur.
- A lack of trust in their own feeling, experiences, and thoughts.
Counseling for Emotional Abuse with Thriveworks Hampton
If you recognize the behaviors of someone who emotionally abuses or if you have experienced its unseen wounds, you are not alone. Thriveworks Hampton wants you to know…
- Emotional abuse is always wrong and never deserved.
- The wounds are real.
- Abusers make a choice to harm, and they are responsible for that choice.
- Many people have found safety and healing after an emotionally abusive relationship.
- You can trust your own feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
The counselors at Thriveworks Hampton understand what it takes to heal from the trauma of emotional abuse. If you are ready to meet with a mental health professional, our counselors are ready to meet with you.
When you call to schedule an appointment with our office, you may be able to meet with your counselor the following day—many new clients do. We also offer weekend and evening appointments, and we work with many insurance companies.
Relationships should be marked by love and freedom. If you are ready to establish your personal safety again, we may be able to help. Call Thriveworks Hampton today.