Love Should Not Be Hurtful—Emotional Abuse Counseling in Lynchburg, VA
Emotional abuse is at the forefront of many social discussions these days, but the concept has been around for a long time. The 1940s movie, “Gaslight” with Ingrid Bergman displayed an emotionally abusive marriage on the silver screen. Bergman’s character is slowly and deliberately driven crazy by her husband. The movie even coined the term, “gaslighting.” More importantly, it captured and portrayed the destruction emotional abuse can cause.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a nursery rhyme that even children know is not true. Far more than a hastily spoken, harsh word, emotional abuse is a deliberate pattern of behavior that uses emotions to gain control over another person. It may not wound the body, but emotional abuse inflicts serious damage upon a person’s soul.
Many interventions are available to victims of emotional abuse, and some of the best are through mental health counseling. Experienced and caring counselors can often help people come out of an emotionally abuse relationships, establish their personal safety, and heal their wounds. Thriveworks Lynchburg’s counselors have walked that path with many victims of emotional abuse.
Emotional Abuse—Control through Emotional Manipulation
All relationships have heated disagreements. When differences are respected, quarrels are a normal and even healthy. Emotional abuse, however, is very different than a passionate disagreement. Emotional abuse occurs when one person seeks to control another through deliberate emotional manipulation.
Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior—not a one-time event, and the manipulative behaviors often begin subtly. Victims may have difficulty recognizing the manipulation or the control because it is rarely overt or egregious at first. Perpetrators can then escalate the abuse as victims are desensitized to it.
The behaviors that constitute emotional abuse are endless. The key to determining whether an action is abusive is whether the action is controlling. The following are examples of controlling behaviors that would be considered emotionally abusive:
- Refusing to accept any personal responsibility for one’s behavior.
- Public humiliation, embarrassment, mocking, name-calling, criticizing, et cetera.
- Isolating someone from their friends and family.
- Withholding affection or love.
- Minimizing another’s emotions, perspective, or thoughts (e.g., “You’re just sensitive.”).
- Falsely accusing (specially to distract from personal responsibility).
- Using or objectifying people.
- Cutting off access to medical care, food, money, transportation, or other necessary resources.
- Using threats, guilt, or intimidation to achieve a desired outcome.
- Without permission, disposing of or harming someone’s personal possessions (in particular, possessions that have special meaning).
- Using anger or moodiness to keep people on edge.
- Severely jealous or possessive behavior.
Men and women can be the victims of emotional abuse. It can occur in many different kinds of relationships—a marriage, a friendship, from parent to child, from adult-child to parent, within a spiritual community, at a workplace, and more. The old, young, poor, rich, and any race can experience emotional abuse.
Emotional abuse undercuts an individual’s self-worth and can leave deep emotional wounds. Victims often fight hyper-vigilance, fear, depression, anxiety, suicidal idealization, psychosomatic pain, substance abuse, and more.
Healthy relationships respect each individual’s autonomy and promote each individual’s welfare. However, people who use emotional manipulation to abuse often make their victim feel…
- Acute fear.
- Like everything they do is wrong or bad.
- As if they are stupid or unimportant.
- That they cannot express their real thoughts and feelings.
- As if the emotional abuse is their own fault.
- As if they are walking on egg shells.
Healing the Wounds of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse creates a toxic environment, but escaping and healing from that toxicity is possible. With time and with a professional’s guidance, many people find relief from the abuse, including…
- Reclaiming their self-worth—abuse is never deserved or justified.
- Seeing how their abuser is responsible for his/her decision to hurt.
- The wounds may be invisible, but they are real.
- Healing from trauma recovery is a challenge, but it is possible.
- Re-prioritizing their emotional and physical safety.
- Grieving their losses to find healing.
- Building new relationships on love and trust.
- Learning to trust themselves again.
Counseling for Emotional Abuse at Thriveworks Lynchburg
If you have experienced emotional abuse, know that it is not your fault and that you are not alone. The counselors at Thriveworks Lynchburg understand the hell you have survived, and we want each of our clients to receive the kindness, respect, and love they deserve.
If you contact our office, know that we want to make scheduling therapy as easy as possible. We work with most insurance providers, and we offer evening and weekend appointments. New clients often see their counselor within 24 hours of their call.
If you are read to reclaim your sense of self, Thriveworks Lynchburg is here to help. Call today.