Emotional Abuse in Sterling, Virginia—Counselors and Therapists
In a healthy relationship, people who love each other build one another up. They are kind to each other. They are patient with each other. They seek out each other’s best. Unfortunately, not every relationship follows this model. Many people experience the exact opposite: people who tear them down, shame them, accuse them, manipulate them, or nit-pick at their every action. This treatment can come from a spouse, a spiritual leader, a parent, a friend, or even a co-worker. This treatment may also be emotional abuse.
If healthy relationships are characterized by freedom (each person is free to be who they are), then emotional abuse is characterized by the exact opposite—control. Emotional abuse is about dominating another’s feelings, thoughts, and choices. Here is what it looks like when someone is being emotionally abused. They may…
- Fear making their own thoughts, emotions, and/ needs known.
- Distrust their own perceptions, memories, and/or experiences.
- Be hyper-vigilant.
- Experience constant anxiety.
- Worry about what will set off their spouse (partner, friend, parent, et cetera) into the next rage or emotional outburst.
- Blame themselves—thinking that they deserve this treatment.
- Believe that they cannot do anything right.
- Develop a mental illness.
“The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm.”
― Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?
Emotional abuse can cause deep wounds, and anyone who has experienced it deserves safety and healing from those wounds. There is no easy path toward healing and wholeness after emotional abuse, but there is help in the journey. Just as people who experience physical wounds benefit from a doctor’s treatment, so many who experience emotional wounds benefit from a mental health professional’s treatment. Counseling and therapy can often help people recover from the trauma that emotional abuse inflicts.
That is why the therapists at Thriveworks Sterling offer counseling for emotional abuse. The wounds may not be visible, but they are real. They can also be treated. Our mental health professionals offer personalized and holistic care for emotional abuse.
What Exactly Is Emotional Abuse?
Even though the wounds of emotional abuse are not visible, they are very real. Emotional abuse is a tactic of manipulation wherein one person uses emotions as a weapon against another person. In real life, emotional abuse looks like…
- Angry outbursts (Emotional responses that are out of proportion for the situation can keep others emotionally off balance—not knowing what to expect).
- Unfounded accusations (“You broke [stole, moved, lost, et cetera]…” even when there is clear evidence to the contrary).
- Withholding love when others do not behave a certain way (Ignoring a person instead of working through the issue directly).
- Minimizing or downplaying another’s opinions, experiences, and/or emotions (“You’re so sensitive. It was not that bad.”)
- Breaking, harming, or disposing of someone’s keepsakes or meaningful possessions (Disposing of a childhood toy, family heirloom, special picture, meaningful letter, et cetera).
- Objectifying people (“What a girl” or “Man up”).
- Using threats, intimidation, or guilt to spur action in others (“If you loved me, you would…”).
- Denying someone’s access to life-giving resources (transportation, money, education, food, and/or health care).
- Isolating someone from their friends or family (“Why are you visiting him! You never spend time with me.”).
- Entitlement, possessiveness, and/or jealousy toward another (“You are mine.”).
- Gaslighting (Sabotaging people’s trust in their own thoughts, experiences, or memories).
- Mocking, name-calling, humiliating, shaming, embarrassing, or criticizing others (“Are you stupid?”).
- Shifting blame and defensiveness (“You’re no angel either!”).
Every one of these emotionally abusive tactics is a different way to get to the same goal: control. They all employ emotional manipulation to override another person’s autonomy and control them. Anyone is susceptible to emotional abuse. Like many other forms of abuse, it can start subtly. Perpetrators of emotional abuse know where the line is between healthy interactions and manipulation. They start their abuse with behaviors that could almost seem healthy or could easily be dismissed. However, emotional abuse always escalates. Before they know it, victims may feel trapped.
The result of emotional abuse is an emotional wound. Aisha Mirza is a victims’ advocate and explains, “It is not the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.” Often, those wounds upon the heart and mind manifest as depression, psychosomatic pain, hyper-vigilance, substance abuse, anxiety, fear, and suicidal idealization. These wounds run deep, but skilled therapists know how to apply deep healing. Often, people benefit from working with a counselor as they are healing from emotional abuse.
Appointments at Thriveworks Sterling for Emotional Abuse
As you read through the methodologies that perpetrators of emotional abuse employ, did you recognize anything? If you did, the staff at Thriveworks Sterling would like you to know that you deserve to be treated with dignity, love, and respect. You deserve to be safe, and you are not alone. The therapists at Thriveworks Sterling are ready to help. When you contact our office, you may have your first appointment the following day. We accept many forms of insurance, and we offer evening and weekend sessions. We hope our clients receive the mental health care they need when they need it. Contact Thriveworks Sterling today.