Abuse can be extremely damaging and painful. It can change your personality, your mindset, your relationships and your entire life. Although overcoming emotional abuse can be difficult, you can choose to live a life free of self-doubt and fear.
Is abuse the price of love?
One of the sad realities of life is that we are always abused by the people we love. Whether our abusers are our parents or partners, we allow them to ignore our personal boundaries and toy with our minds and emotions simply because we want them to love us. Because we want them to value us. Accept us. Approve and acknowledge us. We want to be nourished and nurtured by them. We want to take care of them. Make them happy. And maybe that’s why we ignore the early warning signs. We tell ourselves that they are just angry, it’s our fault, we need to be more careful about what we say and do. But it’s all a lie. No one wants to upset the people they love. That’s basic human nature. And that perhaps is our biggest mistake. But when did loving someone become a mistake? Are we not supposed to let our guards down when we are with our loved ones? Are we not supposed to trust our parents? Are we not supposed to allow our partner to have some basic rights over us?
Yes, we are. But that’s not where abuse begins. It is our failure to maintain personal boundaries and our inability to identify toxic, abusive tendencies in our loved ones that makes us fall victim to emotional abuse. It is our need for love, validation and acceptance that makes us blind to all the abuse we experience. It is our self-doubt, insecurities, false beliefs and desperate needs to fix them… that’s what is at fault here. Abuse is never your fault. You don’t invite someone to abuse you. No matter what, you NEVER deserve to be abused by someone. It is not your fault that the person you love is toxic. It’s not your fault that they don’t know how to respond to love in a positive and healthy way. It’s not your fault that they are broken. It’s not your responsibility to fix them. But it IS our own responsibility to protect ourselves. It is YOUR responsibility to recognize that you are being abused by someone you love. It is your responsibility to leave that abusive relationship and protect yourself. You owe yourself a better life.
No, you are not overreacting. No, you can’t fix him. Yes, this is a big deal. Stop minimizing abuse. Start respecting yourself. You are not alone. If you are experiencing emotional abuse, then here is what you need to do.
How to heal from emotional abuse
Studies show that younger women are more likely to experience emotional abuse. So if you are experiencing abuse and fear harm from your partner, parents or any other abusive loved ones, then know that help is always available. Here are a few things you need to do when you have been abused:
1. Recognize that you’re being abused
Psychotherapist and author Beverly Engel L.M.F.T. explains “Emotional abuse is one of the most difficult types of abuse to identify because it is so hidden, insidious, and confusing.” Most victims of abuse fail to realize that abuse is occuring, especially when physical assault is not involved. What you need to understand that simply because emotional abuse can be subtle doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Although fighting, arguing and yelling in a relationship is not necessarily emotional abuse, when it occurs repeatedly at the cost of your self-esteem then you may need to take notice. “Emotional abuse is an attempt to control… The accusations, the blame, and the constant checking up are forms of emotional abuse,” writes author and cognitive and transpersonal therapist Andrea Mathews, LPC, NCC. The abuser may believe that they know what is best for you so they try to control your actions through harsh criticisms and threats. “Emotional abuse can include verbal assault, dominance, control, isolation, ridicule, gaslighting, emotional blackmail, or the use of intimate knowledge for degradation,” adds Engel.