Beware of Emotional
"Bruises heal, but you don't forget words and emotions, how an abuser makes you feel about yourself."
Emotional abuse is like a razor-sharp blade which cuts deep into the core of an individual’s inner being and heartlessly, and gradually slices away those tender “tissues” responsible for fostering happiness, joy, peace, love and other positive emotions. Unfortunately, many individuals seem not to know they are emotionally abusive, and some are unaware they are being emotionally abused.
In this series, I hope to shed some light on the darkness of this hideous behavior that permeates the length and breadth of society, and suggest some ways to deal with it. Emotional or psychological abuse as it sometimes called, is prevalent among some wives and husbands; parents and children; intimate unmarried couples and employers and employees. Some religious leaders, politicians, law enforcement individuals, medical personnel, educators and a long list of others who sit in positions of influence cannot escape the guilty verdict of being emotionally abusive.
Identifying emotional abuse
Control is at the heart of emotional abuse. The abuser often uses verbal and sometimes non-verbal expressions to manipulate, embarrass, belittle, shame, devalue and criticize others in private or in public.
When someone with whom you are closely connected yells and curses you; calls you names; tries to isolate you from friends and family; bully you; does not want to listen to you or ignore your feelings; make you feel guilty or stupid; or even tries to punish you when you disagree with them; all of those behaviors are bright “red-light” signals of emotional abuse.
If you have been in a relationship for a relatively long time, the emotional abuse can reach a stage where the abuser may be constantly hammering away at your mind by accusing you of things you did not do, expressions you did not make, places you did not go, and relationship you do not have. Some men and women tell me that after a while they question their sanity when such assault habitually takes place.
I am constantly telling individuals who are in such a malaise, that there is nothing wrong with them, but something is radically wrong with the actions of the abuser and that they should never blame themselves for the behavior of the culprit. Sometimes, I recommend they get out of such a toxic climate.
Nature of the emotional abuser
All emotional abusers are insecure individuals and expose such insecurities by displaying a domineering attitude toward others to disguise their emotional deficits. It is a mistake to believe that emotional abusers fall only into the male category.
Over the years I have counselled a high percentage of females who were emotional abusers. Dr. Liz Hale underscores my point when she said: “It’s not just men who abuse. It’s women. We may not be able to physically abuse, but boy can we emotionally abuse a man.” Emotional abuse has no gender distinction, the root causes are practically the same for both genders.
A very high percentage of emotional abuse has its origin in childhood. Some women who are abusers today, tell me that as children, they witnessed their mothers cutting their fathers down to size emotionally with negative words and dismissive actions. These women confessed they grew up doing the same to their children’s fathers. Some men have also admitted to having seen their fathers controlling and manipulating their mothers and they too grew up believing that was the way to treat their female friends, wives and women on a whole.
Emotional abusive behaviors will eventually crawl out of homes into the wider society exhibiting symptoms such as displaced anger, violent and criminal behavior, and disrespect for authority.
Those of us in areas of influence must set wholesome examples for those delegated to our trust and seek professional help for any emotional misconduct that may be flowing from our lives.
Someone said: “Abuse is a control tactic. Its aim is to break you and make you submit.” Never surrender to its vicious grip.
Marriage and Family Life Consultant