When most people think of abuse, they think of physical abuse and bruises. Emotional/psychological abuse does not leave physical marks but is just as, if not more, damaging to a person. You can more easily hide emotional/psychological abuse from the public, friends, and family. You can never be sure what another person is experiencing in their relationships. Some people can too quickly put on a smile and present a perfect image to the outside world. Unfortunately, that’s what our society supports, and that’s just what abusers want so the cycle can continue. It needs to stop. Emotional abuse is abuse.
We need to start recognizing the signs and educating others, including our children, on this insidious abuse so we can stop the dangerous cycle. Unfortunately, it’s often difficult for people to realize they are in an emotionally abusive situation, leaving them in these damaging relationships for far too long. As a result, they can become quiet, withdrawn, and their self-esteem is ravaged.
Abusers will try to control and have power over their victims. Their tactics can include using humiliation, manipulation, threats, controlling finances, crazy-making, and gaslighting. They may also act as if they are more important and intelligent. Their time is more valuable and will demand immediate attention even when they make unreasonable demands. Abusers will be condescending and use inappropriate sarcasm at your expense.
They constantly criticize, call you names, and use bullying behaviors to bulldoze and shut you down. Emotional abusers try to isolate their victims from others, especially those that might support them, like friends and family. They will make up stories about you to hide their abuse and cut off you from social support.
If the abuser’s tactics aren’t working, the violence can escalate quickly. According to centerforfamilyjustice.org, three women in the United States are killed by current or former intimate partners every day. This statistic is terrifying. We need to stop this dangerous cycle.
Let's start a conversation about emotional/psychological abuse. Talk to your children, neighbors, friends, and family members. Make sure they know that just like no one should ever harm their body, they should also not harm their mind and mental wellbeing. If you are in any form of an abusive relationship or recognize someone else is, please speak out. Tell a professional therapist, doctor, or a trusted friend. If someone comes to you and describes abusive behavior, believe them, help them identify it as abuse, and get professional help. You could be saving a life.
Power and Control Wheel to identify and recognize abuse
or call 1-800-799-SAFE