Not just physical abuse can hurt in a relationship. Words and emotional manipulation can cause similar sufferings like physical abuse. Words have their own power, they can heal but also can hurt and destroy as well. What kind of signs does emotional abuse have? How can we protect ourselves from it?
Verbal/emotional abuse is the most difficultly recognizable abusive form because it can be used indirectly by wrapped into a paper of trifling or by exaggerated manipulative behaviour. The outcome of being emotionally abused is the same, damaged self-esteem and questioning the sense of reality. A lot of people stuck in emotionally abusive relationship because they don’t want to believe it’s really happening with them. Easier to quiet ourselves with thinking that “I’m sure she/he didn’t mean it!” or “Actually he/she means it for my good!”. Abuse can appear not just in relationships, also in friendships, family or working place. Through segregation and suppressing the abuser gets the control and even if the victim feels that the relationship is becoming damaged, often feels scared to break up the poisoning relation.
Researches have proved that both physical and emotional pain activate the very same parts of the brain. Doesn’t matter if there are no visible bruises on our body, emotional abuse doesn’t disappear without damage. If the verbal/emotional abuse is serious and continuous the victim’s self-esteem and self-evaluation can get degraded without physical bruises. The suffering person believes she/he is less valued, his/her self-confidence decreasing and in the meantime starting to doubt own capacities and capabilities. After a while critics and negative remarks become part of the victim’s self-esteem and not able to see herself/himself real. Become part of the self-image and the victim become one with the point of view of the abuser. Verbal and emotional abuse ensnare the victim whom can feel that she/he wouldn’t be possibly enough good for anyone else as well and stays in the relationship. The abuse influences negatively the whole social network of the victim because she/he is starting to question everything, like if the others really like him/her or not. This doubting easily segregate the victim from other people. Long-term abuse can cause depression and anxiety, eating disorders and sleeping problems. Often victims don’t talk about their situation because they feel shame and also they still doubt their own situation….what if the other is right?
The most important condition of treating abusive relationship is REALIZATION. Admission is essential after experiencing any aspect of abuse to move on. The victim must honestly have to face with facts and happenings to get back the lead of own life. There are few strategies which can help to move on or at least minimize the damage of an abusive relationship.
- Have our mental and physical health the first priority and stop blaming ourselves!
In an abusive relationship we must make ourselves aware of our own needs and their priorities. We must let the compliance go towards the abuser which had been developing in the past. We can look for activities which support the positive mindset and strengthen who we are. It can be a self-knowledge course or hobby which is all about just us. Step by step we can experience that we are able to take care of ourselves and strengthen our self-esteem. In an emotionally abusive relationship we susceptible to believe that the problem is us, we are the bad ones. Why? Because we think there must be a provided reason (our behaviour or simply just the way we are) for our partner who is acting with us on the way he/she does – we give the reason to him/her. (Why would he/she act like this but loves me?) We must stop blaming ourselves because we don’t have control on that part of the relationship. Abusers are masters of making us believe that we provided or provoked their abusive reactions or behaviour. This is not truth! We must be aware of it.
- Set up borders and don’t afraid of give abuser the cold shoulder!
Probably the most difficult step to make clear to the abusive partner what she/he can do or what can’t. We must undertake that he/she is not allowed to shout or call us names, not allowed to use insulting labels about us. Can help to ask his/her attention to the possible consequences. We must set up those borders what we can maintain. So if the abuser’s communication doesn’t change, well we must stand up and interrupt the communication. We must acknowledge that not everybody or everything can be “rescued”. In a long-term abusive relationship most probably the attitude of the abuser is not going to change just because we try to fill up his/her expectations, pleasing him/her or bagging or crying. We must remember that we are responsible just for our own actions and not for the abuser’s.
- Build safety net and always have escaping route!
After we have recognized the problem, we must start to talk about it with someone even if it hurts. We can feel shame and humiliation but if we don’t speak about it our situation is going to be just worse. Very important to find somebody who we can share our situation with. It can be a friend, a family member or an expert. We should spend as much time as possible with those people who love and support us. Our social network can reduce our isolated and lonely feeling. Really very hard to leave someone who we love even if that relationship is poisonous. We must see that clearly most of the times abusive people don’t look for help or clearly see that what they do is destructive, so they don’t ask help to change. Face the facts that if she/he is not able or willing to change we must break up and leave. Emotional abuse can cause the same damage as physical ones. Every situations are different but there are cases where the only solution is to leave.
Very important to know one thing, there is always a solution to get out from a destructive relationship, always even if we haven’t found it yet!