by Dr Cheryl Dusty
These commonalities occur in
those who have been emotionally abuse:
- Don't really have a sound
concept of "normal" or what constitutes healthy
- Lie when they don't need to,
which may have been used to avoid punishment, to get
attention, or to diffuse anger in the past
- Judge themselves more harshly
than others judge them
- Tend to have a hard time
letting go or having fun
- Take themselves very
seriously or not seriously at all.
- Sensitive individuals who
think others will know what they want
- Are willing to take
responsibility for things that don't work out but
have a hard time accepting responsibility for things
that go great
- Insecure so they seek
- Are uncomfortable accepting
- Poor judges of who deserves
loyalty and who does not
- Feel a need to be in control
and overact to things which aren't in their control
- Many times feel like a victim
and blame others for their impulsive actions and
- Have trouble finishing tasks
- Difficult to be successful in
intimate relationships (lack of boundaries or try to
control the relationship)
- We continue to attract
emotionally unavailable people with addictive
- Tend to procrastinate and
have difficulty following project through
- Low self- esteem
- Become people pleasers
- Feel guilty when we stand up
for ourselves or have healthy boundaries
- Often uneasy around other
people, especially authority figures
- Attract emotionally
unavailable people who may or may not have
- Lack clearly defined personal
limits and boundaries thereby becoming
enmeshed in our partner's needs, emotions and wants
- Are so afraid to be alone
that even a bad relationship is better than none,
and after all, the abuser may "change"
- Emotional abuse often
escalates to pushing, shoving, and more dire
Abuse is found in behavior that controls or
subjugates another human being through fear, manipulation,
humiliation, coercion, intimidation or guilt. The only difference in
emotional abuse compared to physical abuse are the visual signs
including cuts and bruises, and includes constant disapproval and/or
criticism and verbal abuse.
Emotional abuse is insidious because it
usually begins slowly and escalates. My belief is that almost all
emotional abuse, given enough time, has a tendency to escalate into
physical abuse. Emotional abuse distorts the victims self perception
and concept, eating away at a person's self esteem until they have
little idea of what is reality and what's not. The victim grows to
believe that somehow they may be deserving of the treatment, but are
so afraid to be alone that they remain in the relationship.
Emotional abuse victims can become so
convinced that they are worthless that they believe that no one else
could want them. They stay in abusive situations because they
believe they have nowhere else to go. Their ultimate fear is being
There are many forms of
emotional abuse which include:
Using sarcasm and
humiliation; belittling, criticizing, name calling, yelling,
Casting blame (it's always
Putting you down in public,
blowing your flaws out of proportion.
- Hot buttons are used against you to take
advantage of fear, your values, compassion, or guilt. This
enables the other person to get what they want.
- Controlling techniques that use your fear
such as threats to end the relationship or withdrawing love,
affection, or communication with you.
- No matter how much you give or do, it
won't be enough
- The partner either wants and makes
constant demands or isolates you to spend all your time with
- You will be reminded how you are unable
to fill all of their needs
- You are expected to put your own life,
desires, or projects aside to fulfill their needs
- You give up self respect when you allow
yourself to always be dominated by another person.
- The other party has the power and
control. They really would like this over every aspect of your
life and will threaten your security to get it.
- Healthy relationships come from healthy
adult interaction. Using techniques including threatening,
ordering you around, calling you names and constant blaming
takes away the equal power in a relationship. They also do this
by judging you, finding you lacking and invalidating your
beliefs or behavior.
- Sometimes abusive behavior is hidden in
the guise of helping you if they control or demean you and your
actions. This behavior teaches you that you are insufficient to
handle your own life and teaches you that you probably couldn't
get along without the abuser.
Your perception is
invalidated when they make light of your perceptions, what is
real to you and how you feel.
Chaos junkies are constantly
in crisis, in the middle of an argument with someone, or in
drastic circumstances, and if it's not, they'll make it happen.
Keep You On Your Toes
- The idea is to keep you off balance and
on your toes. This causes anxiety and stress (your constantly in
a fight or flight state). They like it because they are in
control. Addictive personalities are like this also.
- Having to be in a constant flight or
fight state never allows you to relax. This is extremely
damaging to your physical health. You go from one crisis to
another never knowing about your partners mood or actions.
- Unpredictable responses include reacting
to the same stimulus differently on different days. For instance
your meatloaf may be great one day and the next week they think
it's inedible. You'll also find them having surprise emotional
outbursts or very drastic mood changes
Your Feelings or Reactions
Are Not Valid
- Just another way to deny your reality.
They may admit that the event happened, but your reaction to it
are over the top and unnecessary.
- They will listen to what you are saying
or what you feel you might have accomplished, but it's not
really important or count for much. No big deal, right?
- Tell you that you are crazy and you just
don't remember or it didn't happen like that
- If it's no what they believe or think
it's not allowed
- You've had your reality denied for so
long that you begin to question and distrust your own feelings
and perceptions of events
- Training an animal is one thing, but when
you lives with emotional abuse, you can eventually doubt your
own mind and sanity
- When a partner withdraws communication,
love, or validation from you, it is emotional abuse and it's
used to punish you for not going along with the program
- Waiting until your down and need support
from your partner, they withholding that support to punish,
humiliate, or hurt you
When I Grow Up...
I don't think that I've ever met
any child who said "when I grow up, I want to be in an emotionally
abusive relationship. Nope, your friends and maybe even family will
not understand the dynamics that got you to this place in life.
Heck, you don't even understand where it went so wrong.
First, let me say "You Are Not
Crazy". We are all souls who've come to Earth to learn life's
lessons, and we do the best we can with what we know at the time.
But ultimately, each soul is
responsible for it's own choices. Did you set out to pick an
emotionally abusive relationship? No, of course not! But we do
indeed have the power to attract into our lives the very perfect
piece of the puzzle to mirror the things in our lives that we need
So now you stand at a crossroads:
you've discovered that maybe you're not crazy after all and yes this
situation is actually happening to you. So what are the choices that
you can make? You can indeed choose to stay in this abusive
relationship because you love your partner. You need to know that
the only reason that you could "love" this partner that is abusive
toward you, is that you have not realized that love does not have to
hurt. That it's not meant to hurt. And that you are a unique and
special individual in your own right. And that the fleeting moments
of "honeymoon" (that's the phase when they think they are going to
loose you and do anything, promise anything to woo you back) are
going to get closer and closer together because they always follow
abuse. You see, abuse escalate from verbal and emotional abuse to
physical abuse, which escalates in severity. It is a damaging cycle
that could ultimately cost you your life.
Will he change? Probably not
until the consequences of his/her behavior are so unbearable or
unthinkable that they are forced to get professional help. That help
is not an overnight fix. It takes time and commitment from the
abuser, and you should never consider trying it one more time until
that abuser has gotten the help and then have a considerable time
under their belt of learning new behaviors. Or there may be so much
water under the bridge that you've gotten your own counseling and
wouldn't give him another shot at you on a bet. Remember: our
children learn 100 times more by example than by what we ever tell
them. So consider breaking the cycle now so that abuse does not
become a generational plague.