Characteristics of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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Emotional abuse is defined as negative words or nasty attitudes that are used to control another person. Such abuse is often difficult to recognize, as wounds are mental and leave no visible signs of the victim's anguish.

Considerations

  • The abuser's goal is to use criticism, aggression, rejection, intimidation, verbal assaults and chaos to undermine the victim's confidence and security.

Features

  • You may be cursed at, called names such as stupid, repeatedly accused of wrongdoing, physically threatened or publicly demeaned. Your opinions are sarcastically ridiculed and your feelings dismissed as not being worth listening to. You are punished with the silent treatment if you disobey any of the abuser's orders.

Effects

  • The abuser's withdrawn affection and criticism causes fear, confusion, loss of confidence and deep sadness. Rapid and sudden mood swings keep the relationship in a constant state of turmoil, and you walking on eggshells.

Misconceptions

  • You may think that if you try harder to please, are more perfect or if you give the abuser what he or she wants, things will change and you'll finally be loved. The truth is that no matter how much you give, it will never be enough.

Expert Insight

  • Repeated verbal abuse has long-term effects on self-esteem, resulting in feelings of worthlessness and resignation that this is "the best I can do."

Prevention/Solution

  • Gain understanding and get help. Contact a domestic violence hotline in your area, or call 1-800-799-SAFE.

References

  • Photo Credit IStockPhoto.Com
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