Emotional abuse damages the mental state of the victim. It can cause severe personality disorders which may very well become permanent. Emotional abuse can take an intelligent, beautiful person with the potential for greatness and ruin everything he or she could have done with his or her life. Emotional abuse can push a person to suicide. Mental and Verbal abuse are just two of the seven types of emotional abuse. Some people don’t even know they are being emotionally abused until it is too late. Here is a good article I found that lists the signs of emotional abuse and describes it in detail.
Nothing is more damaging to your confidence and self-esteem than being in an emotionally abusive relationship.
Unlike physical abuse which rears its ugly head in dramatic outbursts, emotional abuse can be more insidious and elusive. In some cases, neither the abuser nor the victim are fully aware it’s happening.
The most obvious scenario for emotional abuse is in an intimate relationship in which a man is the abuser and the woman is the victim. However, a variety of studies show that men and women abuse each other at equal rates.* In fact, emotional abuse can occur in any relationship — between parent and child, in friendships, and with relatives.
So what is emotional abuse? It involves a regular pattern of verbal offense, threatening, bullying, and constant criticism, as well as more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming and manipulation. Emotional abuse is used to control and subjugate the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven’t dealt with — perhaps as a result of being abused themselves. They didn’t learn healthy coping mechanisms or how to have positive, healthy relationships. Instead, they feel angry, hurt, fearful and powerless.
Male and female abusers tend to have high rates of personality disorders including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. Although emotional abuse doesn’t always lead to physical abuse, physical abuse is almost always preceded and accompanied by emotional abuse.*
The victim of the abuse quite often doesn’t see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress. But the effects of long-term emotional abuse can cause severe emotional trauma in the victim, including depression, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.
If you aren’t sure what constitutes this damaging behavior, here are 30 signs of emotional abuse.
1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
4. They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.
6. They correct or chastise you for your behavior.
7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
12. They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.
13. They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
14. They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.
15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
16. They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
17. The repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
18. They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
19. They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.
20. They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
21. They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
22. They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
24. They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
25. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
26. They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
27. They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.
28. They share personal information about you with others.
29. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.
30. They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.
The first step for those being emotionally abused is recognizing it’s happening. If you recognize any of the signs of emotional abuse in your relationship, you need to be honest with yourself so you can regain power over your own life, stop the abuse, and begin to heal. For those who’ve been minimizing, denying, and hiding the abuse, this can be a painful and frightening first step.
The stress of emotional abuse will eventually catch up with you in the form of illness, emotional trauma, depression, or anxiety. You simply can’t allow it to continue, even if it means ending the relationship. A licensed counselor who is trained in abusive relationships can help you navigate the pain and fears of leaving the relationship and work with you to rebuild your self-esteem.
Can an emotional abuser change? It is possible if the abuser deeply desires to change and recognizes his or her abusive patterns and the damage caused by them. However, the learned behaviors and feelings of entitlement and privilege are very difficult to change. The abusers tend to enjoy the power they feel from emotional abuse, and as a result, a very low percentage of abusers can turn themselves around.
According to Lundy Bancroft, author of the book Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, here are some of the changes an abuser (either man or woman) needs to make to begin recovery:
- Admit fully to what they have done.
- Stop making excuses and blaming.
- Make amends.
- Accept responsibility and recognize that abuse is a choice.
- Identify the patterns of controlling behavior they use.
- Identify the attitudes that drive their abuse.
- Accept that overcoming abusiveness is a decades-long process — not declaring themselves “cured.”
- Not demanding credit for improvements they’ve made.
- Not treating improvements as vouchers to be spent on occasional acts of abuse (ex. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so it’s not a big deal).
- Develop respectful, kind, supportive behaviors.
- Carry their weight and sharing power.
- Change how they respond to their partner’s (or former partner’s) anger and grievances.
- Change how they act in heated conflicts.
- Accept the consequences of their actions (including not feeling sorry for themselves about the consequences, and not blaming their partner or children for them).
If the emotional abuser in your relationship isn’t interested in changing, and you aren’t in a position to leave the relationship immediately, here are some strategies for reclaiming your power and self-esteem for the short term:
Put your own needs first. Stop worrying about pleasing or protecting the abuser. Take care of yourself and your needs, and let the other person worry about themselves — even when they pout or try to manipulate you and control your behavior.
Set some firm boundaries. Tell your abuser he or she may no longer yell at you, call you names, be rude to you, etc. If the bad behavior occurs, let them know you will not tolerate it and leave the room or get in the car and drive to a friend’s house.
Don’t engage. If the abuser tries to pick a fight or win an argument, don’t engage with anger, over-explaining yourself, or apologies to try to sooth him/her. Just keep quiet and walk away.
Realize you can’t “fix” them. You can’t make this person change or reason your way into their hearts and minds. They must want to change and recognize the destructive quality of their behavior and words. You’ll only feel worse about yourself and the situation by repeated “interventions.”
You are not to blame. If you’ve been entrenched in an abusive relationship for a while, it can be crazy-making. You start to feel like something must be wrong with you since this other person treats you so poorly. Begin to acknowledge to yourself that it is NOT you. This is the first step toward rebuilding your self-esteem.
Seek support. Talk to trusted friends and family or a counselor about what you are going through. Get away from the abusive person as often as possible, and spend time with those who love and support you. This support system will help you feel less alone and isolated while you still contend with the abuser.
Develop an exit plan. You can’t remain in an emotionally abusive relationship forever. If finances or children or some other valid reason prevents you from leaving now, develop a plan for leaving as soon as possible. Begin saving money, looking for a place to live, or planning for divorce if necessary so you can feel more in control and empowered.
Emotional abuse is a form of brain-washing that slowly erodes the victim’s sense of self-worth, security, and trust in themselves and others. In many ways, it is more detrimental than physical abuse because it slowly disintegrates one’s sense of self and personal value. It cuts to the core of your essential being, which can create lifelong psychological scars and emotional pain.
Have you suffered with emotional abuse? How have you coped with the situation, and what are you doing to reclaim your power and self-esteem. Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Written byon August 6, 2013
Narcissistic fathers often emotionally damage their children. They disregard boundaries, manipulate their children by withholding affection (until the children “perform”), and neglect to meet the needs of their children because they are interested only in meeting their own needs. Their image and perfection is essential to narcissists; they often demand perfection from their children. The children thus feel intense pressure to be perfect and try to ramp up their talents, looks, intellect or personality to please their father. It has a high personal cost to them if they succeed in fulfilling their father’s wishes – and it can cost them just as much if they fail. It’s a no-win situation.
There is profound unhappiness among the members of a family ruled by a tyrannical narcissistic father. In many of these families, the mother simply echoes the father as she feels uncertain of herself (due to his emotional abuse) and is afraid to take her husband on. Often this destructive pattern is the result of the mother’s own childhood. Not aware of the dynamics of narcissism, she went from a cruel, tyrannical father to a brutal, domineering husband. Repetition of psychological patterns, such as is seen with abuse and narcissism, is common. The mother chooses a spouse similar to her abusive parent and raises a family in an abusive environment like the one she was raised in.
How a narcissistic father affects his children
• Daughters of narcissistic fathers frequently report that they can never feel satiated when it to comes to getting what they need from their fathers. They never got enough time with their father and would have to compete with siblings for that rare time. As a young child, a father might comment on how beautiful his daughter was. But as she grew older, he would rarely miss an opportunity to comment on her weight and attitude. The daughters often carry these concerns into adulthood, even if they were otherwise successful. With a father like this, nothing is ever good enough. Their relationship with men in the future is clouded by feelings of vulnerability and worries that they’ll be dumped for someone else. Anxiously avoiding commitment or taking on the narcissistic role are both natural ways for the daughters to keep relationships “safe”. It’s self protective but doesn’t lead to healthy relationships.
• Sons of narcissistic fathers describe feeling that they can never measure up. Their fathers were so competitive they even compete with their sons. They either compete or pay no attention to their sons. The sons often simply accept defeat – how can they possibly win against a grown man? Sometimes they take another tact and work hard to beat their father at his own game- just to get his attention and some semblance of fatherly pride. Yet they never feel good enough even when they do succeed; they still feel empty and second rate.
Both girls and boys need to be loved by their fathers in order to feel validated as individuals. Narcissists are incapable of loving anyone other than themselves. Some of their children become narcissists themselves. That way they get their father’s attention (imitation is the highest form of flattery) and they learn from an expert how to manipulate and use people.
Having a tyrannical father is a nightmare for every member of the family except the “chosen child” (or children) whom he picks to reflect his perfect image. The chosen child is groomed to become his little clone. They have been chosen for their looks, intellect, special talents, or some other characteristic that the narcissistic father regards as valuable to him. Other children in the family are bypassed because they have not measured up to his expectations. They can be very bright, kind, considerate, or sensitive–none of this matters to the narcissistic father. He doesn’t care about the quality of his other children’s character or personality. These children suffer; they spend their whole childhoods doing their best, trying to get their father’s love and attention yet they always come up empty-handed. There is also usually the “scapegoat” child. Narcissistic fathers are often mean and cruel to these children and let them know- on a regular basis- that they are deficient, unmotivated, always wrong and too soft. They are worthless to him and are blamed for everything that goes wrong.
Characteristics of a Narcissistic Father
(From Children of the Self Absorbed: A Grownup’s Guide to Getting over Narcissistic Parents by Nina Brown)
- Turns every conversation to himself
- Expects you to meet his emotional needs
- Ignores the impact of his negative comments on you
- Constantly criticizes or berates you and knows what is best for you
- Focus on blaming rather than taking responsibility for his own behavior
- Expects you to jump at his every need
- Is overly involved with his own hobbies, interests or addictions ignoring your needs
- Has high need for attention
- Brags, sulks, complains, inappropriately teases, is flamboyant, loud and boisterous
- Is closed minded about own mistakes. Can’t handle criticism and gets angry to shut it off
- Becomes angry when his needs are not met and tantrums or intimidates
- Has an attitude of “Anything you can do, I can do better”
- Engages in one-upmanship to seem important
- Acts in a seductive manner or is overly charming
- Is vain and fishes for compliments. Expects you to admire him
- Isn’t satisfied unless he has the “biggest” or “best”
- Seeks status. Spends money only to impress others
- Forgets what you have done for him in the past but keeps reminding you that you owe him today
- Neglects the family to impress others. Does it all: Is a super person to gain admiration
- Threatens to abandon you if you don’t go along with what he wants
- Does not obey the law-sees himself above the law
- Does not expect to be penalized for failure to follow directions or conform to guidelines
- Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive or touchy if you express feelings
- Tells you how you should feel or not feel
- Cannot listen to you and cannot allow your opinions
- Is more interested in his own concerns and interests than yours
- Is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own
- Wants to control what you do and say-tries to micromanage you
- Attempts to make you feel stupid, helpless and inept when you do things on your own
- Has poor insight and cannot see the impact his selfish behavior has on you
- Has shallow emotions and interests
- Exploits others with lies and manipulations.
- Uses emotional blackmail to get what he wants
- May engage in physical or sexual abuse of children
The tyrannical narcissistic father is a bully- a cruel, lying, arrogant person. He is a tyrant that is totally entrenched in his grandiose world and insistent that everyone follow his commands. He is emotionally abusive and can cause significant emotional damage to all family members. Unfortunately, his behaviors cause the relationships within a family to be toxic and can cause lifelong wounds.
I know I promised a video and an article. It is coming. I have been dealing with many changes over the past two weeks, so I’m updating a bit. I also found some pretty cool new video making apps, so I am changing over to use one of the newer ones. It’ll be out soon. In the mean time, here is more information related to what my family has dealt with. Learn the signs, pay attention to them, and don’t get blindsided like I did.
Love Always and Unconditionally,
The following information comes from:
The Invisible Scar raising awareness of emotional child abuse, its effects on adult survivors & the power of words on children
When emotional abuse is shown in movies or TV programs, the abuser is often a huge, ugly, fierce-looking adult. The abuser never looks like the kind-faced person next door. The abuser is never an ordinary person, never someone known to his neighbors, never someone who shops at the local store, has friends, or keeps a regular job. The abuser is easily to spot. The abuser might as well carry a sign for all people to see.
In real life, however, abusers aren’t always that obvious. They might look huge and fierce—but they can also look gentle and meek. In real life, emotional child abusers can be far sneakier. In some cases, no one but the abused child will know the adult is an emotional child abuser.
And the weapons used for emotional child abuse don’t rely on strength and bulk; the abuser relies on words and emotional warfare.
Though emotional abuse does include outright screaming (called terrorizing), people who watch such movies or TV programs may think, “Oh, I yell at my kid sometimes. Who doesn’t?” What they fail to realize is that—unlike normal bursts of temper—emotional abuse is long-term… and the shouting is part of a long series of shouts.
Emotional abuse is systematic.
“Psychological abuse of a child is a pattern of intentional verbal or behavioral actions or lack of actions that convey to a child the message that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or only of value to meet someone else’s needs.”(Samantha Gluck, Healthy Place: America’s Mental Health Channel article)
How emotionally abusive parents tear at the child’s sense of self varies. Here are some examples of the different types of emotional child abuse.
Giving the silent treatment.
“No discussion of emotional abuse through words would be complete without including the absence of words as a form of abuse. This is commonly known as the “silent treatment.” Abusers punish their victims by refusing to speak to them or even acknowledge their presence. Through silence, the abusers loudly communicate their displeasure, anger, frustration, or disappointment.” (Dr. Gregory Jantz, “Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The Silent Treatment Abuser” article)
The abusive parent will withhold attention and affection until the child caves in and apologizes for whatever the abuser perceived as a slight or insult. Through a series of silent treatments, the abused child will learn to be silent, to be docile, to never speak against the parent—because if the child does, he will not be loved or spoken to or even acknowledged as a human being.
Ranking children unnecessarily.
In emotional child abuse, children are placed in pecking order. A parent continually compares his child to another (a sibling, a neighbor’s child, anyone who is a peer to the emotionally abused child) … and the abuser will always find his child to be lacking. The ranking can be for anything as sitting still during dinner to doing chores; anything is cause for comparison. The abused child will never rank high. Never.
Abusive parents treat their children as if the kids are beneath them.
This type of abuse destroys something that the child cherishes.
“Bunny Boiling is a reference to an iconic scene in the movie “Fatal Attraction” in which the main character Alex, who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, kills the family’s pet rabbit and boils it on the stove. Bunny Boiling has become a popular reference to how people sometimes exhibit their rage by behaving destructively towards symbolic, important or treasured possessions or representations of those whom they wish to hurt, control or intimidate.” (Out of the FOG website)
Whatever the child treasures, an abusive parent will take away or destroy.
Abusive parents will play mind games with their children. It involves saying or doing something then pretending it never happened or happened differently from how it really happened.
“Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.” (Theodore L. Dorpat,”Gaslighting, the Double Whammy, Interrogation, and Other Methods of Covert Control in Psychotherapy and Analysis“)
Parents will say or do things then deny them or change the details consistently, so the child ends up doubting his or her memory. The parents will often also set up the child as being mentally deficient or “fragile,” so that other people who know the child will think that the child is either lying or incapable of recalling things correctly. Again, the abuse is a lifelong campaign, a consistent theme in the child’s life.
“Scapegoating is a serious family dysfunctional problem with one member of the family or a social group being blamed for small things, picked on and constantly put down. In scapegoating, one of the authority figures has made a decision that somebody in the family has to be the bad guy. The mother or father makes one child bad and then looks for things (sometimes real, but most often imagined) that are wrong.” (Lynn Namaka, “Scapegoating“)
Often, the emotional child abuser will encourage, through his or her actions and treatment of the scapegoat, the other children to also pick on the scapegoat, so that the scapegoat has no allies in the family.
An emotional child abuser will sabotage a child’s calm and peace. For example, if a child looks forward to a television program, at the last minute, the emotional child abuser may deliberately set forth a ridiculously long chore list to be done before the child can watch the show. (Think of the evil stepmother in “Cinderella,” who set up Cinderella to fail by giving her too long a list of items to do before the ball.) Or the father will deliberately schedule a family meeting at the same time that a child had planned ahead of time to attend a friend’s birthday party. Like all forms of emotional child abuse, sabotaging ruins a child’s sense of security.
The opposite side of scapegoating is favoritism.
“Favoritism is the practice of systematically giving positive, preferential treatment to one child, subordinate or associate among a family or group of peers…. Favoritism becomes dysfunctional when actions and opportunities, resources and liberties are systematically denied or applied inequitably for no logical reason and without just cause.” (Out of the FOG)
An example of favoritism is when an emotional child abuser will let one child get a car ride to school with friends, but the other child must walk or ride a bicycle to school even though that child also was offered a ride by friends. Or one child has a completely different set of rules to adhere to while the other child has less or more relaxed rules.
An emotionally abuse parent will maintain a sense of power of his children by creating conflict between them. The children will be manipulated into conflicts with one another.
For example, a father will talk to Child A about Child B and say how he is upset with Child B because Child B said some terrible things about Child A. Child A will then be angry with Child B for both hurting her feelings and also for making the father sad. Child A and Child B will rarely discuss the incident because the parent has set up the children to distrust one another. Another example: a mother will vent her feelings about Child D to Child E, describing that child as taxing and irritating and whiny… then Child D will start viewing Child E in that light. Child D trusts the parent and will take her side. Meanwhile, the parent will talk to Child E about Child D.
Pathological (or compulsive) lying.
“Compulsive Lying is a term used to describe lying frequently out of habit, without much regard for the consequences to others and without having an obvious motive to lie. A compulsive liar is someone who habitually lies.”
An emotional child abuser will often lie to his child. The lying will often go hand in hand with gaslighting, so that the parent will deny the lie. For example, a parent will tell a child, “If you get straight A’s this quarter, I will buy you an iPod Touch.” When the child gets straight A’s, the parent will deny the statement. “I never promised you an iPod Touch!” The combination of the lie and then the outright denial, if it’s habitual and consistent, will cause the child to begin to question his memory and, in some cases, sanity. The child becomes increasingly self-doubting.
Smear campaigners carefully and strategically use lies, exaggerations, suspicions and false accusations to try destroying your credibility. They hide behind a cloak of upstanding heroism and feigned innocence in an attempt to make as many people as possible think their efforts are based not on their vindictiveness, but on upstanding concern.
Because emotional child abusers wage lifelong campaigns against a child, a smear campaign often begins in a child’s early years and throughout the child’s adolescence and even into adulthood.
For example, an emotional child abuser will emotionally abuse a child then tell his friends that his child is “overly sensitive” and “prone to exaggerate.” Even if the abuse is terrible and obvious, the parent will downplay it to the child, telling the child that he is “overly sensitive” and “prone to exaggerate.” Whenever possible, the emotional child abuser will refer to that child as “overly sensitive” and “prone to exaggerate.” Friends, relatives, neighbors and, in some cases, siblings, will begin forming that perception of the abused child. Because the abusive parent has set up that child to be seen in that light, the abused child will often have no one to turn to for support or help… and if they do, they are not believed and told that they have always been “overly sensitive” and “prone to exaggeration.” Worst of all, the emotionally abused child will be conditioned to take abuse but not speak up or expect anything better because they view themselves as “overly sensitive” and “prone to exaggeration”—though if they related the facts of the events to an outsider (who has not been conditioned for years), the outsider would see the obvious abuse.
Note: The types below were mentioned in the Emotional Abuse Defined post.
Ignoring. Parents ignore the significant events in the child’s life. They ignore the child in general and refuse to discuss any interests or activities that the child may have. They seem bothered by the existence of the child. The abusive parent will cut short conversations, interrupt the child, mock the child for his/her interests, and treat the child as if she is a nuisance.
Corrupting. Parents teach the abused child to be a racist and bigot. They encourage violence and anger, and they advocate bullying. The parents reward the child for substance abuse or bigotry; promote illegal activities; and/or reward the child for such behaviors as lying, stealing, etc.
Terrorizing. This behavior is what people first think about when they think of emotional child abuse. Parents threaten the child verbally; they yell, scream, or curse. The parents swing from rage to warmth to rage, ridicule the child, and/or force the child to watch inhumane acts. The abusive parent keeps the child on edge, jumpy, nervous about meltdown. Emotionally abused children often end up extremely attuned to the parents’ tone of voice, slightest movements, nonverbal cues, in order to try to avoid a blow-up.
Isolating. Parents leave the child unattended for very long periods of time. They keep the child away from family, friends, and peers, etc. They punish the child for engaging in normal activities and make the child become a misfit. They force the child to do excessive chores or excessive studying to keep them isolated. The child will not have the same opportunities as his or her peers to engage in social interactions but be forced to constantly sacrifice his childhood for the sake of the parents’ demands.
Inappropriate control. Parents exercise overcontrol—which robs children of the opportunities for self-assertion and self-development. Or parents show a lack of control—which puts children in dangerous situations or at risk to be in them. Or parents show inconsistent control—which leaves the children feeling anxious and confused.
Though difficult to detect and substantiate from the outside, the child is abused… and the emotional abuse leaves deep-rooted, invisible scars in the child’s psyche that can “impede their intellectual, social, and emotional development.”
You can read the original article here.