Emotional Abuse : More violent than physical

Emotional Abuse , a silent weapon, that leaves hidden scars
that manifest themselves in numerous ways.


This has become a common practice in our society whether in relationship or parenting or child. Just because there is no physical mark doesn’t mean the abuse isn’t real and isn’t a problem or even a crime in some countries.

Emotional abuse can happen to anyone at any time in their lives. Children, teens and adults all experience emotional abuse. And emotional abuse can have devastating consequences on relationships and all those involved. Emotional abuse, like other types of abuse, tends to take the form of a cycle. In a relationship, this cycle starts when one partner emotionally abuses the other, typically to show dominance. The abuser then feels guilt, but not about what he (or she) has done, but more over the consequences of his actions. The abuser then makes up excuses for his own behavior to avoid taking responsibility over what has happened. The abuser then resumes “normal” behavior as if the abuse never happened and may, in fact, be extra charming, apologetic and giving – making the abused party believe that the abuser is sorry. The abuser then begins to fantasize about abusing his partner again and sets up a situation in which more emotional abuse can take place.

One definition of emotional abuse is: “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”

Emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse or as “chronic verbal aggression” by researchers. People who suffer from emotional abuse tend to have very low self-esteem, show personality changes (such as becoming withdrawn) and may even become depressed, anxious or suicidal.

Emotional Abuse in childrens

The effects of emotional abuse in childrens are often silent. Verbal and psychological wounds leave a child forever changed. Emotional abuse is often overlooked, unnoticed or confused with other causes.

Emotional child abuse attacks a child’s self-concept. The child comes to see him or herself as unworthy of love and affection. An infant who is being deprived of emotional nurturing, connection and bonding through close contact, even though physically well cared for, can fail to thrive.

“ I can’t believe you embarrassed me like this!,” humiliated, “You idiot!,” , “You’re really gonna get it now!” or rejected, “Go to your room!” are as equally significant, although seemingly invisible and harder to recognize or quantify than the wounds of the worst physical and sexual abuse.

Less severe forms of early emotional deprivation still can produce drastic effects of emotional abuse such as babies who grow into anxious and insecure children who are slow to develop and who may fail to develop a strong sense of self-esteem.

Other types of abuse are usually noticed because marks or other physical evidence is left, however, signs of emotional abuse can be very hard to define.

In some instances, the effects of emotional abuse are so subtle that an emotionally mistreated child may show no signs of abuse. For this reason, emotional abuse is the most difficult form of child maltreatment to identify and stop.

Insecurity, poor self-esteem, destructive behavior, angry acts such as fire setting or cruelty to animals, withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide and difficulty forming relationships can all be possible results of emotional abuse.

Behavioral Effects

Emotional child abuse can result in other more serious psychological and/or behavioral problems. These include depression, lack of attachment or emotional bond to a parent or guardian, low cognitive ability and educational achievement and poor social skills.

One study which followed emotionally abused children in infancy and then again during their preschool years consistently found them to be “angry, uncooperative and unattached to their primary caregiver.” These children more often also lacked creativity, persistence and enthusiasm.

Parental verbal aggression (e.g., yelling, insulting) or symbolic aggression (e.g., slamming a door, giving the silent treatment) toward children can have serious consequences.

People who witness abuse in relationships or emotional spousal abuse demonstrate higher rates of physical aggressiveness, delinquency and interpersonal problems than others. Children whose parents are additionally physically abusive are even more likely to experience such difficulties.

Children who see or hear their mothers being abused 
are victims of emotional abuse.

Growing up in such an environment is terrifying and severely affects a child’s psychological and social development. Male children may learn to model violent behavior while female children may learn that being abused is a normal part of relationships. This contributes to the multi-generational cycle of violence.

The consequences of emotional abuse can be serious and long-term. Emotionally abused person may experience a lifelong pattern of depression, estrangement, anxiety, low self-esteem, inappropriate or troubled relationships, or a lack of empathy.

Emotional Abuse in Relationships


“No man is worth dying for. 
Especially when he’s the one killing you.”

Many women struggle to know and understand what is healthy and how they deserve to be treated. Society has not educated us from the onset to understand what our physical, emotional and mental rights are.

Please note: men are also subject to abusive behaviour. However, women are more likely to suffer physical and sexual abuse than men. Women who do physically abuse usually do in ‘battered women syndrome’. Equally men or women may become a victim of psychological or financial abuse. Therefore, even though this article positions ‘he’ as the abuser, it is also highly relevant for men who may be suffering relationship abuse.

If you allow an intimate partner to abuse you, you’ll suffer the effects of diminished self-esteem. If the abuse continues this may lead to feeling depressed and powerless which may also activate a condition known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Severe anxiety, crippling panic attacks and suicidal thoughts can emerge. If so, every aspect of your life will suffer. This is a dangerous dynamic.

Emotional abuse relates to mental and emotional abuse, and occurs when one’s personal identity, preferences, life and behaviour is being controlled mentally and emotionally by another person. Self-esteem and self-trust increased to a level whereby the victim becomes confused about ‘what is real’ and loses a sense of ‘how to be emotionally safe’. The abusive partner may be able to behave totally inappropriately and the victim of psychological abuse will cling desperately to the relationship in order to receive some sort of support, comfort, love or validation from the abuser.

Unfortunately many women idealise their men, and when you add that to the fact that she was swept off her feet by a guy she believed was ‘the one’, it’s easy to understand the stripping of her self-esteem (in the face of abuse). This will lead her to try to recapture the ‘amazing man’ she met and gain his love regardless of how he treats her.

Psychological abuse is a cruel dynamic and a very purposeful tactic employed by narcissists. This form of abuse is a common factor in many relationships.

Women commonly report that the scars of psychological abuse take much longer to heal than the effects of physical abuse. Many women who don’t access core level healing solutions remain mentally and emotionally damaged.

Psychological abuse can be very difficult to define, and can insidiously penetrate your life if you don’t know what to look out for.

The following types of behaviour all constitute psychological abuse:

  • Lying
  • Manipulating
  • Gaslighting
  • Interrogating
  • Persecuting
  • Demeaning
  • Intimidating
  • Threatening
  • Isolating
  • Blaming

The Effects of Abuse

If you have some or many of the following symptoms you are likely to be an abuse victim:

  • Agitation
    Fear, grief, nervous anxiety, ‘walking on broken glass’, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, paranoia, dread and anger.
  • Appetite
    Loss or increase of.
  • Loss of creativity and joy
    Depression, no interest in personal goals, loss of enthusiasm, loss of zest for life, possible loss of will to live.
  • Inhibited self expression
    Loss of interest in appearance, not comfortable in public, wishing members of the opposite sex didn’t exist, fear of what you say and do around people, agoraphobia, social disinterest, fear of body image, decreased libido.
  • Self-destructive behaviour
    Abuse of alcohol or drugs, promiscuity, feeling ‘addicted’ to abusive partner, suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  • Isolation
    Rarely see family or friends, mostly stay home, not allowed to go out on own, panicking if held back at work or running late for home.
  • Decreased coping skills
    Loss of decision-making ability, feel despair, rage or panic. Being overwhelmed. Bursting into tears, feeling numb.
  • Physical problems
    Adrenaline rushes, lowered immune systems, continual body aches, exhaustion, hyper-vigilance, hormone imbalances, migraines, backache, having accidents etc.
  • Sleeping patterns
    Insomnia or over-sleeping.
  • Focus on abusive partner
    Obsessing over what he’s thinking, feeling and doing, and formulating how you can employ tactics to reduce the abuse.
  • Confusion
    No longer knowing what to believe, doubting the reality of your life and environment.
  • Loss of faith in self
    Letting yourself down by continually forgiving and allowing abusive behaviour, losing boundary function, false hope, other people losing faith in you, inability to provide yourself with safety and stability.
  • Irrational behaviour
    Trying to control the uncontrollable, hysteria, feeling and acting manically, ‘losing your mind.’

Highly abusive behaviour leads to deterioration of self and often death by homicide, suicide or the contracting of a terminal illness. This is a serious matter.

If you know your mental and emotional health is suffering – something needs to change. The more you lose yourself, the harder it is to recover. You may be risking all that is dear to you and even your life.


6 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse : More violent than physical

  1. Pingback: Tracy's narcissistic/BPD rage episode at Richard (IN MY HOUSE)--and Richard reveals his own abuse--Tracy's Reign of Terror: True Story of Narcissism, Bullying, Domestic Violence and Child Abuse, Part 11 | Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

  2. Pingback: What does Healing from Abuse look like? Is it all about talking about memories of abuse? | Trauma and Dissociation

  3. I agree with everything in this article except for the title – ‘Emotional Abuse : More violent than physical’. When you are in a physically abusive relationship, you can bet your bottom dollar you are being emotionally abused as well. I didn’t lie awake at night terrified he’d wake up and create an argument over whether I was slut or not, even though that was a normal occurrence. I lay awake scared he’d wake up, have the argument and then thump me, because that was normal too, and as well as upsetting me and preventing sleep in the same way as the argument, it physically hurt. I’m not denying that people who suffer emotional abuse really do suffer. I’m just saying please don’t minimise the emotional abuse that occurs in physically violent relationships – or the emotional impact of being physically abused.

  4. Pingback: Emotional Abuse : More violent than physical – Allison Greenlee Filmmaking, Photography, and Writing

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