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Emotional Abuse How Does it Feel? How Can You Heal?

Living as a battered victim is undoubtedly intensely damaging. But what about the less outward-appearing emotional abuse?  Emotional abuse is no less subtle or damaging than overt physical abuse.

 “Let’s look into the signs.  Are you made to feel afraid (of your partner or that your children will be taken away), humiliated, yelled at, careful of what you say, put down or unjustly criticized, forced to have sex,  isolated from your family and friends?  Do you feel that you are to blame, unappreciated, inferior, wonder if you are crazy?” ( Melinda Smith, M.A., and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. in, cited in Matthew Hunt, Domestic Abuse- the hidden underbelly of emotional abuse,

How Does It Feel?

Caroline Abbott, “How does verbal and emotional abuse make a person feel? Some people feel as if they are “going crazy”. Here is the way it is described in the book, Stop! You’re Driving Me Crazy, by George R. Bach and Ronald M. Deutsch.

  • You are always thrown off-balance. You may be confused, and never be able to get a handle on the problem, though you might spend hours a day trying to figure it out.
  • You have “redundant, spinning circles of thoughts.” You feel disconnected, confused, and disoriented. You wonder if something is wrong, but aren’t able to put your finger on what it is.
  • You feel that your world has become chaotic, and you can’t make sense of it.
  • You walk around with an uneasy, weird feeling of emptiness, or feel generally “bugged” whenever your abuser is around. You feel pushed around and not in control of your own direction. Sometimes you have a strong wish to get away, yet you feel frozen and unable to move.
  • You begin to lose your self-confidence and start to doubt yourself. You lose your spontaneity and enthusiasm for life, and feel you must always be on-guard.
  • You start to feel uncertain about how other people read you, and you distrust your relationships.
  • You start to believe that the things you actually do best may be the things that you do the worst.
  • You develop an internal “critical voice,” and are reluctant to accept your own perceptions because they always seem to be wrong.” (Caroline Abbott’s Blog, How Does Verbal and Emotional Abuse Make You Feel?,

Recovery- Seeking Therapy

Natasha Tracy,

Going as a couple,

“Sometimes, the victim is able to coerce the abuser into emotional abuse treatment either in a couple or individual therapy setting. This is rarely helpful and can actually harm the relationship. In couple’s therapy, the abuser has the chance to misrepresent themselves, paint themselves as a victim and charm the therapist into believing there is nothing wrong with them and indicating that the victim has all the problems. Only if the emotional abuser acknowledges that they have a problem with emotional abuse and are prepared to openly deal with it can emotional abuse therapy even have a chance to be successful? Most emotional abusers are not prepared to admit their behavior to a therapist, however.

Going alone,

“Emotional abuse treatment for the victim has a better chance of being successful but only if the victim is prepared to be as open and honest as possible about the abuse. Many emotional abuse victims hide the abuse or the extent of the abuse, even from therapists, due to their own shame and guilt. An emotional abuse therapist though can only help when they truly understand the problem.

Emotional abuse therapy aims to rebuild the self-esteem and confidence of the victim. It also works to identify healthy relationship principles such as relationship roles, rights, and responsibilities. Therapy for emotional abuse also helps in developing emotional intelligence, learning to set boundaries and modifying behavior.

When seeking emotional abuse therapy, it’s important to remember:

  • The abuse is not your fault, you did nothing wrong
  • Feeling guilt and shame over the abuse is normal but it isn’t warranted
  • The desire to hide the details of the abuse is normal but will be counterproductive in treatment
  • Even if you don’t leave the abuser, it’s okay to get help”

(Natasha Tracy, Emotional Abuse Treatment and Therapy, Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD,  Healthy Place)

Your therapist works with you to mutually tailor the approach which best meets you individual, personal needs.  Remember, talk therapy is not just talk.  It is the relationship that heals.

Whether currently in an abusive relationship or having left one, this is where Counseling on Demand comes in.

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