When someone affects your mental and emotional state in a negative way, you may be a victim of emotional abuse. Sometimes we feel under attack no matter how nice other people are being, but sometimes we are actually under attack by our parents, friends, lovers, coworkers, or strangers, and it can affect everything from our self-esteem to what we accomplish in life. Not sure if you or someone you know is experiencing emotional abuse? Following are 8 quotes that may make emotional abuse much more clear.
1. Aren’t We All Being Emotionally Abused?
“[Emotional abuse is] the demolition of someone’s identity. And it’s abuse of their psychological and emotional self.” – Dr. Liz Hale
Because the simplest definition of emotional abuse could be ‘hurting someone’s feelings’, it makes sense that everyone has experienced emotional abuse in their relationships. In fact, a case could be made that emotional abuse is in every relationship. But, there is a difference between emotionally abusive behavior and an emotionally abusive relationship.
For instance, if you and your partner are having a bad day, you may behave emotionally abusive to each other. Does that mean you are in an emotionally abusive relationship? Not necessarily. If your relationship is generally one of support, respect, love, trust, and acceptance than you can chalk it up to a really bad day with poor relationship decisions. However, if you are starting to feel drained by your partner’s hurtful words, rejections, silent treatment sessions, bullying, or threatening, then there is a good chance you are being emotionally abused.
The constant tear of emotional abuse will demolish your identity, as Dr. Liz Hale says. When you no longer feel like the person who entered the relationship and start to feel hopeless, lost, confused, or isolated, then it’s definitely time to look at your relationship.
2. It’s Not Just Men Who Emotionally Abuse
“It’s not just men who abuse. It’s women. We may not be able to physically abuse, but boy can we emotionally abuse a man.” – Dr. Liz Hale
I don’t agree that women can’t physically abuse men. They definitely can. But I do know many people who believe it, just like they believe that a woman is not capable of emotionally abusing their man.
That’s just plain wrong.
Women are just as capable of tearing down a man’s self-worth as men are of tearing down a woman’s self-worth.
We can all make someone feel ashamed, hurt, and belittled with our words. We can all be the abuser in an abusive relationship.
3. Can They Change?
“They can’t ever afford to be out of control.” – Dr. Liz Hale on who can’t change their emotionally abusive ways.
Dr. Liz Hale says that most people can stop their emotionally abusive behavior once they become aware of what they are doing and begin treatment to overcome it. However, she also says that some people can’t.
There are a few traits that someone needs to have in order to change.
- Motivation: They must be motivated to change, which means they need to have a reason to do things differently.
- Objectivity: They must be able to see what they are doing wrong and understand why it’s wrong.
- Self-Discipline: They must be able to practice self-discipline as they go about changing their behavior.
- Humility: They must be able to admit their mistakes, acknowledge they don’t know everything, and be willing to learn.
- Responsibility: They must be able to take responsibility for their actions and how those actions affect themselves and other people.
Therefore, if you are with someone who is not motivated to change, can’t see what they are doing wrong, rigid in how they do things, blaming everyone but themselves in life, and incapable of taking responsibility for their actions, change is not going to happen.
4. Are You Wondering If You Are Being Emotionally Abused?
“Anytime you ask the question, “Is this…?” I would seek an answer. I would let someone tell you.” – Dr. Liz Hale
The bottom line is that if you are wondering if you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, then you need to reach out and find an answer.
I can tell you that people in a healthy relationship don’t ask themselves if they are in an abusive relationship. They know they are not. So, the very act of questioning it is a big sign that you could be in an abusive relationship.
5. You Don’t Need To Know The Person To Experience Emotional Abuse From Them
“Bullying is emotional abuse. Nobody deserves being bullied and nobody has the right to bully and judge others.” – Agatha Chelsea
We are starting to understand the effects of bullying more and more. But, most people don’t know that bullying is emotional abuse.
In fact, according to this article, bullying may affect children worse in the long term than being sexually abused or neglected. Children who were bullied, but had a good home life, were more likely to have depression and anxiety as adults than children who weren’t abused but experienced child abuse.
As an adult who sees other adults getting bullied by strangers, the effects are obvious. Their self-worth, confidence, and happiness is affected. And that’s just what we see.
I’ve been bullied as an adult by people I didn’t know, and I can still remember those moments quite clearly. In fact, it still stings and makes me question certain things about myself. So, it’s clear to me that you don’t need to know someone in order to be affected by their emotional abuse.
5. In Fact, They Don’t Even Need To Be Talking Directly To You
“Hate speech is not free speech. It’s verbal and emotional abuse.” – Dr. DaShanne Stokes
Lately, this has been a big thing.
We can all go on Twitter and see a ton of hate speech. We can all watch the news and see a ton of hate speech. And it can affect us negatively. It can cause us to feel belittled, rejected, ignored, and threatened, which are all emotions that stem from emotional abuse.
It’s very sad when people in high power are emotionally abusing people who are listening to them, but it happens all the time.
When you take a look at what it takes to change, it becomes very clear that many people in power are not going to change.
It also becomes clear that many people who spew hate online are not likely going to change. They don’t seem to have the motivation, objectivity, humility, self-discipline, or responsibility to stop speaking in such hateful ways.
6. When Someone Is Making You Question Your Sanity
“Gaslighting. That’s what it’s called. The most awful form of emotional abuse.” – Thabile Ngwato’s reply to someone who said that the most dangerous people are the ones who hurt you then act like you hurt them.
Gaslighting means to manipulate someone mentally into questioning their own sanity.
If you are starting to feel like you are the crazy one, even though you know that someone in your life is abusing you, then they may be gaslighting you.
If someone tries to make you believe that you are wrong, even though you know you are right, then they may be gaslighting you.
For example, if you have someone in your life who is constantly putting you down and making you feel like you are not worthy of their love, and then you question that person about how they are mistreating you, and they tell you that you are delusional because they are treating you just fine, then they are gaslighting you. They are trying to manipulate you into thinking that you simply are unable to comprehend what mistreatment is.
If you are feeling uncertain about yourself and have started to fear speaking up because you are not sure if you are going to be right or not, then there is a good chance that you experiencing this extreme form of emotional abuse. It may be towards a lover, boss, friend, internet troll, parent, or coworker, but being unsure of yourself is a good sign that this happening in your relationship.
Not sure if someone is gaslighting you? Check out this article from Psychology Today to see some warning signs that you are being gaslighted.
7. Emotional Abuse Can Hurt You Just Like Physical Abuse
“Emotional abuse kills. The abuse might not be physical but being constantly wounded emotionally eventually wears out the heart and the body.” – Folaranmi
I know a woman who excuses her husband’s emotional abuse by saying, “At least he’s not physically abusing me!” But the fact is that he is physically abusing her in a roundabout way.
While emotional abuse isn’t leaving scars on the body, it is leaving scars internally. And we know that the mind-body connection is a powerful one. The impact that stress and low self-esteem have on your physical health is immense.
8. Putting An End To Emotional Abuse On Children
“Children often have more difficulty with [emotional abuse] because they are not cognitively developed and have an understanding of what is happening. They believe parents and adults so they don’t know who to talk to about it.” – Laura Kelly
As adults, we can recognize when someone is speaking from opinion rather than fact. We have the ability to not take other’s words to heart, because we know that some people are just mean, speaking from ignorance, or trying to hurt us rather than help us.
But kids don’t have that luxury.
Kids are not cognitively developed enough to really grasp what is happening when they are being emotionally abused. That’s why we need to step in when we see it and stop it if possible.
Teachers, parents, neighbors, family, friends, and strangers on the street should all be willing to interject when emotional abuse is happening to a kid. It’s not something that should be considered. It’s something that should be done to save a child from the agony of feeling worthless or confused or not good/smart enough.