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Counseling Issues: Domestic Violence–Emotional Abuse

 Counseling Issues: Domestic Violence–Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is very hard to prove.  It is subtle, unrelenting, and lethal.  It is always incorporated into verbal abuse.  I hope that what you’re going to see as we continue these posts is that all forms of abuse are tied together.  Sometimes, the abuser is just a lot more effective at one than he is at another.

If your partner continuously degrades or belittles you,  that is abuse.  Even if he is not hitting you, it is abuse. Disrespect is abuse, There is no excuse for one partner disrespecting another.

Emotional abuse affects both physical and mental health. It wears the victim out to the point of complete submission. There’s just no fight left, and then the abuse becomes even more pointed and unrelenting.  Here are some examples of how it works:

As a result of this kind of treatment, a woman begins to distrust herself.  She sees spontaneous behavior as childish. She has a hard time caring about anything. She worries about every word she says, fearing it will be misinterpreted. She fears she may be losing her mind.  She may spend time trying to figure out what she does wrong, hoping that if she can change, he’ll be nice to her.  She has no self-confidence, but is full of self-doubt.  She develops a lot of negative self-talk: “I’m so stupid, I’m so dumb, I’m so inadequate; no one could truly love me, I have nothing to offer, I embarrass him because I’m too fat/thin/ugly/old.” The list is endless.

So, what’s a person to do when there seems to be no hope for change?

The best advice I can give you is to stand up to the bully.  A popular television psychologist has said that we teach people how to treat us.  If you have accepted the abuse and tried to improve, then you have taught your abuser that he can continue to mistreat you.

What do I mean by standing up to the bully?  Simple.  Most bullies are cowards.  They pick on those who are smaller or in some way unable to defend themselves.

Stand up. Refuse the bullying. Tell him you will no longer accept the abuse. Walk away if he begins to rant. Have your car keys in your hand, make sure you’re much closer to the door than he is, and GET OUT!  If there are children, get into your car, lock it, and call the police on your cell phone if you believe they may be in any danger.

You have to think ahead.  You have to be willing to leave for a while to let him ponder this new woman in his house. I’m telling you that he won’t change if you don’t change.  Often, when you stand up to a bully, he backs down. Bullying is all about power, control, and ego. Fight back. You’ll be glad you did.

I know I’ve made this sound far more simple than it really is.  At some point, I’m going to devote a whole post to ways you can fix an abusive relationship.

Come back next week to learn what mental abuse is all about.

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