“I have not been able to find out till date, how he can twist me around his fingers like a puppet and how I give in so easily to all his demands .It is only much later I would realize that I have been made a succor. He played with my emotions”, said Tina. Emotional abuse even though is visible and disturbing yet the victim finds it difficult to ask the perpetrator to stop and leave the victim alone. We all know that the abuse is real and we are being abused but we find it extremely difficult to come out of it. Abusive relationship is in true sense a violence of the soul and mind. Unlike physical abuse it does not hurt on the physical body parts. It hurts in such a way that the bruises and the blood don’t come to the fore yet it shreds the mind, emotions and the self respects to many uncollectible bits, leaving the victim broken in body mind and soul . Its impact can be every time more killing than the actual bullet is fired by someone. The abusive behavior is often directed at a weaker personality irrespective of the status, gender or creed or relationship.
The abusive behavior in marital relationship is often made a tool by either partner to control the other partner’s mind and soul. The advantages sought by the perpetrator could be to gain control over the victim for financial, emotional, psychological, social or simply sadistic pleasure. Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence, and it can have devastating effects on the physical, emotional and mental health of the victim more so if the victim is a housewife, as she feels threatened of losing her matrimony.
The first thing you need to understand is that emotional abuse is not so easily recognized by others as the one who indulges into it is always fully well prepared to go on the offensive, should the victim seek any outside help or interference. The others would be made to believe that you are creating difficult situation by your emotional weak mind. They are made to understand that you could be unnecessarily reacting to the situations which you are finding difficult to handle. You could be rather called the one initiating it. The abuser poses to be the victim here. Then again no law of the land looks at emotional abuse as a crime. You do not have any valid proof against the abuser as it is always done in such a manner that none other can come to know of it except the victim. At the basic level all forms of emotional abuse is an act of coercion, intimidation and suppression.
The victim of emotional abuse is often tortured so much that he or she begins to blame self for provoking the perpetrator. The victims are made to believe that they deserve the treatment that is being met to them. In the victim’s perception the villain deserves sympathy. In this manner the abuser becomes the person being sympathized with piety and kind attitude.
Over a period the victim starts thinking: I am definitely sick of my mind and psyche to have caused distress to the one who sympathized with me so much. One could never be more incorrect than this misconception. Such misperception can make one think that one is definitely suffering from psychotic issues and the thought itself can give severe depression.
How can one know one is being subjected to emotional abuse?
It is not necessary that only intimate and romantic relationship can bring about emotional abuse. The emotional abuse can happen between the mother-son or daughter, parent and the child, or vice versa, between the co-workers, between the friends, amongst the official relations or even casual acquaintances. But often the position wielding stronger power would indulge into such an abuse making use of the power inherent in the opposition.
Gender does discriminate when it comes to emotional abuse. Women tend to be more vulnerable than men to emotional exploitation by their men folk.
The ways the perpetrators make use of Emotional Abuse.
There are several ways by which emotional abuse can take place in relationships. Actually abusers may adopt multiple tortuous tools against the weak victims, to control their minds.
Threatening to either break the relationship, of leaving the person alone or even threatening to harm physically the victim or self ,defaming or spoiling reputation amongst the friends and family, of taking the kids away are some of the ways . Entire plan of the villain is to play vicious and manipulative mind games to create mental fear, awe and terror and kill the independent thinking of the victim.
Regular Fault Finding and Negation of Contribution
Regular Fault finding, pointing out shortcomings and negation of the person’s any and every act would upset even the most brave and positive person. The constant denial of any appreciation and consideration is a terrible abuse causing low self esteem and feelings of failure in the mind of the victim. Critical words turn into put-downs, which are not productive, it’s abusive. When someone is constantly putting you down or questioning your decisions, there’s a malicious motive behind their behavior.
This chronic shaming wears down the victim’s respectability ,self confidence, decision making ability, conative skills , reducing him or her to a mere moot spectator to the life and happenings around them. Criticism is often in the garb of taunts, challenges and ridicules to ensure the victim does not react and further gets drowned into the abyss of self insult and pity. For example a person may not be referred to as self respecting person but one who expects others to bow before him or her just because he /she thinks very highly of herself/himself.
Not respecting and responding to opinions and suggestions.
The abuser will have scant regards for victim’s any and every thought, suggestions opinions and would always use statements like,” you don’t know anything and hence don’t talk. A regular flow of fault finding, opposing and blocking, continues. The result of repeatedly having your opinions shot down or being told to shut up or that your thoughts don’t matter is that you stop standing up for yourself. You stop vocalizing your opinions. Ultimately no interaction can exist without open communication and the relationship breaks down.
Such an aggressive abuse can be quite negative. It can be as cruel as the abuser telling you that you are useless, time and again thus killing your sense of self worth completely.
Making one feel unwanted
A relationship evolves and flourishes when one person makes the other feel wanted and reciprocity is maintained. This is golden rule to sustain all successful relationships, be it parent-child relationships, lover- beloved relationships and or husband -wife relationships, and even siblings. When the child is accused, abused punished for no fault of the child, the entire sense of self esteem in the child’s mind suffers. The child feels insulted, demeaned, and feels threatened of being abandoned. Such a behavior by the parent, guardian causes emotional, psychological and mental damage to the child, cause extreme mental harm. This also occurs in intimate relationships in which the abuser continues to stay but repeatedly calls the victim names and makes character assassination or other such social personal insults to show that they have no respect for them. In any such relationship, the result is that the victim feels like no one else would want them either and that they are themselves responsible for such a grim situation.
Isolating the victim
The abuser makes sure that the victim is kept apart from friends or other family members .This is another form of emotional abuse. A child or partner may not be allowed to interact with friends. An elderly parent may be denied visits to and from family and friends. Without other healthy relationships, the victim becomes more and more dependent upon the abuser to fulfill his or her needs.This is unhealthy and destructive to their lives.
Partners or parents may keep the victim from getting a job, meaning they don’t form relationships with peers and they have no financial independence. Ultimately, losing the abuser would mean losing everything, even if the victim sees that the relationship is not.
Shifting the blame:
Passing the onus of doing everything and anything wrong on to the victim is one more of emotional abuse. Emotional blaming is a severe form of mental torture that results into emotional abuse. making the victim feel responsible for the acts , behavior not committed by him or her in another form of abuse, whether physical, sexual, or emotional. The perpetrator will make the victim assume or aver specifically that things that happened are his or her doing. Such acts behavior often takes place in privacy and hence none is in a position otherwise to refute the claim made.
How do I stop it?
The only way to stop such emotional abuse is to raise your voice against the abuse even when the others initially may not understand why you have complaints against such a nice person (remember the perpetrator will be always on the right side with others that matter) in the relationship.
Seeking a Family therapist
Reaching out and seeking a professional advice is away helpful. It is not necessary that your partner will agree but mere discussion with a professional family Therapy counselor will be empowering to identify your issues. Such professional counseling reaching out for help can show you a way ahead to deal with the emotional abuse.
Refusing to bow down to the tricks of the abuser and putting your foot down for such emotional abuse with firmness and finality will help. If it doesn’t, at least it will make the abuser clear that the games played by her or him have been seen through and exposed.
If you have such an abusive situation You should come to us at Family Therapy India and we will help you resolve all issues of your marriage in more amicable manner .Find us @ http://www.familytherapyindia.com.
Email us @email@example.com
–Ramneek Kapoor – Family Therapist, Psychologist Counselor and Science of Living Expert.