Understanding Emotional Abuse
Dr Jozelle Miller
February 11, 2020

Understanding Emotional Abuse

Often times, abuse is understood in physical terms. Most see it as the hitting, punching, kicking, etc. of usually the female partner by her male love interest. Little is considered of the other types of abuse, such as emotional, financial, psychological and even spiritual abuse. In this article, we will examine emotional abuse; understanding what it is and what makes it so dangerous.

Understanding emotional abuse is complicated. Emotional abuse is any abusive behaviour that isn’t physical, which may include verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation, which most often unfolds as a pattern of behaviour over time that aims to diminish another person’s sense of identity, dignity and self worth, and which often results in anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts or behaviours, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Emotional abuse is a serious form of abuse that may come before, during, or after periods of physical abuse. Emotional abuse is never the fault of the person subjected to it, and can have several long- and short-term effects.

Types of Emotional abuse:

A person may be subjected to emotional abuse from a number of different people throughout their life.

Emotional abuse has a number of potential sources. These include:

∑ parents

∑ romantic partners

∑ friends

∑ colleagues

Parental emotional abuse

People of all ages can be subjected to emotional abuse, including children. Contrary to what some people believe a relative, or close family friend, is more likely to abuse a child than a stranger.
Some signs of emotional abuse toward children include:

∑ yelling, bullying, or threatening a child

∑ shaming, belittling, or humiliating a child

∑ telling a child that they are worthless, a mistake, or bad

∑ giving a child “the silent treatment” as punishment

∑ limiting signs of affection

∑ exposing a child to violence against others

∑ calling a child names

∑ negatively comparing a child with others

Relationship emotional abuse

In romantic relationships, people who are emotionally abusive may not be physically or sexually abusive at first. However, emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse if the relationship continues down an unhealthy path.

Emotional abuse can take the form of name calling, demeaning, or any behaviour that makes a person feel belittled or worthless. In some cases, a person may start to believe that they are ugly or unwanted or that they cannot “do better” than the person they are with.

Marital Emotional Abuse

Marriage does not give anyone the right to abuse their partner physically, sexually, emotionally, or in any other way. The signs of emotional abuse within a marriage are similar to those of emotional abuse within a non-marital relationship.

Emotional abuse within a marriage may make a person feel as though they are worthless or do not deserve better. It may also lead them toward other unhealthful thoughts.

Emotional abuse in the workplace

Emotional abuse at work often goes unnoticed. However, it can occur in several different forms, from intimidation and deceit to shaming someone or making them feel guilty.

It could also manifest as a person being led to build false hopes and not having a colleague or manager to listen to their concerns.

Being subjected to emotional abuse in the workplace may result in unfinished tasks. However, more importantly, it can have deeper emotional effects on a person’s self-esteem and self-worth.