Emotionally Destructive/Abusive Relationships

Emotional abuse is any kind of abuse that is emotional rather than physical in nature. With emotional abuse, unlike physical abuse, the people doing it and receiving it, may not even know it’s happening until much damage has been done. Emotional abuse can happen between parent and child, husband and wife, among relatives and between friends, between an employer/employee and there is also spiritual abuse from leaders in authority as well.

Emotional abuse is like a kind of brain washing. It subtly over time, changes how a person sees themselves and  it allows things that are untrue to define who the abused person thinks they are. Emotional abuse destroys a victim's self-confidence and sense of self-worth. The abuser often twists things, denies things, minimizes or turns things around so much, that the victim feels like they are going crazy and makes the victim question and mistrust their own perceptions and emotions. The abuser usually makes it known, they do not think they are the problem, it is the victim that is the problem. The abuser rarely takes responsibility for their abuse. They usually deny, deflect or minimize their actions.  In emotionally abusive relationships, one person controls the other by undermining his or her confidence, worthiness, growth, trust, or emotional stability. The abuser can use one or many tactics to abuse.These include verbal abuse, constant criticism, intimidation, humiliation, manipulation, refusing to ever be pleased, berating or belittling or taking the position that they know best. Sometimes the abuser says they are only being "helpful" by guiding, teaching, or giving advice. An abuser can use other tactics as well, including refusing to listen, refusing to communicate, or emotionally withdrawing or giving the silent treatment.

Verbal abuse is not always about the words that are used but about the effects of behavior. An abuser can say the most loving words with sarcasm and silently communicate contempt through body language, rolling eyes, sighs, grimaces, tone of voice, disgusted looks, cold shoulders, banging dishes, etc. There are dozens of ways to be emotionally abusive.

With physical abuse, often the victim does not blame themselves...or it's easier to see that  the abuser has a problem. It should be noted though, many times the physical abuser will often try to make the victim feel like they are  indeed the problem and  that the victims behavior made the abuser hurt them. With emotional abuse, the victims usually blame themselves. Emotional abuse makes a person feel stupid, incompetent, not worth attention or that no one could love them. It creates a cycle of trying to do better and be better and puts the victim on a treadmill of  trying to be perfect so they will gain approval and love and so they can make things better in the relationship. Unfortunately,  even if they do everything "right", the abuser will still find things to complain about or find fault with...thus, it makes the victim believe that they are the problem. Emotional abuse breaks your spirit. It makes you feel like you are walking on egg shells and it makes love hurt. 



















Segment 1 of 3 of the The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. www.leslievernick.com

Leslie Vernick, counselor and social worker, has witnessed the devastating effects of emotional abuse. Many, including many in the church, have not addressed this form of destruction in families and relationships because it is difficult to talk about.

Pt. 2 How to stop the Emotionally Destructive Relationship

Part 3 How to survive the emotionally destructive relationship \by Leslie Vernick