Emotional abuse does not leave external wounds that the world can see but the wounds left from emotional abuse are much deeper and lingering.
Psychological abuse or emotional abuse as it is otherwise known as can leave its mark on your mental, emotional and physical behavior. However, this is not the legacy that you have to live with. The road to recovery is not going to be easy but there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you choose to enter. Unfortunately, in the case of emotional abuse, most people do not wish to enter the recovery tunnel at all. However, you deserve much more than the long-lasting pain your abuser put you through. You deserve a life of fulfillment, love, and happy memories, not the scars of your past.
13 SIGNS YOU ARE A VICTIM OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE
In this article, I will be discussing tips to heal from a past experience of emotional abuse. If you are new or have come across my blog for the first time, please subscribe to guilt-free mind so that I can send you updates about new article releases directly in your inbox.
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Understanding that you are suffering from emotional abuse.
The first step on the road to recovery is understanding that there is a need for recovery. This is possibly the hardest step any victim of emotional abuse needs to take. Most often, people do not even realize that they are victims of emotional abuse. They will justify the actions of the abuser by saying, “my partner/parent/friend/relative has always been this way. This is the way they talk”. The reality does not surface unless someone points out the wrongdoings or shows them the mirror. Sometimes, people compare the behavior of their emotional abuser with other people and they come to the realization that something is terribly wrong.
Emotional abusers most often engage in following behaviors:
- They will attempt to control the victim
- They will dismiss the feelings of the victim as being a too sensitive or emotional.
- They will isolate the victim from family and friends.
- They will make the victim feel ashamed and constantly doubt himself or herself.
- They will call the victim names.
- They will withhold affection from the victim.
- They will shout at the victim or make threats.
Possibly the worst form of emotional abuse is gaslighting. This is when the perpetrator tells the victim that
- I never did that
- I never said that
- I never called you that.
Such behavior makes the victim feel that they are losing their minds. The victim starts to question their reality and sanity. It becomes hard to decipher what is true and real and what is false and an illusion. When the victim starts to question themselves, it provides an upper hand to the abuser and they take further control of the victim’s mind.
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Tips to recover from emotional abuse
The first thing that you must understand is that it will take time to recover. Physical wounds need less time to heal than emotional abuse. The scars of emotional abuse are much more damaging and disastrous. Here are some tips that will help you heal and lead a life of positivity.
Most psychologists suggest that a victim of emotional abuse should start journaling. Documenting your feelings helps you understand and analyze what went wrong. The purpose of writing is not to doubt yourself or your actions. The purpose here is to keep a record of what happened so that when you doubt yourself, you can look at your writing and see that you made the best out of a bad situation. When you will be able to confirm that what you remember matches with what happened, it will help you slowly reinstate your faith in yourself.
Stop blaming yourself
Most victims of emotional abuse are made to think that it is all their fault, they deserve all the wrong things that happened in their life, they are selfish, they only think of themselves, etc. However, all of this is untrue. It is not about you at all. It is about the insane need of the perpetrator to constantly have mental control over you. Thus, you should stop feeling that it was your fault that the wrong things happened in your past.
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If getting away is not an option, you should clearly state that they are not allowed to:
- Yell at you anymore
- Insult you
- Name call you
- Be rude towards you
- Be sarcastic towards you.
If they misbehave in any manner, you will leave the room or the house and the conversation will be considered over. However, you must follow through with your decisions and boundaries.
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Do not engage
Sometimes it is not possible to get rid of your abuser. This happens if the abuser is your parent. Alternatively, the abuser maybe your spouse and you both may have a child to take care of. Thus, there may be times when you have to interact with your abuser. Under such circumstances, do not give your abuser the satisfaction of getting under your skin. If your abuser tries to talk to you, do not respond. Whether to engage or not is your choice. Not choosing to engage will establish you as the more powerful of the two.
Your normal needs to be questioned
If the emotional abuser is your parent or if you grew up in an emotionally abusive home, intimidating, yelling, name-calling and shaming may seem like the behavior of a normal home. However, such behavior is not healthy. You should take some time off and reflect on what behavior is normal and what is not. If behaviors like shaming, guilt-tripping, blackmail, etc are common, it is not a normal home. Such an environment is toxic and hurts the emotional and mental health of the kid who grows up in such a family.
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Learn to trust again
Emotional abuse leaves a long-term mark on the victim. This mark does not fade easily. Unfortunately, people who grow up in emotionally abusive families learn that such behaviors are normal and are likely to display similar behavior once they grow up. Such people also find it extremely hard to trust others because they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. They expect everyone to either betray or use them at some point or other.
‘You’ should be a part of your to-do list
Most often, emotional abuse victims feel that people-pleasing is the right way to proceed in life. When love is subjected to conditions, people start expecting that they will only receive or are worthy of love if they prove their worth to others. Thus, arises the people-pleasing habits.
Caring for everyone is a good habit. But you should sacrifice yourself trying to care for others. Caring for the emotional, physical, and financial needs of others can overwhelm you to the point of exhaustion. Take care of yourself first. You are responsible for your care. No one else is.
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Make sure to add some self-care ideas to your regular activities. Your self-care options can be anything from taking a walk in nature to reading a book, playing video games, getting a massage, making a hairstyle, etc. These self-care ideas may seem silly to you. However, spending even a few minutes caring for yourself can go a long way in helping you heal.
Understand that fixing others is not an option
You may think that the abuser did what they did because of the trauma of their past. However, you are not responsible for fixing them. All you can do is live your life differently. The abuser decided to behave abusively with you. This was their mistake. However, you should not repeat the same mistake. You should focus on making your life fulfilling and fulfilling your desires.
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Ask for help
Most often, people tend to downplay the signs and symptoms of emotional abuse. They feel that if the pain is not extreme, it is manageable and they should handle the problem on their own. However, suppressing the feelings and downgrading them is not the right way of handling emotional problems.
When you ask for help, you provide yourself with compassion. Learning to live after suffering from an emotionally abusive relationship is not an easy task. There should be no shame or guilt involved in asking for help. If you are struggling to talk with people who are close to you, you can reach out to a professional. Contrary to popular beliefs, talking to someone who is not closely related to you is sometimes easier since the fear of being judged is less. When you reach out to a psychologist or a mental health professional, you must understand that they deal with victims of emotional abuse regularly. They will understand what you are going through even if your friends and family members don’t.
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As I mentioned earlier, the first step in recovering from emotional abuse is recognizing that you are a victim. Once you have conquered the first challenge, enlist the help of mental health professional to guide you with the rest of the journey. You are a very strong individual to have suffered through emotional trauma and still have the courage to move forward. Many people give up early on the journey itself. However, you did not and your courage is a testament to your inner strength. Do not let this inner strength diminish. You must focus on building it further and battling the scars of emotional abuse.
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