If someone were to walk up to you and slam you in the face, it would be obvious to all who witnessed the attack and even to you, that you had been a victim of abuse. As the welt on your face began to swell, others would more likely than not offer you their empathy, quick to rise to your defense. In your mind would be no doubt that you had in fact been abused. Like a simple math equation, you would simply know this to be true.
However, when in the case of emotional abuse, the obvious is not as apparent as the big red bruise on your face. In fact, when we are being emotionally abused there is no evidence to others; no welt to point to. Emotional abuse takes place behind closed doors and on the playgrounds of our minds. There are no witnesses, no bumps or bruises to point to.
Emotional abuse is used as a manipulative tool by others to gain control over our actions, thoughts and feelings. Sometimes the abuse is obvious like when we are being called filthy names, or are being dehumanized with violent words. But sometimes the abuse is more insidious than that. Sometimes the weapons used are masked in what seems to be harmlessness.
Guilt is a form of emotional blackmail used by manipulative personalities in an effort to gain control over another. Manipulators tend to use phrases like, “you should have… how could you… what were you thinking… what about me… you should never have… I would have never done that”, and so on. Their intent is not aimed at clearing the air between he and the person he is dealing with. Instead his intent is to cause the person he is dealing with to doubt their own feelings.
There are various forms of emotional abuse. They range from blatant violent language, to the use of guilt as a weapon and also might include withdrawing techniques. In most situations it would seem that the person who is doing the most talking in a conversation is the one controlling it. But not always. In some cases it is the quiet one who is using a shut down and take the ball home technique called withdrawing that is attempting to manipulate the other.
The ability to directly and honestly communicate with another is a life skill that sometimes takes a lifetime to learn. Sadly many of us have been conditioned since childhood to find alternative ways to get our emotional and psychological needs met. As children we learn to whine, yell, guilt and even sulk to get our way. Unfortunately many adults never move past these forms of communication, and instead revert to them when faced with a situation or person they cannot control.
The goal is to learn to first be honest with ones self. If you use these immature tactics to get your needs met or to simply get your way, accept it and then change the way you relate to others and your self. If you find others using these types of techniques on you, you do them and the world a huge favor by pointing it out so that they might have a chance to grow as well.
In some serious cases, the abuser we are involved with does not want to change. And as we continue to want more from ourselves we expect more from others.
As one of the two players involved begins to wake up, the gap between the two involved grows wider, as one stays stuck and the other refuses to not move forward. When this gap begins to widen, havoc begins to appear. Because the rules by which the two have been living are changing, fear of the unknown often brings to the surface anxiety and anger.
I am an emotional abuse survivor and know this scenario all too personally. I am here to inspire those going through what I did by telling my truth. It gets better. It always gets worse before it gets better, but it does get better.
The road home starts with you. One dose of self awareness at a time. Eventually the lights in your mind turn on and the boundaries that have been crossed begin to get clear. In time learning to hold onto ones self gets easier.
If you are the victim of emotional abuse or if you emotionally abuse others, life can change. But if you can’t see it, you can’t change it. My hope is that by spreading the word, true change is possible for us all.