Effects of Emotional Abuse: It Hurts When I Love
The simplest definition of emotionally abusive behavior is anything that intentionally hurts the feelings of another person. Since almost everyone in intimate relationships does that at some time or other in the heat of an argument, emotionally abusive behavior must be distinguished from an emotionally abusive relationship, which is more than the sum of emotionally abusive behaviors.
In an emotionally abusive relationship, one party systematically controls the other by: • Undermining his or her confidence, worthiness, growth, or trust • "Gaslighting" - making him/her feel crazy or unstable • Manipulating him/her with fear or shame.
Here are examples:
"You shouldn't spend so much on clothes, you don't look good anyway." "Don't complain about how bad you have it, no one else could love you." "Working and taking courses is too much for you; you can't handle what you need to do now." "Your friends and family just want something from you."
"I have to drink to be able to stand you."
"One of these days you'll wake up, and I'll be gone."
"You don't know the first thing about raising kids."
It's important to note that most emotional abuse is not as direct and verbal as these examples. All the above can be implied with sarcasm, irony, or mumblings and can be communicated with body language, rolling eyes, sighs, grimaces, tone of voice, disgusted looks, cold shoulders, slamming doors, banging dishes, stonewalling, cold shoulders, etc. There are a myriad of ways to be emotionally abusive.
In more than 20 years of working with abusive relationships, I have noticed a consistent gender distinction in the kind of abuse perpetrated. An emotionally abusive man controls his partner by manipulating her fear of harm, isolation, and deprivation; he threatens or implies that he might hurt her, leave her, or keep her apart from the things she loves. An emotionally abusive woman controls her...