10 Surprising Facts About Emotional Abuse

10-17-2014 10:05 AM

Emotional abuse is defined as verbal insults.

False. While that’s the most common definition, emotional abuse can include any of the following:

  • Intentionally embarrassing you.
  • Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
  • Telling you what to do and wear.
  • Using social media or cell phones to control or intimidate you.
  • Blaming you for their unhealthy behaviors.
  • Stalking you.
  • Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
  • Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about.
  • Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity.
  • Threatening to expose your secrets.
  • Starting rumors about you.
  • Threatening to have your children taken away.

An abusive relationship may start as the perfect romance.

True. Abuse doesn't always start immediately. At first, it can seem as though he’s prince charming. He may want an exclusive relationship very fast, and some women enjoy being pursued.

An abusive guy can seem protective at first.

True. He may call often to make sure you’re “safe.” He wants you to be available to him whenever he calls or stops by.

Many women don’t even know they are being abused.

True. It can actually seem normal. Emotional abuse can sneak up like an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas. Before the woman realizes, she’s trapped with seemingly no way out.

Friends and family may identify an abuser before the woman does.

True. Sometimes friends and family see things the woman doesn't. Maybe they've seen him out with other women. Maybe they've noticed his snarky comments. A woman in an emotionally abusive relationship may not want to believe the worst, so she may ignore comments from concerned friends and family.

Most abusers are alcoholics.

False. According to the Truth About Abuse 2013 survey, most abusers are not alcoholics. Even though the abuser may use alcohol, it’s not the cause. Abuse is about power and control.

Abusive relationships often include roses and promises.

True. Abuse usually cycles. It begins with a honeymoon phase that includes gifts, flowers, compliments, promises of change. After that, things may get tense. Abusers may make threats, become sarcastic or emotionally distant. Finally, the abuser may throw things, slam doors or use physical or verbal assaults. This cycle may repeat itself for years because the woman wants so badly to believe the honeymoon stage will last.

Emotional abuse can turn to physical abuse.

True. Verbal abuse can lead to physical violence if the relationship continues on its unhealthy path. It can sometimes take years for verbal abuse to turn physical, but it often does.

An abuser never apologizes.

False. In the honeymoon stage of domestic violence, abusers often apologize. They may begin attending therapy or church and appear to be sincere. These behaviors may actually strengthen the bond between the abuser and woman.

A woman just needs some good friends to help her end the relationship.

False. Although having a strong support group of friends and family is very important, sometimes it’s not enough. Emotional abuse victims often believe what they've been told by their abusers. They think they are stupid, ugly and unworthy of being in a relationship at all. If the abuse has gone on long enough, women may experience a host of symptoms including severe anxiety, insomnia or depression. Women may benefit by seeking help from a medical professional or licensed counselor.

Today’s guest post is by Rachel Madson Zarling. Besides being a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, Rachel is a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. She resides in Milwaukee with her husband, Jake, and son Mack. She has a master’s degree in community counseling and volunteers regularly with her local domestic violence shelter.