As sometimes happens, I’ve recently been having an epiphany about emotional abuse, and how bad it actually really is.
Emotional abuse (what’s sometimes also referred to as ‘psychological abuse’) takes many forms and is all too prevalent in modern society. As more and more governments have (rightly) outlawed corporal punishment, more and more abusive parents have resorted to psychological devastating tactics instead, to control and manipulate their children.
OK, they’re not actually beating them up with their fists any more, but the blows you can land with insults, mockery, threats and criticism can actually do even more deep and lasting damage, because you’re attacking someone’s soul, not their body.
My own ‘aha!’ moment came a few days’ back when I was pondering on why I’m finding it so upsetting that a distant relative has stopped returning my phone calls and emails. After a couple of years’ trying to figure out what I might have done to upset them, (and repeated attempts at apologizing for whatever it might have been) – I suddenly realized last week that the silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse.
We all do things wrong from time to time, me included. Emotionally healthy people can accept that, and they can explain to someone else why they were hurt, and what needs to happen for the problem to be resolved. Emotionally healthy people can also forgive others, and not hold grudges for years.
But when you’re not dealing with an emotionally-healthy person? Then, you can get tied up in knots of guilt and beating yourself up for making mistakes, and not being perfect, and not being able to always give other people what they want and expect from you – and the emotionally abusive person will encourage this behavior in a myriad ways.
Because they want you to feel bad, and inferior, and worthless and unforgivable, because it puts them in a permanent position of control and superiority.
Once I realized what’s actually going on with my emotionally abusive relative, it was like a huge weight dropped off my shoulders. I’m not bad! I’m not evil! I’m not to blame for the fact that they cut me out of their life without any explanation or chance to make amends for whatever it is I’m meant to have done to them!
Phew, what a relief!
Thank God they’re not talking to me!
So this week, I’m on a mission to explain what emotional abuse actually is, why it’s so prevalent, and why it’s so bad, and what you can do to start getting away from its pernicious effects in every area of your life.
In the next post, I’ve got an infographic treat for you on the subject, so keep your eyes peeled!