“Emotional abuse is a devastating, debilitating heart and soul mutilation. The deepest lasting wound with any abuse is the emotional wound.” – Robert Burney, Author and Speaker

While women are more frequently victimized, men are also abused especially verbally and emotionally, although they can suffer physical abuse as well. There are not any obvious signs of an emotionally or physically abusive person; they often present themselves very well at first and often have the ability to turn their abusive behavior on and off appearing ‘normal’ to others. Emotional abusers seek power and control over their victim regardless of the damage inflicted on others assuming they are always right. There are people who emotionally abuse others because they are actually scared of being controlled themselves.

Emotionally abusive people have a few similarities regarding their behaviour:

• Everyone Should Always Give Them What They Want
• Controlling
• Superior Attitude
• Being Self-Centred
• Bullying
• An Attitude of Arrogance

Abusive individuals may have a particular type of Personality Disorder where a person develops hurtful and maladaptive patterns of thought and behaviour that impacts negatively on others. There are 3 main Personality Disorders linked to emotionally (and physically) abusive individuals:

• Borderline Personality Disorder: (BPD) Involves intense and unstable relationships, fluctuating self-perception and moods, often have poor impulse control, frantically avoid abandonment. Those with BPD have a tendency to be impulsive, can be suicidal or self-harming, feel inappropriate anger or empty and can be paranoid.

• Narcissistic Personality Disorder: (NPD) The person has a self-perception of perfection being grandiose and always seeking the admiration of others. They often exaggerate or lie about their own accomplishments, are arrogant, have a sense of entitlement, exploit others, lack empathy and envy others.

• Antisocial Personality Disorder: (APD) Previously referred to generally as Sociopaths, Those with this disorder have a disregard for the rights of others or the rules/laws of society. They tend to lie, be aggressive, disregard safety, violate the law and have a lack of empathy or remorse.

The majority of researcher’s and authorities agree that abusive personalities result from one or a combination of the following factors including:

• Personality Disorders
• Genetic Tendencies
• Sociocultural Influences
• Feelings of Inadequacy
• Unresolved Childhood Issues

Many men and women who have experienced a relationship with a narcissist, psychopath or other personality disordered types will describe taking on a parental role due to their partner’s constant childish attitudes and behaviours. In many cases, survivors describe willingly entering into a relationship with a disordered person believing or hoping their partner will change but end up resenting the parental role forced upon them. A relationship with these personality types often results in dealing with a partner who acts like a spoilt child or a disturbed teenager who lacks any emotional depth and psychological maturity. Often, they are superb actors or actresses and can wear the mask of normalcy for long periods of time; this is especially true when they’re seeking social approval or are in hot pursuit of their next potential victim.

Is it an Argument or Verbal Abuse?

“Some guys like to undermine a girl’s self-esteem with little verbal jabs. Eventually it all adds up. One bee sting doesn’t hurt a horse, but enough bee stings can kill a horse.” – Oliver Gaspirtz, Author

Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming; isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under the term of emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often use threats of physical violence or other types of threats if you refuse to do what they want. Some people believe physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse but this type of abuse is very real and can even be more damaging than physical abuse in the medium to long term.

Those who verbally abuse someone during a disagreement or debate have no intention of seeking a fair or balanced resolution. The strategy is to:

• Belittle
• Hurt
• Confuse
• Weaken
• Manipulate
• Control
• Destroy

Verbal abuse is psychological attack with abusers often telling their victims how they should feel and what to think with blame and intimidation used to manipulate and oppress. It is quite common for the abuser to get louder, aggressive and more expressive seeking to force the target into submission. The psychological and emotional damage caused by verbal abuse are not physically obvious but this type of relentless abuse eventually damages or destroys the spirit and self-esteem of the abused. Over time a victim of verbal abuse may alter behaviour, appearance and speech seeking to avoid any more conflict and insults. Victims can avoid family and friends and may begin to actually believe the emotional abuse and insults they been bombarded with. If you find yourself being personally insulted know the difference between constructive criticism and a verbal attack; do not delude yourself into believing you can change an abuser.

In the UK an amendment was made to the Serious Crime Bill during December 2015 targeting people who psychologically and emotionally abuse their partners, spouses, or family members. The amendment criminalises behaviour that is abusive, controlling or coercive. Victims have up to two years to report the crime. Psychologically abusive partners can face a prison sentence of up to five years in prison.

Do not respond to any verbal abuse. Remove yourself from the situation e.g. leave the room or leave the house. Have a back-up plan including a place to go e.g. friends, family, etc. If you are feeling vulnerable you can consider confiding in a friend or family member. Alternatively arrange to see a therapist or counsellor, contact support agencies such as Domestic Violence organizations support groups, emergency Hotlines and/or check out relevant websites.

If you suspect you are dating an emotional abuser stop seeing him/her immediately. If you live with an abuser there are various signs of an abusive relationship but the most telling sign is fear of your partner. When the abuser belittles you or tries to control you, there are usually deep feelings of self-loathing, helplessness and desperation. If you feel like you’re always walking on eggshells with your partner or constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid verbal abuse then your relationship is very likely to be abusive. If you live with an abuser seek support and begin planning your exit strategy; the abuse is not going to stop. Believe in your right to be treated with respect, nurture your self-esteem and protect your personal boundaries.

Nigel Beckles – Author