Breaking Free of Emotional Abuse

Do you feel trapped in a relationship where the normal range of emotions includes fear, humiliation and the feeling of being trapped? Do you feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner and have to deal with insults, intimidation and manipulation? Are you constantly being belittled and your opinions rejected, even scoffed at?  Are you struggling with your own self worth and feel the constant need for validation? You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Emotional abuse deals with eroding a person’s sense of self-worth and self confidence. Remember the sayings, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.”? Well, in an emotionally abusive relationship, this is far from the truth. Although it dwells mostly on the emotions and does not leave any visible wounds, the scars that come from years of emotional abuse may be harder to heal than physical ones.

Emotional abuse may be marked by aggression (constant criticisms, blaming, insulting and name calling), denial (seeks to deny a reality i.e. “That never happened.” “No one ever said or did that to you.” or giving the silent treatment as punishment) and minimizing (reducing the victim’s feelings as something trivial, where the victim is just overreacting). Emotional abuse seeks to marginalize one’s strengths while magnifying one’s weaknesses.

The result is that the victim feels not just hurt and angry, but also powerless and lacking in confidence. The victim may start accepting the emotional abuse as the norm and may have failed to give value to their own opinions, perceptions and feelings.  Over time, the abuse can produce serious psychological damage to the victim and can turn into an anxiety disorder or depression. The victim may also turn to substances such as alcohol or drugs to deal with the situation and may need the help of a Utah substance abuse counselor.

Usually, the one doing the emotional abuse is himself or herself a victim of such abuse. He or she may also have a low level of self-worth and may feel the need to put others down to feel good about himself or herself.

How do you know that you are in an abusive relationship?

Here are some marks of an emotionally abusive relationship:

–          Use of words that demean and insult, even if there are other people who are witnesses to it

–          Making baseless accusations

–          Denying something ever happened or if it did, that the victim is just exaggerating or being too sensitive about it

–          Arguments where only one party is doing the talking and never the listening

–          Insulting, demeaning or belittling the other even when the victim becomes upset and vulnerable to the abuse. Even as the victim starts crying or asks for a time out, the abuser continues with the behavior.

–          Refusal to be pleased by anything the other partner does or says

–          May also be sometimes accompanied by other forms of abuse (i.e. physical abuse or sexual abuse)

–          May blame the other partner for his or her infidelities

–          The victim may become increasingly isolated from loved ones and friends.

Please note also that the role of victim and abuser may switch, depending on the type of relationship. An individual who is a victim of emotional abuse with his or her spouse may be the abuser when he or she is with friends or loved ones.

Getting help for emotional abuse

One does not have to settle with a life marked by feelings of helplessness and humiliation. You can start to see your worth as a person and learn not to accept abuse but to assert yourself. One good way to begin is by going into therapy in Utah. If you are the victim of emotional abuse, it may be best for you to get counseling first as an individual rather than dragging your partner to go for couples counseling. With individual therapy, the victim may start the journey of rediscovery towards his or her sense of self-worth and self-esteem and learn how to assert himself or herself in the relationship.

Going for marriage counseling in Provo may work if both partners are willing to admit to the problem and to change. They can start by trying to identify the root causes of the abusive behavior and then learn communication techniques that do away with abusive language. However, that is usually not the case as the abuser may try to use the couples therapy sessions as a way to point the responsibility of the problem to the other party.

The comfort is that one can get out of an emotionally abusive relationship. A marriage should be a relationship that brings you joy, peace and comfort. If you feel otherwise, if you feel that you are being demeaned, belittled and if your self-worth is being battered, then it is time for you to seek professional help through counseling. If you know of someone who is in an emotionally abusive relationship, chances are, he or she may be hesitant to go for help. You may have to help by accompanying him or her to the counseling session and by supporting him or her throughout.

For those who are seeking help for emotional abuse in the Provo, Utah area, do try to contact Dr. Triston Morgan. Dr. Morgan is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a Ph. D of the same from Brigham Young University. Through his years of practice in the state of Utah, he has helped individuals and couples first discover who they are and how their relationships can be strengthened.


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