What is Emotional Abuse?
Any behavior that is aimed to control and subjugate another person through the use of fear, humiliation, verbal and physical assaults is abuse. Constant criticism, making snide remarks, verbal threats and manipulating another person’s decisions in the disguise of offering advice all are emotional abuse. Research proves such behavior systematically erodes the victim’s self concept, self esteem, self confidence and self worth thus emtional abuse is regarded as the most destructive of all types of abuse.
Types of Emotional Abuse
Aggression is both direct and indirect. Calling names (you are selfish, conniving, very smart etc.), making accusations (you did X on purpose, you want my parents to die, you want me to break off from my parents etc.), threats (do X or else I’ll …, stay in your limits of I’ll teach you a lesson etc.) and ordering around is direct aggression. When someone’s criticizing, questioning, analyzing, probing, advising and offering solutions that feels over bearing it is indirect aggression even if they mean well. It feels they are belittling or controlling the other or are insisting ‘I know best.” In such situations the abuser demand undivided time and attention. In Indian context this may appear as “let me do that or you’ll just spoil it,” “Oh! you can’t even do this,”I know what is in your heart,” “I want you to do this now or else…” etc. Often
Refusal to acknowledge how you feel such as, when you confront the abuser they may say “I do not know what you are talking about,” “I never said that,” “I was just joking,” etc. Refusal to listen to your view point (“You mean I should not meet my parents/friends” etc. even when you did not say that) or ignoring your concerns (“you are just exaggerating there is enough money in the account “etc.), feelings and treating you like an extension of themselves (making decisions without consulting you eg. “I told them she’ll do it,” “You have to do it because I gave a word” etc) is denying. We are a couple so we should think and feel alike. Refusal to talk or listen to you, withholding affection as punishment is also part of denying. Giving silent treatment to the abused on her/his refusal to abide by abuser’s wishes/commands.
Minimizing is a form of denial. The abuser accepts that the said event occurred but denies how the abused feels. For example, “you are being too sensitive,” “you are too touchy about particular topic,” “you misunderstood me my English/Hindi/X language is not so good” etc. thus implying recipient’s emotions and perceptions are faulty or inconsequential.
Click to read How Abuse Begins…