If someone you love–including yourself–is being emotionally abused, you’ll find it mirrored here:
Abuse comes in several forms: emotional, physical, sexual, verbal. Often emotional and verbal abuse get erroneously played down. People sometimes falsely assume that it can’t be “that bad” and isn’t dangerous, but that couldn’t be more wrong. Emotional abuse is dangerous and it’s just as damaging as physical abuse. When I was in an emotionally abusive marriage, the words hurt more than any punch I could have suffered. In fact,
I remember saying at one point “I’d rather you’d just hit me. It’d hurt less.”
Constantly being berated, told you’re not enough, don’t know enough, don’t do enough, don’t look good enough wears away at your very existence. You struggle to keep your head and your self-esteem up. But after years of hearing how very insufficient your every move and word are, you start to wonder if your abuser might be right. They undermine you at every possible turn to achieve just that very mindset. And once you believe you’re nearly useless and can’t possibly function well without your mate, then they’ve got you where they want you.
Emotionally abusing someone makes the abuser feel better about him or herself. They are actually the person who feels less than, who believes they can’t function without you so they demean and belittle you to the point that you believe the same. It’s insurance. They want you under their power so you won’t leave, so you’re weak, so they can manipulate you at their whim.
The abuse can sometimes be subtle, laughable to the casual observer. The abuser may make a little joke about their mate’s cooking: “She burns water.” It’s a joke. It’s funny. We all laugh. The person it’s directed at may even laugh. If they get mad instead they’ll seem overly sensitive, they reason. But in reality, they’re really laughing so they don’t cry because they’ve been the subject of this “joke” at least a dozen times in front of family and friends and it hurts more each time. I know this because I was the butt of this particular joke. Those little dings in one’s self-esteem add up and grow into massive dents in their armor, and their ability to hold up and stay strong starts to diminish. It’s an incredibly lonely and isolating existence.
I was reading this piece on Live Bold & Bloom about this very subject of emotional abuse and it strikes a chord with me. I don’t want anyone–man, woman or child–to ever suffer any type of abuse and I’m making it my mission to get the word out, educate, help people detect those subtle remarks that may be harbingers to a future abusive relationship, and inform folks who may be concerned about a loved one dealing with this. Because I’ve been at the receiving end of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse I can speak with some authority on what it feels like to be the survivor. I say survivor because that’s what I am. I am no longer victim and I don’t want you to be either.
Get help. Seek counseling as a healthy first step in acquiring the tools you need to cope, rebuild, and survive. And while destroying you to the point your abuser can keep you under his dominion forever after is his end game, surviving is yours. So do that.