Sanctuary for the Abused

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Emotional Abuse or Going Crazy?

The blows of physical or sexual abuse are oftentimes obvious. Broken bones, bruises, and lacerations leave scars as evidence. Yet worst of all are the scars of emotional abuse - nearly invisible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, these can be more caustic, long-lasting, and life-altering than those left by any other type of abuse and the psychological damage the most profound.

What is emotional abuse? Sometimes called "Ambient Abuse," it is an extremely subtle form of control and manipulation that may go unrecognized for months or years -- many times even by those on the receiving end -- at least until it is too late. By the time the victim is aware of the actual abusive behaviors, she has oftentimes become a bundle of nerves and finds it difficult to see her way off the emotional roller coaster ride she's stuck on. Worse yet, she can't even explain what's happening to her, and in some cases, she may actually think she is going crazy; struggling with anxiety, depression, fear, or eventually -- apathy. She may quit doing anything, for fear of doing it "wrong" - at least according to the controller in her life.

Abusers and controllers may start out using little digs like, "Honey, everyone knows that you do it this way," as just another way to say, "How stupid are you that you don't know this?"

Constant criticism becomes part of the game. "You are too fat, dumb, ugly," or even, "I wish I had that abortion instead of having you!" These are all ammunition in emotional abuse.

Even teasing can be abusive, for it frequently has some truth at its core. Jane lives in a marriage where her husband's teasing-type cuts are constant. "The Ayatollah says dinner is ready," he announces regularly whenever they have guests. He thinks it's funny. She certainly doesn't. And what are we, the guests supposed to think -- that he is paying her a compliment? Absolutely not. I don't care how much he smiles or laughs when he throws it out there -- it is meant to wound. And she knows it. And he knows that she knows it.

Emotional abuse may take the form of the controller limiting the "victim's" outside contacts. "You don't need anybody but me," he may remind you constantly, and can actually get angry if you spend time with your friends or family, even on the phone. The more he can lock you away from your external support systems, the more he locks you in his boxx of control.

Deanna's husband tells her what time she can go to bed, what she is allowed to eat, and just how long she'd better be gone when she goes out to do errands. He never gives her a birthday or Christmas gift. He threatens to kill her and hide her car if she doesn't obey him. He makes her recite each day that she is worthless -- that he will tell her what she is worth, what she can and can't do, and who she is allowed to see when. This is obviously extreme emotional abuse.

Unfortunately, all these situations may seem extremely difficult to escape for the victim. The brainwashing of weeks, months, and years of constant demeaning remarks are meant to make her feel worthless and as though no one else in the world could love her. Thus, her fear of leaving exceeds the fear of staying, and even worse -- many times she blames herself for all that is wrong. Guilt becomes her constant companion. Leaving seems impossible. And besides, it's "not that bad." For if it were, there would certainly be broken bones to prove it. Or so she believes.

If you find yourself trapped in the boxx of emotional abuse, it's important to know you CAN escape! The long-term emotional damage caused by this type of situation will affect your physical as well as your mental health -- and that of your children. While there may not be laws protecting you from the constant verbal attacks, you do have the ability to recognize it for what it is -- definitely NOT something that goes hand-in-hand with a loving relationship. Furthermore, teaching your children that this is an acceptable behavior only leads them to believe that emotional abuse is an acceptable part of a normal relationship. Would you wish this for your child? Or your grandchild?

Mary Jo Fay is a speaker and writer. http://


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shared by Barbara at 12:24 AM



"Honey, everyone knows that you do it this way," as just another way to say, "How stupid are you that you don't know this?"

Wow, oh wow!!!! You completely stepped into my marriage of 20 years when you wrote this post. :(
Especially the above quote. That is one of the first things he would say to me.
"Well, if you would do it like how everyone else does it you wouldn't have a problem."

Anybody in a relationship like this, GET OUT! Don't wait around for it to change, get better or to fix him.
My husband left a year ago and after sitting scared since that time to file papers and get divorced, I am now ready to move on with my life and start living.

I just cannot believe this post...I cried all the way through. I became that 24 year-old again. :(

11:11 AM  

I was always told I never made any sense when I tried to talk to the ex. He always made fun of my nose,lips,etc. When I told him those comments hurt my feelings,he would get angry and say,"it's only a joke,why can't you take my jokes?"

It is good to be away from the daily put downs or ignoring me and the children.

5:44 AM  

Some common put downs that my husband uses are "It's not hard." So any work that you put in is all wasted. He says this when something IS in fact hard to accomplish. He'll also say, when I'm in the middle of a project, "that's enough now" like I'm insane with my standards or hard to please. Here again, this totally negates any work done and rapes me emotionaly in the process. AND this pits me against him. THIS IS ALWAYS SOMETHING A PSYCHOPATH NEEDS. SOMEONE TO BE AGAINST.

This is all inherent behavior. These psychopaths could be raised by wolves and know how to verbally abuse. PSYCHOPATHY IS A GENETIC TRAIT.

4:02 PM  

Responding to what diane says in the above comment. Yes, my husband too would comment on my nose, hair, eyes etc or look over my shoulder, to the right or left of me and on and on. So I would naturally turn to see if something or someone was behind me or brush at my nose to ensure that there wasn't anything on it. But this is yet another of their many evil mind games. And it is all nothing more than a way to get you to respond to them. They love to manipulate others. It's also a way to make you super aware of your looks. This can be a lifelong burden for those raised by psychopaths who did this. Made them so aware of every single movement that they made.

In the middle of conversations my husband would say some random insulting thing like "were your wrists always so thin?" and this was just a way to not only insult you but make you lose your train of thought and defend yourself. I now just ignore these comments and continue on. But, can you see that it is never ending rape and abuse? The never ending, all consuming rape of evil.

Dr. Hare in his book says something like if you feel you're being manipulated by a psychopath because they're making big gestures etc. just close your eyes and listen to their words. This has so helped me. Because my PTSD is so bad, my mind can just concentrate on the verbal and not have to also think of the visual. Psychopaths DO NOT like this of course. They deliberaltely use visual cues to control others. They can use verbal things as well and this is nothing more than a form of hypnosis. Not some magic trick, it's just how our brains work. If we concentrate on something etc. Please look this up for yourselves.

Dancing with evil. This is what you are forced to do when being in the presence of a psychopath. They lie, deceive, manipulate you from every direction. In his book Dr. Hare points out that it is NEVER worth it. Basically, whatever extraordinary gift a psychopath has ie. musical, artistic, intelligence, etc is NEVER worth the toll that will be paid when dealing with a psychopath.

9:13 AM  

being abused is not easy and it so very painful and it can cause you trauma and the worst is you became crazy because of what had happened to you. if you have known someone who has being abused look for a psychiatrist so they can do something about it.

5:55 PM  

My ex was very subtle. He'd do this shiver when he didn't approve. That's all it took. Even during sex.

9:37 PM  

Finally out. After 29 years of hell. Took another year after filing with his set backs, lies, continuances, THREATS, etc.

It was worth it. Now, to try to find a way back to me. No friends. No jobs. No "personal references."

Lots and lots of work. That I'm am more than eager to start.

5:59 PM  

I broke no contact with my ex narcissistic boyfriend after 2 months. I felt like I couldn't breathe like I was going crazy, indescribable. I never experienced any of this when I was with him. When I unblocked his number he contacted me. I feel so relieved and at peace. We had civil conversation and he said all the right things which I expected, I'm not naive I don't intend to take it further or get caught in the web again but for now I feel better. I have to gradually break away at my own pace. I don't think no contact is good advice for everyone. Cutting my self off was unbearable and too much for my mind to handle.

12:36 AM  

Please help me I have been married to a narcissistic man for 27 yrs. my whole life is hell an the funny thing is I loved him up till 2 yrs ago. All I want is out but I have no family no money r means of making money I'm 54 yrs old an my life is so over. I have no help from no one. I tried to leave I even got my own little house I was so happy. Then he started. Crying an begging an swearing it would be better. Then he went into a depression lost his job got elected an because of the fool I am I felt sorry an let him stay with me. My car got repoed an we fell deep into a hole a he drug me with him. Guess he was gonna make me pay for having the nerve to leave. Before I knew it he worked back into my life an all the abuse an control started not even a month later. Now I'm stuck again!! I just feel like giving up to a life of pure hell. I just need money an at 54 not much out there for me. I'm helpless an hopeless an feel like I will never have the life I dreamed of. Just mesery an fighting an pain. Someone please help me I'm drowning.

1:51 AM  

We saw a marriage counselor who specialized on anger management for a year. MY husband told me I couldon't bring up abuse or fighting because he had previously been arrested out of state for domestic violence and if I said anything the therapist would do a mandatory report and he would lose his job and we would lose everything. I would try to hint that things were bad, and the drwould say things like, he isn't a real abuser. My hustand is loving and lovable but he has a major anger problem that has only gotten worse. OCCASIOSIONAL holding me down "to protect myself from myself" has turned into pinching , poking, grabbing, squeezing of joints and bending of fingers. He has never punche'd or hit but he inflicts pain on purpose. I'M scared that he will lose it one day. I'M pregnant and terified. He screams at me so much until I'm sobbing and get pain in the uterus. I'm scared he will cause me to go into early labor. I don't report anyrhing to Dr's or other mandatort reporters because I don't want hid or my life ruined. I love him and he is a good person, but I need thinges to change. I'M at the end of my rope. I'M pregnant and keep having bad thoughts of hurting myself. I find myself resenting the baby and relatives who are in happy stable relationships. My life is gping to hell and on the surface it is all baby planning, registry, showers, etc. I used to try to leave when he would get really mad, but he takes my keys and blocks the door. If I try to call 911 or anyone, he takes my phone. I will try locking myself in the bathroom, but he uses a screw driver to get in and force me out. HE tells me I'm heartless with no soul and God will punish me. He knows I'm religious and this hurts so much. When I was little I used to have detailed day dreams/ nightmares about being in an abusive relationship. I don't know why and known it is strange.. now I think I never knew how bad it would be. I'VE tried hinting to family about it, but since I'm not ready to simply get out, it doesn't help. ONCE I told my mom and she said it was between me and my husband and she didnt want to be involved BECAUSE it stresaid her out. THAT broke my heart more than anything else. I have sought help from a professional and my own mother and it led no where. I think it might be my destiny to die from this relationship either from his anger ot my own desperate hand. I'm sorry baby, I never meant for life to be this way.

5:16 AM  

The pain in these comments breaks my heart. I don't know where in the world you are but I felt like you. People thought I'd commit suicide because I looked so trapped yet said nothing until I got away and they could see I felt safer. It was almost like they'd been afraid it would happen if they mentioned it. I was in my 20's then. I'm in my 60's now and my life is at a beautiful stage so when I remember when I thought it was as good as over, I'm amazed and saddened life could get so bad and yet, on the surface, my life looked like a life no different than anybody else's. Other women had husbands who beat them - was I luckier because mine didn't and used words and behaviour to cut me down instead, saying he loved me and doing the opposite? Was I ungrateful? I wanted more. Did I deserve more? It took good luck to get where I am but it was hard work too, and I couldn't give up totally. Everyone's road is different, but I hope your way out is choosing life.

10:01 AM  

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