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What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is not something that is visible on the outside, but leaves emotional wounds and scars behind. It is difficult for these wounds to heal, especially when the abuse has taken place early in life. Emotional abuse can go unnoticed for a long time by the victim, as well as by the outside world. It’s this what makes this type of abuse very damaging.

For people who grew up under these circumstances, it can take a long time before they realize that this type of behavior coming from a parent is not normal. An unsafe home environment is always ‘normal’ for children. When a child has no healthy role models, it doesn’t learn what is normal. This can also result in the child never learning how to develop an own identity and create a healthy life. This can then be the cause of many problems later in life.

A victim of emotional abuse?

These difficulties can show up within relationships or through fears, addictions, physical complaints, feeling numb or apathetic. This can all indicate that you are, or have been, a victim of psychological and emotional abuse. It is also possible that a parent, partner or child has an undiagnosed personality disorder. Alcoholics can also be emotional abusers, as well people who have experienced some kind of brain damage or have mental-health issues. The term COPMI-child refers to Children of Parents with Mental Illness. Many therapists specialize in helping people who experienced a childhood with a parent who suffered from a mentally illness. 

While it may not always be clear which diagnosis someone may have, harmful behavior towards another can be considered emotional abuse. In these kinds of situations, it is vital that the victim can recognize what is happening. In order to free yourself, it is very important to first gain awareness of the situation you are in. If you feel that you need to reach out to get support, connect with a psychotherapist or trauma therapist to start your journey towards healing.

Written by: Natasja Paskas, certified therapist.


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