Emotional abuse is real – You are not crazy!

OUR FRONTLINE PEOPLE ARE OUR FIRST RESPONDERS, AND OUR MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ARE OUR LAST RESPONDERS.

Not all wounds are visible!

Emotional abuse is real, and it requires recovery from the lasting post traumatic stress that a human endures as a result of it. As mental health professionals, we have been supporting people with the relationships in their lives throughout the years, and ultimately of course, the relationship they have with themselves. Life can be hard enough at times.

Having solid, loving, kind, caring, compassionate, supportive relationships around us, makes life bearable through difficult times. We all have a right to live our lives in peace and harmony, and support and kindness is vital to our mental health and our recovery when we are struggling.

It can be hard living in such close proximity with those we share our lives with. It can be challenging for even the best of relationships. But what if that relationship was challenging long before this lockdown? There is a rise in abuse within abusive relationships and people are struggling. Physical abuse is never acceptable. It is a criminal offense to cause physical harm to another human being.

Reporting physical abuse is always difficult for the person abused. There is a long history of psychological abuse before the physical abuse ever took place. So to say to someone to leave a physically abusive relationship is not the answer. If it were straight forward, no one would suffer from ongoing abuse. The victim is trauma bonded with the abuser. They are so psychologically enmeshed through years of emotional abuse that they do not know what is acceptable behaviour anymore.

There is also a rise in emotional abuse. It is just as damaging to the person being abused as physical abuse. In most cases, it precedes physical abuse. The brain does not register emotional suffering any differently than it does physical suffering, so by the time physical abuse comes along, the brain is already traumatized and has developed a place of dissociation in order to survive.

The abused is already attached to the perpetrator by a psychological trauma bond. The real damage is that the person being abused is living in a dissociative state 24/7. The Domestic Violence Act 2018 saw reform around coercive control within relationships. Emotional abuse is also a criminal offense.

Emotional abuse is real and is as psychologically damaging as physical abuse. In some cases, it may even be more damaging as the victim has no marks on their body as evidence of the emotional assault that just took place. Many perpetrators never raise their hand to their victim, they don’t need too. They’ve already achieved the desired result. Their victim is frightened and walking on eggshells around them.

Fear has already been generated, the one true goal of the perpetrator. It is as important for someone to feel emotionally safe with the person that they’re relating with as it is to feel physically safe. Fear is generated by the perpetrator into the victims psyche in order to control them. The true crime, coercive control.

There are a lot of myths around relationship abuse. It is not just the horror story of a victim beaten to within an inch of their life, although that is horrendous and completely unacceptable, abuse is also the person sitting at home with their head in their hands crying alone because their partner has withheld any kindness towards them. It is also been punished further by their perpetrators silence or comments like “you’re over sensitive” when they try to find resolution.

Any validation or appreciation of who they are as a human being is withdrawn from the relationship. Eventually, the victim stops looking for any of their basic needs to be met within that relationship. They are being emotionally abused, and recovering from that level of coercive control takes time and healing.

We all have a right to be treated with basic kindness and compassion. Think about someone you love dearly, it could be a daughter/son, sister/brother, a family member, a friend? Would you like them to be spoken too or treated in the manner that you are been spoken to or treated right now within your relationship? You have your answer! You just may not know what to do right now. And that’s completely ok and understandable.

Don’t do anything right now. Just allowing yourself to see that you are living your life in a way that is abusive is the start of your recovery. You’re now in your right mind. From that place, you’re going to find your answers. But you are not mad, not needy, not over-sensitive, and most of all, you are not the problem. If someone treats you in a way that is emotionally cruel, then they are the problem.

And today, you have moved towards being a part of the solution for you by acknowledging that you have a problem here. You have accepted less than you know you’re worth. You are trauma bonded with your abuser. It has been going on for so long that your brain developed blinkers just so you could survive the abuse.

A trauma bond is a bond that forms due to repetitive emotionally abusive experiences with a toxic person. Similar to Stockholm Syndrome, it holds you emotionally captive to a manipulator who keeps you “hostage” – whether that be through physical or emotional abuse. The way out, is recognizing this IS your truth. You don’t have to walk away, you don’t have to sort this out right now, all you have to do it breathe, and acknowledge your truth. Everyone can change, everyone can grow, even the abuser. Awareness is key. Educate yourself by enquiring and educating yourself further.

There is so much information out there on the web about emotionally abusive relationships. Start healing your life by searching. You’ll realize quickly that you’re not going crazy. Look at your part. What is it about you that allows yourself be treated less than you once knew you deserved. Grow you to strength through self awareness. Find a good therapist to support you with the changes you want. And if you’re in any danger, emotionally or physically, reach out immediately. Please, do not struggle alone. Don’t feel ashamed. Many many very well people end up in abusive relationships.

Emotionally abusive relationships have no attachment with economic, geographic, race, creed, gender, etc. it happens right across the board and it can happen to anyone, regardless of your background or life experiences. Emotional abuse happens because there are human beings in this world who operate by controlling the human beings in their world. And a unhealthy and abusive relational dynamic is formed. It really can happen to anyone, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

If it feels crazy, then it is crazy. If it’s hard work, then it’s not working. And when it’s not working an intervention is required. It won’t change on its own. The intervention required right now, is what you’re doing right now – reading this article. Educating yourself about emotional abuse. Don’t struggle alone, don’t continue to cry alone, there are people out there who do understand and will help you. If you don’t know where to begin talking, don’t worry, mental health professionals do. That’s what we’re trained for.

Emotional abuse isn’t as clear cut as the other abuses, but it’s as deadly. It destroys the very soul of the human suffering under that abusive regime of never having emotional security and constantly surviving in hyper vigilance of another person’s moods.

Because of its insidious nature it can stay under the radar for years allowing its victim to never get the help they need, and allowing the perpetrator to continue traumatizing their victim. Emotional abuse is never ok. You made the first step by reading this. If that’s all you do today, that’s more than enough.

We want to leave you with this message: You are a beautiful and worthwhile human being. You are an intelligent human being and you are not stupid. You have a right to experience what is true for you without been criticized or minimized or told how you got it wrong. You have a right to your voice and your opinions without being attacked, punished, ignored or blamed because you questioned something. You have a right to be valued, acknowledged and appreciated for what you do and achieve, and for what you bring into your relationship. You have a right within your relationship for a space where your physical and emotional needs are met too. You have a right to be emotionally supported if you are sick.

You are a valuable human being deserving of encouragement, support, and compassion. You do not lack a sense of humor because you feel like crying rather than laughing when another belittles you and tells you they were “only joking” and you need to develop a sense of humor. You have basic human rights to be treated at all times with kindness, respect, and dignity.

Breaking the silence of emotional abuse is the start of the recovery process. If anything in this article resonates with you, either as a victim or a perpetrator, you’ve begun the journey towards healing. Don’t let the cycle of abuse continue.

If you, or someone you know, is existing within abusive relationships, the link below has phone numbers and important information that may be helpful to you.

And remember, no matter how lonely you might feel right now, YOU are not alone.

Stay as safe and well as you possibly can right now.

Reach out, you don’t have to struggle alone.

With love from us all at Alethea 🧡

https://www.hse.ie/eng/about/who/primarycare/socialinclusion/other-areas/domestic-violence/