Emotional abuse is one of the most insidious forms of abuse because it is not always easy for the victim to understand or to prove. Often, the credibility and even the mental health of the victim are questioned, leaving the person feeling like they're either crazy or deserving of no better. Abusers will call their victims hysterical, dramatic or over sensitive. Do you think that you or someone you love might be a victim of abuse? If you feel that you are treated worse than you deserve, you may be right. Here are some telltale signs, and where you can go if you believe that you are being abused emotionally.
One of the hallmarks of emotional abuse is tearing apart the credibility of the abused. You are called crazy, lazy, sensitive or lying. You are called selfish when you go after your needs, or stand up for yourself. You are a victim of gaslighting, where your standards of what's normal are called into question by everyone else. If you feel like you are the calm, logical one, but are considered the crazy unstable one in your home, this is a good sign that you might be a victim of bullying at a minimum and emotional abuse as a possibility. If this discrediting is used to keep people from needing to meet your needs or consider your opinion, this is an even stronger sign.
Tearing Down Self Confidence
Often the reason that discrediting works in emotional abuse is that your self worth is called into question so often that you no longer feel like you deserve anything. Abusers will use words like useless and pointless when you share your ideas. Your needs are called selfish. They may, subtly or overtly, tear down the way you look, dress, speak and act. They may be especially cruel about the things you love to do or the people you love, making themselves the only thing of value in your life.
Threats to Emotional Wellbeing
The final trick of emotional abuse is to create an environment so emotionally unstable that you never feel safe enough to question your relationship. If you can't bring anything up without threats of a relationship ending, this is a telltale sign. Emotional abuse often lasts as long as it does. Abusers may tear apart the friends and family of victims to keep them from having other people to confide in. This further normalizes the behavior because the victim has nothing to compare with.
What to Do
If you think that you're a victim of emotional abuse, a counselor is a good place to start. They can offer an unbiased opinion of whether they agree that this is an abusive situation. They may offer you tools to help your relationship, or they may suggest you leave or even seek asylum from a shelter if you're in danger.