You should say goodbye to emotional abuse,
But how do you say goodbye to something that you weren’t aware of greeting hello?
Emotional abuse is like a silent assassin. It studies everything about you. Where you go, what you eat, what you spend on, what you do for a living, and from there concludes your behavior and choices on numerous scenarios. From the word “assassin” itself, it silently creeps up on you and it only has one goal: to kill you by feeding on your self-esteem and confidence.
Scary isn’t it? Emotional abuse is even scarier than physical abuse. Physical abuse leaves marks that you see. You witness it inflicted, and you watch it heal. For emotional abuse, you can’t detect it on your own. You don’t even know if it’s there, and you can’t stop the damage unless you’re aware of it. According to Healthyplace.com,
emotional abuse is defined as “any act, including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”
It is also known as psychological abuse or chronic verbal aggression in research terminologies. The abuse can happen to anyone, from children to adults. It also knows no gender, and does not choose a type of relationship. Emotional abuse can occur in families, friends, couples, workmates, and organizations.
People that suffer from this abuse have low self-esteem, show personality changes that are more aloof with their environment, and are prone to having depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies.
With these challenges, how do we detect emotional abuse? Here are the signs or examples of what an emotional abuser does:
- They yell or swear at you
- They insult you and call you names
- They exclude you from their social groups such as friends, family, workmates, and churchmates
- They isolate you from your social groups, making you avoid the relations you have before you met them
- They often threaten or intimidate you
- They humiliate you in public
- They deny the abuse they caused and blame you for their actions
- They control your family and social life, career, and finances
In some countries, causing emotional abuse is against the law. Here are the following examples of emotional abuse given by Justice Canada:
- Threatening of violence or abandonment
- Intentional frightening
- Making you fear for your basic needs such as food, water, clothing, shelter, and care
- Refusal of recognizing instances of abuse
- Telling other people of disrespectful or vilifying statements about you
- Isolating you socially—making you devoid of visitors
- Keeping important information from you
- Discriminating your language
- Intentional misinterpretation of traditional practices
- Repeatedly mentioning the issue of death
- Telling that you are troublesome
- Completely disregards or excessively judges you
- Disrespects you in language and action
- Commands you around inappropriately
And it doesn’t stop here. Emotional abuse is a cycle—continuous like the rotation of our planet. Here are more signs that you would feel once you are in an emotionally abusive relationship:
- You feel nervous all the time
- You feel that you’re not doing anything right
- You’re always frightened of what your abuser might say or do
- You do certain things that are out of character to make your abuser happy
- You avoid doing certain things that might make your abuser unhappy
- You feel like you deserve to get hurt by your abuser
- You sometimes wonder if you’re becoming crazy
- You feel numb, helpless, and/or depressed
These forms of psychological abuse will eventually eat up your self-esteem and confidence. Some people even experience Stockholm Syndrome, or revering the abuser because the emotional abuse has reached the point of removing their self-esteem and confidence.
So what can you do to prevent this from happening?
1. Cut off your ties with your emotional abuser
Once you recognize that you are in one, it’s time to remove ties with this person. According to Healthyplace.com, cutting ties with your abuser can be dangerous. If you cannot do it alone, ask for help from doctors, psychiatrists, counselors/psychotherapists, faith leaders, help-lines, womanslaw.org, and peer support groups.
2. Plan your emotional abuse recovery
Emotional abuse is like being brainwashed. Depleting your self-esteem and confidence may have caused you to feel that you deserve every bit of abuse that has happened. To recover, you must believe that you did not deserve any of that. NO ONE DOES. It’s okay to question it at times, but during these times, you must have your peer support group. I cannot stress how important this is. I was also a victim of emotional abuse, and it took a year for me to speak up about it because I felt ashamed of what happened. I felt ashamed of my inability to recognize it immediately, and to prevent it from happening. It’s normal to feel angry at yourself rather than the abuser. This is what emotional abuse does. But you have to understand that you are not to blame because you are not the one who did the abuse.
You are the victim and it is never the victim’s fault.
Talk therapy is very effective for you to release all of the pent up emotion. To move on from being a victim, you must accept that you have become a victim. Once you have accepted this, you can muster the courage to change what is into what will be: a better you. Although be careful with whom you talk with. Make sure that this person is someone who would give support and understanding with what you have been through. Not someone who will blame you. Most probably, this person who will blame you is also an emotional abuser. What do we do with people like that? Cut ties with them.
Aside from talk therapy, you must build your self-esteem and confidence once again. Self-esteem and confidence go hand in hand but they are two different things. Self-esteem is your opinion about yourself and your respect for it. E.g. You are smart, beautiful, strong, and generous. Confidence, on the other hand, is your trust and faith for your skills. E.g. You are smart in languages but you are not confident in Math. If you build confidence in your skills or activities you have not tried, then they will eventually become a part of your self-esteem.
You can build your confidence and self-esteem by focusing on hobbies, education, and career. You can start by listing what you believe you are good at, what you used to do, or what activities you would like to try for a change. Invest in time and passion in these and do not be afraid to make connections or conversations with new peers. You cannot heal in the same environment where you got sick. Absorb all the new possibilities and positive vibes ahead of you. Surround yourself with people you admire and people who make you happy. That way, you’ll also be successful and happy. Remember, the old quote, “birds of the same feather, flock together?” It is pretty true. Take this to heart and use it to heal your emotional scars.
To also help build your self-esteem and confidence, you must respect yourself. You might try a new environment but if you don’t respect yourself, it’s not going to work. How can you respect yourself? You can start by developing the list you did earlier. List your wants and needs. Listing these will help you recognize what you truly deserve. Once you recognize what you deserve, do not settle for less. Muster the courage to speak up for your rights. Emotional abusers are bullies, and how do we deal with bullies? We stand up to them. If you have trouble believing in yourself and your skills, start speaking up.
The more you say it, the more you’ll believe it is true.
Practice self-care. Without self-care, self-esteem and confidence gets depleted. To practice self-care, make sure you do things that make you happy.
- You are working. Work can be stressful but you can handle it when you have your favorite drink with you.
- When you bathe, it’s to prepare you for going somewhere. Instead of hurrying, taking more time with bathing can also make a difference if you have your favorite soap, shampoo, oils, serums, and essences.
From listening to your favorite music, up to eating your favorite pastry, all of these are forms of self-care. Self-care is the fuel that your self-esteem and confidence runs on. Make sure you have enough supply of it so no can ever pull you down.
Having a mantra might also help.
Tell yourself this:
I WILL HEAL
I WILL HEAL FOR MYSELF
I WILL NOT BECOME THE ABUSER WHO ABUSED ME
I WILL HEAL FOR MYSELF AND FOR OTHERS WHO CAN POSSIBLY BE ABUSED BY ME
I HAVE A CHOICE TO MOVE FORWARD
AND BE CLEAN FROM THIS TRAUMA
I AM BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT
I AM WORTHY
I DESERVE SO MUCH BETTER
If you still feel scared of taking the next step,
you might want to try spiritual guidance with Garnet and Opal.
Garnet is a healing stone known for protection from nightmares and bad omens. It is known for being carried during travels because it protects the owner from accidents. The stone will also release bad karma, and is a good stone for manifesting positivity, abundance, prosperity, and conjuring dreams into your life. That’s why garnet is often used to assist in businesses because it assists in an energetic level to bring you success by building your self-confidence, inspiration, and creativity. It can also provide the carrier with mental clarity about your life’s purpose.
For your mental health, garnet is a stone that increases commitment, honesty, hope and faith. The positive thoughts that you will attract through this stone will heal depression and help you overcome crisis and trauma. The stone is used in pulling you away from feelings of helplessness or victimization, and will instead shower you with courage.
Blue Opal, on the other hand, represents spiritual healing. It is believed to release emotional tension and bring inner peace. It is also effective for all kinds of communication. Therefore, allows openness and truth to be expressed in a calm and considerate way. Maintain good communication with your family, friends, romantic partners, social groups, and workmates using blue opal and you will surely be rewarded with strengthened relationships and bond with people.
Blue Opal is also used to heal trauma and low self-esteem. It releases negative energy to allow you to absorb more positive ones, and muster the courage to be yourself and increase you confidence.
You are not defined by your past. Let go of it, and move forward towards a better, healthier, and happier, YOU.
Words by Tina Macaraeg