For many people, when they think of abuse, they think of physical abuse. But while physical abuse is the most visible form of abuse, it is not the only type. Emotional abuse is the type of abuse in which a person uses actions, words, or a lack of words or emotion to cause a person harm. While there may not be physical bruises, people who are victims of emotional abuse suffer mental scarring that is just as traumatic. Because of the lack of visible evidence, it can be difficult to detect when a person is being traumatized in this manner. The best way to recognize this type of abuse is by understanding the signs of emotional abuse.
The Signs of Emotional Abuse
The signs of emotional abuse are actually easy to spot if you know what to look for. People who are victims of emotional abuse often display certain behaviors and traits. These indicators of emotional abuse include depression, anxiety, tiptoeing around one’s partner, fear of one’s partner or spouse, blaming oneself for things that go wrong in a relationship, a constant need for their partner’s approval, and feelings of shame. Children who are victims of emotional abuse may display symptoms such as being cruel to others, behaving negatively or in a destructive manner, or being extremely demanding. They may have shy or passive personalities, or they may be highly aggressive. Other indicators that a child is experiencing emotional abuse include anxiety, low self-esteem, passiveness, suicidal tendencies, fearfulness, and depression. They may have feelings of shame and social isolation.
Specific Behaviors and Actions
Emotional abuse involves certain behaviors or actions that threaten, frighten, or intimidate a person, often a child. These behaviors also interfere with the child’s emotional development as well as their cognitive and psychological development as well. These behaviors are exhibited by abusive parents, guardians, or caregivers and may include ignoring a child, verbally assaulting them, or rejection. Some abusers isolate children by preventing them from having social interactions with not only their peers but also with family or anyone else. Other abusers corrupt or exploit children by forcing them to behave in ways that are illegal. Behaving in a manner that creates fear in the child is called terrorizing. Parents who terrorize their child may behave in a frightening or threatening way or intentionally place the child in dangerous situations.
Effects On the Body and Mind
People who have suffered from emotional abuse are susceptible to moodiness and depression. With long-term abuse or childhood emotional abuse, there can be long-lasting effects on the mind. Research has shown that emotional abuse affects the region of the brain that involves self-awareness. Studies have also shown that the areas of the brain responsible for emotional regulation were also affected. Babies who are victims of emotional abuse may fail to thrive or can become insecure or anxious as children, and in severe cases of deprivation, they may even die without emotional comfort. Emotional abuse affects the body far less than it does the mind, although it can cause the body stress, which can cause a variety of health problems.
Who Is At Risk?
Anyone can be at risk of falling victim to emotional abuse. Age, gender, and race do not affect this, as men are frequently victims as well as women. Children are also frequent subjects of emotional abuse, even as early as infancy. Seniors are another group that commonly falls victim to emotional abuse from family or caregivers. Additionally, people of all economic statuses may be at risk of becoming victims of this type of abuse as well.
How to Get Help
To get help and put a stop to the abuse, there are several things that a person can do. One of the first things is to tell someone about the abuse. Seek outside help through health professionals such as one’s personal physician. Shelters are available for people who are victims of abuse, and social services agencies are also available.
It’s important to keep an eye out for the signs of emotional abuse. You can avoid severe complications down the road if you address the abuse early enough. In the event that complications like substance abuse arise, Morningside Recovery is available to help. Our dual diagnosis treatment program will teach you healthy coping mechanisms. Give us a call at 855-631-2135 to learn more.
By Michelle Conway