Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Killer

The name of this article might sound a bit extreme and over the top, however I thought it was important to create awareness around this often overlooked area.

This is a general description of Emotional Abuse, which is based on my current awareness and observations.

Physical Abuse

Very often the most recognized form of abuse is the physical side; the type of abuse that is visible to the eye and can be easily observed. When the body is hurt it is clear to see, unlike when we are emotionally hurt.

Emotional Abuse

The emotional side is usually hard to recognise; it usually goes under the radar and is often overlooked. This could be the result of the general ignorance around emotions and not realising the effect emotions have not only on our life, but also on our bodies. It is also very easy to put on a happy face to the people close to us and the world, when deep down we can feel the complete opposite.

Suffering In Silence

After looking at the physical and emotions sides; it is clear to see that there is a big difference between the two.

Someone could be suffering in silence for many years without anyone knowing this to be the case. And yet when someone displays a physical symptom or problem, attention soon arrives. We all know to go to the doctors when we have a physical problem, but who do we go to when we have emotional problems?

So does this mean that there is a possibility that physical illnesses can be the result of emotional abuse or emotional suffering? And that the time delay of their physical manifestations is what makes it hard to see?

Could physical symptoms be our body’s way of crying out for attention? A way for our own suffering to be heard? Our body’s way of express what we fear to express vocally?

An Example

When we were children we might have felt ignored or abandoned or perhaps we didn’t want to go to school. So what did we do? We might have created a situation that would give us attention; we become ill for a short time to receive what we were not currently receiving from the people around us.

This of course is a very basic example, however what it does gives us is an idea about how our body can react to how we feel and that if it can react in such a way after only a short while; how might it react after months and even years of pain?

The Old Saying

We are all familiar with the saying ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. This has got to be one of the most dangerous saying ever told. This can lead one to deny their own feelings and to ignore their own emotional feedback.

Positive And Negative Growth

And like anything in life that grows and develops, the consequences are one of two things, depending on it being a positive or a negative outcome. The positive side is that the longer it goes on for the more evolved and developed it can become and the negative side is that through time entropy and regression usually occur.

The First Stage

In the beginning it could start of as light criticism, judgment or even sarcasm. This at first can be unpleasant, but at first site it can seem to be one of or an isolated occurrence, which makes it tolerable.

So with this being the case it is normal to carry on as if nothing has happened. After a short while our lives and emotional state will usually return back to normal.

The fact this has happened could spring doubt and confusion in our mind, as to why this has happened. The following questions might arise: Am I over reacting? Have they had a bad day? Have I done something wrong?

Old childhood pain and trauma could be triggered at this point. With Our personal history returning, so that it can be processed.

This criticism can come from: family members, friends, spouses, and colleagues amongst other relationships.

The Second Stage

This might not be a one off and what continues is more criticism and more put downs. It might now take the form of passive aggressive behaviour or more overt abuse.

At first there was the opportunity to readjust ones emotional state and come back into equilibrium. However as the abuse becomes more consistent; one then starts to question themselves. Their own wellbeing and tolerance starts to diminish rapidly.

What could be handled and dealt with at first now becomes too much, too overwhelming for one to deal with.

Abusive Behaviour

This behaviour could be displayed out in the open; however it can be carried out when only certain people are around and behind the scenes.

Such people often have a well developed ability to come across as the antithesis of such behaviour, with them appearing to be warm and maybe even affectionate in public or at certain moments.

One Response

One response the abused could have after being constantly exposed to such behaviour is that they start to believe what they are being told by the perpetrators. There is a saying ‘if we are told something enough we start to believe it’. And after weeks, months or even years of abuse one’s self worth and emotional health will be extremely eroded.

This can leave one feeling hopeless and that there is nothing they can do, but accept that this is how life is going to be for them.

Safety Instead Of Happiness

This is where the ego mind comes into the discussion. The ego’s priority is safety and what is safe is what is familiar to the ego. So if one has experienced this abuse as a child or something similar and is now experiencing it later in life for a considerable amount of time the ego starts to equate it with what is safe.

Whether it will harm or even kill one in the long run is irrelevant. All that matters is that it is familiar to the ego. This sounds completely illogical, as does staying in a situation that harms us. It might be harmful, but at least the harm is familiar to the ego mind.

Perpetrators

These people can be classed as perpetrators, who look to pray upon the vulnerable and weak. However, they are just as weak, it is just that their behaviour has taken on a different form.

My understanding is that the perpetrators were abused in their younger years.  They were made to feel powerless and shameful about who they are.

It is said that the abused become the abusers later in life. Of course some continue to be abused and become the victim. The reason the abused become the abusers is that as a way to feel empowered the abused identify with their abusers. This gives them a sense of power, power that they have never felt in a functional way or believe they can feel in a functional way.

They came to understand power as something that is achieved by controlling others and not as true power being self control and how much control we have over our own actions.

Victims

So now that we have looked at the perpetrator lets take a look at the victim.

As I have stated above about people who were abused later becoming the abusers; the other consequence is to become a victim. This can also alternate with someone taking on the role of a victim or a perpetrator.

The victim could be classed as the more passive of the two, an individual that holds their pain internally, where as the perpetrator displays there pain externally.

Final Thoughts

If you are reading his and have experienced this kind of abuse and have emerged from this silent destroyer – Well done to you, it takes great courage and strength to overcome. And if we look deep enough we will find it.

However, if you are currently in this situation, don’t suffer in silence. There is help out there. This could be through a book, a close friend or a mentor; it ultimately doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that you don’t give up. It might be hard to expose ourselves and to be vulnerable, but that will only be short term pain and will seem insignificant when compared with the freedom that will be experienced upon the closure of such abuse.

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