What does emotional abuse “feel” like?
“It feels like I’ve lost myself. It’s like I’m in a deep hole.”
“I’m rising up, one arm, one leg, one moment at a time from a sticky pool.”
“I had all sorts of negative messages in my head telling me I was too slow, not pretty enough, stupid, someone no one could love and more. I could barely get through the day, make a decision and I hated to go home. No matter what anyone said about me in a positive way, it didn’t touch that deep-inside ‘never enough’ message.”
In the middle of the struggle to rediscover our own voice, the signs of emotional abuse are often missed or put aside. When another’s voice is louder than our own, we can take on that image, even though we know in our hearts that it isn’t true.
Most emotional abusers effectively bounce between attacking and retreating, keeping us off balance, undermining and demolishing self-esteem. There are no external black eyes or bruises that let us know something real has happened. The sores and scars are internal and have a long-lasting effect on our personal development and ability to find new ways of listening to ourselves.
The key is recognizing the signs……
1. They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.
2. They regularly demean or disregard your opinions, ideas, suggestions, or needs.
3. They use sarcasm or “teasing” to put you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
4. They accuse you of being “too sensitive” in order to deflect their abusive remarks.
5. They try to control you and treat you like a child.
6. They correct or chastise you for your behavior.
7. You feel like you need permission to make decisions or go out somewhere.
8. They try to control the finances and how you spend money.
9. They belittle and trivialize you, your accomplishments, or your hopes and dreams.
10. They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
11. They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
12. They regularly point out your flaws, mistakes, or shortcomings.
13. They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
14. They have an inability to laugh at themselves and can’t tolerate others laughing at them.
15. They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
16. They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
17. The repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
18. They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
19. They call you names, give you unpleasant labels, or make cutting remarks under their breath.
20. They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time
21. They resort to pouting or withdrawal to get attention or attain what they want.
22. They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
23. They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
24. They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
25. They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
26. They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
27. They withhold sex as a way to manipulate and control.
28. They share personal information about you with others.
29. They invalidate or deny their emotionally abusive behavior when confronted.
30. They make subtle threats or negative remarks with the intent to frighten or control you.
Thank you to Live Bold & Bloom for the above points.
Here are a few exercises you might try to let yourself really see what your life is like and begin the journey to rediscover your own voice and, ultimately, your happiness.
Take a slow walk and focus on how each step feels as you put your foot to the ground. Listen to the sounds around you and take them in without shifting your focus from your steps. Try this for 3-5 minutes.
Let your eyes land on one object in your house or yard. Watch it/focus on it for 1-2 minutes. It could be a flower, an insect, a dish or anything that you choose. Don’t do anything except notice the object as if you are seeing it for the first time.
Select a song or some music you’ve never listened to before. If you have earphones, put them on and shut out the outside world. Let the song, the rhythm, the words if there are words and the beat take you. Even if you wind up not liking the song, spend time with it and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up without judgment.
Choose five things and/or people in your life and take 5 minutes of deep appreciation for each one. Think about each one and what makes it/him/her special to you. How do they impact your life?
Ask yourself a few questions and answer as if you were listening to a good friend (because you are). You might jot down some notes and look at them later. These are good questions to ask yourself every few days or once a week at least.
• How am I feeling right now?
• What little things do I do that make me happy?
• If I were to describe myself to someone, what would I say?
• What would my life be like if I were on my own?
The goal is to find new ways to open up and hear your own voice, turn down the volume of those who would put you down and let yourself dance a little lighter with life.
Here are a few other resources for you to check out: