I.- LEARN TO THINK OF ABUSE AS CONTROL
In a basic way, we can say that emotional abuse has to do with control. Someone is emotionally abusive when they try to exert control over someone else, in a way that produces pain (physical or emotional). Of course, it is easier to see first the pain and humiliation aspects of being controlled by another as a grown up (not a child any more), but the fact is that the two aspects go together. We can see the emotional abuse causing suffering, (from the abused person’s experience) but in the end, it is one part of the couple who wants to be able to control behaviors, thoughts and emotions of the other person, in any way possible.
When dishing out emotional abuse, the abuser will take whatever they know is a weak spot for the other person, and use it against them. For example, your abuser might:
- Remember a confession from you, done in an environment of trust, and twist it
- Bring up embarrassing childhood (or current) insecurities
- Publicly humiliate you about eating habits, ways of speaking, your attire, etc
- Insult your intelligence
- Critique your sexual performance
- Guilt-trip you about your parenting skills
Insults, criticism and threats are connected with this weak spot, in this way your abuser devalues you as a person and tries to take away your self-esteem. Conveniently for the abuser, you may also be made to lose trust in others, which keeps you close at your abuser’s side and away from family or friends. So, you are disconnected from people who could reinforce your self-esteem.
In each instance, because your partner adopts a “I’m better than you, so I can critique you” attitude, it creates an environment where you are subservient to their “superiority.” Because, they say they know better or their decisions are better, or say whatever puts you in the inferior position, you have to begin training yourself on the basic idea:
They are no better because they say so, or because someone has decided they have to have control of everything in the marriage, primarily you and your own life and decisions: THEY ARE ONLY SAYING SO!
Now, repeat with me:
“HE SAYS THAT HE KNOWS BEST, AND MY JOB EACH TIME IS TO DECIDE IF I BELIEVE HIM OR NOT”
What he is doing, is framing his control as part and parcel of the marriage deal…If, in his frame, the man has always the power and authority to control the female, he is only doing what is “natural” and “normal.”
In the end, it is only his belief; there are no rules written in heaven that say that you must submit against your good sense. Our job here is to challenge this frame, first by not accepting it as a God-given reality…not all husbands control their wives, right?
Challenging his frame: What you do, is ask yourself:
- Why is it that he needs to control me by abusive means?
- If I did not provoke him, where is this behavior coming from?
- What makes him so insecure he needs to resort to abuse?
KEEP asking yourself those questions, up until you find the deep answers. It is not that abuse is not wrong; it always is…
Now, you are beginning to use your brain to understand that his “God-given right to control his wife,” could be described as several things:
I’m the only target for his anger which will not retaliate against him (because I have less strength, or more tolerance, etc)
He does it when things go bad in his office and he feels behind, underestimated or humiliated by his colleagues;
Sometimes, seeing me able to think and come up with good ideas scares him, because it makes him feel inferior…(instead of being happy for me, he is competing with me and doesn’t want to acknowledge my intelligence)
He has been treated as insignificant by his family for any reason (gender, age, some disability, etc) and wants now to be the king of this marriage by subduing me…in short, he is compensating HIS own feelings of inferiority by making me feel inferior.
He can’t compete against his male buddies, and then compensates by putting me down, as they put him down before….and so on and so forth
As you can see, as soon as you stop looking at your pain, and watch him and his motivations, you can see that controlling you is a desperate maneuver to feel powerful and in control over something…(of course, the wrong choice!)
What do you do with this knowledge?
FIRST: you stop believing that he has a God-given right to control you. And see his abuse as the most miserable behavior he can do to recover a bit of his self-respect. It never can be real love.
SECOND: the human motivations behind his control are not signals of loving care and attention to your needs, but generated by his fear and insecurity
THIRD: you have ways of managing his abuse, by just knowing that he is not powerful, but a pitiful person (or child) hiding his insecurities behind a projected powerful and menacing persona he creates only to scare you into submission.
3.- POINTS TO REMEMBER
1.- As soon as you realize his motivations, you get empowered: he is not your master, but a weak person oblivious to the fact that his insecurity is damaging both of you.
2.- Each time you see him doing something abusive, ask yourself:’
‘What is the right, supportive and caring behavior I need/want to have or receive here?”
By telling yourself, you remember what is normal, supportive and nurturing in a relationship, and give yourself permission to hope that you will find it in the near future.
If you want a reminder here, let me share with you the basics of a real, good and healthy marriage:
- He consistently values and appreciates you;
- Listens and shows interest in you and your projects;
- Is compassionate and helpful when you need him to be there for you;
- Cares about how you feel, even when you disagree with him;
- Shows affection without always expecting sex in return;
- Regulates his own baggage: (guilt, anxiety, resentment, anger, depression) without blaming them on you.
- Shares everything in the partnership: money, time, household chores, etc. without any complain, as normal.
Once you recognize abuse for what is it : a pathetic attempt to build up his own self-esteem, by controlling your own ideas and creativity, you know that it’s not “love” but insecurity.
You have the choice now to avoid taking seriously whatever negative comment he makes of you, and think: “I must been doing some good things, if he gets scared of my growth…”
You have the choice now to stop expecting appreciation from him and begin developing your own self-esteem…Protect your self and plan how to survive in this challenge and you will emerge with a stronger sense of who you are and what is your life mission!
WISHING YOU THE BEST!
This is why you need to recover your self-esteem
Abuse is a systematic attack on who you are as a person…focused on destroying your self-esteem. Even if you feel down, insignificant and not appreciated by anyone, please, see those aspects as caused by the relentless abuse…and decide that you will fight back.
Only you can do this process, and if you abandon it, the impact results in long lasting damage. We all need to appreciate ourselves, our own person with behaviors and dreams, in order to function in the world. So, decide that regardless the situation you are in, nobody will make you feel better but yourself.
Here we will offer you some ideas, you can start using any of them and then try some of the others…You will feel better about yourself and re-learn to appreciate the wonderful, creative person you deeply are!
1) These are the steps to recovering your self-esteem:
There is a fundamental step you need to fulfill NOW:
EVEN WHEN YOU ARE LIVING IN THE MIDST OF VERBAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE, do recognize that verbal, psychological and emotional abuse behaviors are not about you, you are not responsible of provoking them.
YOU HAVE DONE NOTHING TO MERIT, PROVOKE OR DESERVE HIS ABUSE.
Your partner may insult you and use cruel words towards you, but understand that this behavior is a projection of the fantasies of his sick mind, and that his remarks are in no way whatsoever a reflection of the person that you are.
The hurtful emotional manipulations that he plays on you are not truly connected in any way to your merits as a spouse or as a woman.
If anything, those behaviors should actually serve as indicators to you that he is engaged in a power struggle where he feels the need to be “in charge” and is therefore trying to control you by diminishing your value as a spouse and as a person. It is almost an upside- down compliment: the aspects he attacks the most must be your best aspects!
There may be times when he will stoop to batter you with things you have shared with him in the past – insecurities, vulnerabilities, and shortcomings. Though these intimate details may be true of you or your personality, every human being has faults, and is unfair to accuse you of them in fights.
Be mindful that in emotional abuse situations they are simply used as poisoned darts; items he throws mindlessly because they are within his reach and he knows they have the power to cause you damage.
2) Never see the assaults for anything other than what they really are: a desperate attempt to hide his own vulnerabilities by gaining power over someone else.
Battering, whether it is emotional abuse, verbal abuse or physical abuse, exists to create or maintain an unequal distribution of power in the relationship. It is, overall, a matter of control. However, this is not a new concept – surely you have already heard from friends or coaching that abuse is all about power.
The important notion to learn after gaining this realization is that when an abuser feels that he is losing his grip (if it appears to him that you are usurping or taking on some of his power), the violence will escalate. In other words, the gravity of the emotional assault is directly proportional to the attacker’s sense of vulnerability.
Thus, the act of emotional abuse is not purely about control, although that is how it seems to manifest. In reality, the need for control is a way of expressing a deep-set and debilitating sense of vulnerability. Here, you say to yourself: “What he does to me only reveal how scared and weak he is.”
3) Find the YOU within the assault.
This is what gives you the ability to not only survive emotional abuse, but to thrive in the very face of it. Finding the “you” means that wherever the assaults occur, whatever he uses against you, you refuse to be defined by the abuse. You draw on your own strength to determine your validity and self-worth. Here, you mantra should be: “I KNOW WHO I AM,”
- A) You can’t break free from an emotionally abusive relationship if you are barely remembering who you are every day.
This may sound easy, as if you just needed to give yourself a pep talk in the mirror every once in awhile. However, pep talks won’t leave a lasting impression if you are not deeply connected to yourself. Imagine that you are a tree – if your roots are not deep enough into the earth, a fierce wind will easily rip you right out.
You can develop your own pep talk. First, write down in a piece of paper your favorite and or most needed affirmations. Here are some examples for you:
- “I’m a valuable person who deserves respect.”
- “I’m worthy of love and attention.”
- “I have power over my own life”
- “I completely appreciate and I’m grateful for all my good qualities.”
Then face yourself in the mirror. Not with the purpose of making an inventory of the features you don’t like about your face, but to connect with your subconscious mind. After breathing deeply to be calm, use one of the phrases that you want to impress deeply into your mind. Repeat that sentence to yourself several times, changing your tone of voice, and observe the effect that it has on you. Once you have the tone of voice and the phrase matched to produce the most effect, do the repetition up to 10 times.
Now you know how to reinforce self-esteem… repeat every day for a week at least…and keep the list of your affirmations visible to you so you can remember them frequently. For myself and many others as well, the quest to find yourself starts with contemplative activities or relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga. Here are some pointers about these two practices.
4) Learn to use Meditation:
You can learn to cope with the stress of everyday life in your abusive home doing meditation. Meditation may be practiced for many reasons, such as to increase calmness and physical relaxation, to improve psychological balance, to cope with illness, or to enhance overall health and well-being. Today, many people use meditation outside of its traditional religious or cultural settings, only to be centered, improve health and enhance their well-being.
It will diminish the impact of stress on your body, help you center and produce feelings of self-acceptance and contentment. This feeling of contentment and well-being can help you to cope with the difficulties of daily life. Of course, it is not the only solution you can implement to improve your abusive situation, but meditating will allow you to tap your inner center and make you experience your own power. A very difficult situation will become easier to deal with, because you will feel more centered and able to use your resources better.
5) Change your social isolation step by step:
Many a times your abuser tries to socially isolate you so as to make you more dependent on him in order to serve his basic social needs and aspirations. He imposes a series of restrictions and controls to gain control over your social life. It is the abuser who often decides about the persons with whom you will interact and the friends with whom he will socialize. Any external social support system imposes a threat and a challenge to his authority over you.
Your abuser may often deliberately insult your friends and relatives so as to scare them away. He may resort to emotional blackmailing, mood swings, tantrums and denial of communication to impose his will over the victim. He may take recourse to actively spying over the victim and may openly question his loyalty towards the marriage.
This is invariably accompanied by unreasonable demands on her. The chain of events may include checking in on you, depriving you of any means of transportation or communication, inquiring about your daily routine, criticizing your friends and relatives, and so on.
If your situation seems similar to this description, you can take a variety of steps to change it. One of them, for instance, is to get out of the house and engage in an activity in which your husband is not involved. If you do not feel able to find a job, you can start by finding volunteering opportunities in your community. Your children’s school is an excellent place to start because chances are, you will be able to meet other women there. You can also find out if there are charity activities for any cause that you care about, and try to participate.
SHORT GUIDE TO ACTIVITIES YOU CAN DO NOW:
If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship and lack the financial resources for professional help (my first recommendation for assistance), there are many free resources available as well. In fact, even if you are receiving help from a professional, I recommend pursuing these other routes of help as well, especially those that promote your emotional health.
Read from the Internet and from your local library as much as you can about the dynamics of abusive relationships. Learn to identify situations where you have the lesser power, and compile the suggestions others have had for how to handle those situations.
2) Internet chat/communities
In addition to providing you with reading material, the Internet is a great place to connect with other women in your situation. What often happens is that women not only learn from each other what works and what doesn’t, but that their communal support facilitates a sense of strength and empowerment. Reaching out to others and eventually being able to provide them with advice can also help you to develop a larger sense of your own worth, thus increasing your self-esteem and confidence.
3) Reach out to women in your community
That sense of empowerment can also take root through involvement in local agencies that support battered women. Keep the information for agencies in your area handy even if you don’t feel comfortable casually meeting with them. You never know when an emergency may arise.
4) Express yourself
Emotional abuse doesn’t just take a toll on your body and mind; it can also leave you with resentment and poisonous emotions like hatred, fear, anxiety and depression. Most of the time, talking about them skims the surface but doesn’t cut it all out. There may be some things that you may have trouble coming to terms with, let alone telling someone about. If you suspect some of those emotions might be building up and weighing you down, get them out of your system! Paint them, write them, sing them; whatever your instincts lead you to do. Artistic expression can be an excellent way to voice your feelings and to gain a better perspective about yourself. You can even identify an interest or hobby that could lead to a new business!
5) Learn how to be assertive
Convey your feelings or opinions about the situation: “I don’t want to do it anymore”, or “I become frustrated because then I don’t have the energy to do other things that I want/need”.
- Assert your wishes: “I would like you to clean up after dinner”. “I want you to help me by instructing the kids to clean up the kitchen”.
- Reinforce or reward: “Thank you so much for taking this seriously” or “If I get your cooperation on this, I will have more energy (time or interest) to devote to …” or “If I can get your help with this, I will be in a much better mood in the evening.”
- Be mindful: While it can be tempting to bring up other grievances or frustrations, try to tackle them on a one-at-a-time basis.
- Be confident: Do not be afraid of stating your wants and needs. Do use phrases like “I want…” and “I would like…”
HERE YOU HAVE THE BASICS OF YOUR SELF-ESTEEM RECOVERY PLAN…HERE IS THE KINDLE BOOK: “BOOSTING YOUR SELF-ESTEEM”
ENJOY THE PATH, STEP BY STEP, AND GROW INTO THE PERSON YOU WERE MEANT TO BE!
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HOW DO YOU BECOME IMPERVIOUS TO ABUSE?
The most important thing to remember is that you have the full right to protect yourself if someone is abusing you, threatening you, or not allowing you to live the life you deserve. Here the real tragedy is that the person abusing you is the person you love. Here you have to learn to protect from the abusive behavior by separating the interaction with your husband from the relationship you have with him.
Questions like: why is he abusing me, if is he is supposed to love me? Is this the love he promised, etc, etc…are basic, and necessary…but not here in this post. Probably you have cried enough bitter tears about this painful contradiction: How is it that the person who has to love you the most, is hurting and humiliating you the most? Here I beg you to move from that agony and accept that (whatever love promises were there) you need to protect yourself. Is your basic human right to protect yourself. You are not doing anything wrong with your loved one; you are just defending yourself and that is your fundamental right.
Here are 10 Steps to Defend From Verbal Abuse:
1. While he is abusing you, your husband is measuring your reaction. Try not to show a big impact, so his attack is blunted. Calm yourself doing controlled breathing and pausing your response. Don’t cry. Don’t beg. Don’t explode. Is better not to cry, if you can control yourself.
2. Don’t give explanations or information that answers his accusations. All the abuse is imaginary, so don’t respond to any insult. Keep breathing and make an effort not to hear the venom in his words.
3. You are not obligated to listen. If you react, you will find yourself back under the abuser’s control. Detach yourself from the abuse, and repeat to yourself: “this has nothing to do with who I am.” If more hurtful words are coming your way, ignore them and walk away.
4. If you want to stay and respond: Say: “I’ve stated clearly what I will not accept. …I want you to stop doing negative comments about me in front of friends or family. When you’re ready to respect my requests, let me know. I look forward to being together at that time.”
5. Later, when the anger is gone and you feel strong enough, let him know the impact of this abuse on you. Watch carefully if he is ready to listen, or there is a possibility that he will go in another tirade against you. Use some of these phrases, avoiding accusing him:
“I feel hurt when you say negative things about me.”
“I felt your critiques of me humiliating.”
“Hearing so many negative aspects of me, makes me feel depressed.”
6. Ask for positive feedback, to see if he is capable of giving it t you: “I want to hear what do you really appreciate in me.”
7. If he offers only more sarcasm or negative words, walk away. Have a plan to do some task, visit some relatives or go to the movies, but leave the house so you can collect yourself and feel calm again.
“I want to be with you, but if you call me any kind of name again, I will leave for a time. … If you persist in making that accusation, I will end our conversation.” …
8. Clearly state what you are willing to accept and are not willing to accept from the abuser.
Communicate your position in positive terms. Keep your statement short and succinct. Don’t justify and don’t apologize. Simply state your boundaries.
“I want our relationship to continue, but I’m not willing to listen to name calling. …
“I’m not willing to hear your endless accusations.” …
“I’m not willing to endure any longer the pain of you using crude words to describe me.”
9. Have a mental plan ready, step by step, on what would you do if you decide to leave him. How safe is this plan?
10. Build support for yourself. Talk about abuse with your friends or relatives, get some free counseling from state entities, or join a chat online.
A CRUCIAL POINT TO REMEMBER:
The task of rebuilding your self-esteem after so many denigration accusations from the person you love, is still ahead of you. You will need time and effort to learn again to appreciate who you really are…and it will be the best effort of your life. Look ahead and think of the day you will live in an atmosphere of love and appreciation!Want more help to have a great self-esteem? Here is your copy of our book: “Boosting your self-esteem.”
Wishing you well,
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Is it emotional torture when your husband yells at you when mad?
In the middle of any conversation, your husband suddenly gets really upset…and in a short time, he is yelling and cursing at you. Of course, it takes you by surprise! the issue you were discussing was not life or death, and was developing in a casual way…suddenly, a button is pressed and you have a full blown anger attack in front of you.
I’m here not suggesting to discover what was the psychological issue that got involuntarily triggered…what I want to focus on is on your fright. Suddenly, from a silly domestic conversation, you are thrown in to an unexpected state of war. Surprise, shock and fear keep you paralyzed while he shouts insults at you…who is this person attacking you?
Even one episode of sudden rage attack can be very damaging to you. The receiver of such attack has no defenses, and gets inundated by fear hormones that take a very long time to dissipate…You can feel scared, fearful and numb. Even if he manages to stop, and apologize to you, the fear attack is in your system and keeps breaking havoc in your defenses.
When you can breathe again, there is a lot of work to be done to recover your emotional health. You can ask yourself some questions. Answering yes to a majority of them most likely indicates that you need a break from the toxicity of this marriage:
- Do you doubt your own memory or sense of reality after the attack? (“It wasn’t so bad”)
- Do you doubt your own judgment about what’s best for you? (“I need to be patient with him”)
- Do you often feel unsafe, as if harm could come to you at any moment? (“I’m concerned about my security”)
- Do you feel that you can’t do anything or go anywhere without their permission? (“It’s better to avoid his anger”)
- Do you feel depressed, dejected or like there is no point in being alive? (“I don’t care about anything”)
- And the most important question: Do you feel afraid of your partner?
If you answered yes to many of these, especially the last one, you probably need to leave your partner for the time being. Leaving your partner for the time you set down will give you the chance to discover how deeply you are wounded, what it will take to heal, and whether it’s even worth the emotional challenge of staying in the marriage.
Where can you go? When you take a break from your home and abuser, you can seek the shelter of friends and family (especially if you’ve been isolated from them), and they will be able to give you feedback about who you are and how loved you are, instead of abusive feedback about your “mistakes.” This would also be a good time to reconnect with what you’re capable of and what you can do with your life, today on.
Leaving sends your abuser a signal of zero-tolerance. The responsibility to change then rests on your partner – the ball is in his court. Will he change? Is being in a relationship with you more important than allowing himself to explode? If he refuses his own responsibility in your fright, it adds to the possibility of more serious damage in the future. At the least, you need him to accept that there is something wrong he needs to take care of, and seek external professional help to solve. And get some support for yourself, as to heal the hurt of watching your loved partner becoming an angry monster ready to pounce on you.
If you wish to read more, we have a recommendation for you: https://www.amazon.com/When-Love-Hurts-Repairing-Emotionally-ebook/dp/B00MFVYCJ2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
We wish you courage to face this difficult situation and find a way to recover your self-respect!
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1. “Sticks and stones won’t break my bones” – and words won’t leave any measurable physical damage, but they will cause progressive, long-term harm. Never underestimate the power of words: words are used to brainwash.
Being told you are “stupid”, “ugly”, “lazy” or “worthless” is never acceptable. The first times you hear it, it will hurt, naturally. In time you “may get used to” hearing it from a partner. That’s when you start to internalise and believe it. When that happens you are doing the other person’s work of putting you down for them. This is why your feelings of self-worth suffer increasingly over time.
The good news is that just as words have been used to bring you down, you can learn to harness the power of words to build you up and restore your confidence and belief in yourself.
2. You are always told that it’s your fault. Somehow, whatever happens, however it starts, the ultimate blame is always yours. Notice that we are talking ultimate blame here. The blaming partner will always tell you that their behavior was caused by what you said or did. In fact, their argument runs along the lines that you can’t possibly blame them for anything, because if you hadn’t said what you said, or done what you did it would never have happened.
3. You’re more inclined to believe your partner than you are to believe yourself. Have you ever reeled with a sense of hurt and injustice, or seethed with anger at the way you’ve been treated? Have you found yourself asking: “Is it reasonable to feel like this?” “Am I misinterpreting things?” “Have I got it wrong?”
If this is you, what it means is that you have become so brainwashed you’ve stopped trusting in your own judgement. Your mind keeps throwing up the observations and questions because, deep down, you know that what is happening is utterly wrong. But right now you can’t feel the strength of your own convictions.
4. You need your partner to acknowledge your feelings. Have you ever felt desperate to make your partner hear what you are saying and apologize for the hurtful things they’ve said? Have you ever felt that only they can heal the pain they’ve caused?
Does your need for them to validate your feelings keep you hooked into the relationship?
When a partner constantly denies or refuses to listen to your feelings, that is, unquestionably, mental abuse.
5. Your partner blows hot and cold. He can be very loving but is often highly critical of you. He may tell you how much he loves you, yet he is short on care or consideration towards you. In fact, some of the time, maybe even a lot of the time, he treats you as if you were someone he truly dislikes.
You do everything you can to make him happy, but it’s never good enough. You’re more like the pet dog in the relationship than you are the equal partner. Your constant efforts to get his attention and please him meet with limited success. Sometimes he’ll be charmed, often he’s dismissive.
If you find yourself puzzling about how your partner can treat you that way, it is because you are trying to live in a love-based relationship, when in reality you are living in a control-based relationship. The mental abuser struggles with his own feelings of worthlessness and uses his relationship to create a feeling of personal power, at his partner’s expense.
6. You feel as if you are constantly walking on eggshells. There is a real degree of fear in the relationship. You have come to dread his outbursts, the hurtful things that he will find to say to you. (Maybe the same anxiety and need to please spill over into your other relationships also.)
Fear is not part of a loving relationship, but it is a vital part of a mentally abusive relationship. It enables the abuser to maintain control over you.
7. You can heal. Mentally abusive relationships cause enormous emotional damage to the loving partner who tries, against all odds, to hold the relationship together and, ultimately, can’t do it, because her partner is working against her.
Whether you are currently in a mentally abusive relationship, have left one recently, or years later are still struggling with the anxieties and low self-worth and lack of confidence caused by mental abuse, it is never too late to heal.
But you do need to work with a person or a programme specifically geared to mental abuse recovery.
Women who have suffered mental abuse expect radical change of themselves, and they expect it right away. This is why they often struggle and, not uncommonly, take up with another abusive partner.
Mental abuse recovery is a gradual process. Low self-worth and limiting beliefs about what kind of future the abuse sufferer can ever hope for are the blocks that can stop women from moving on. But they are blocks that you can clear very effectively. Just as language was once used to harm you, you can now learn how language can heal you. You can overcome past mental abuse and keep yourself safe from it in the future. You can also learn to feel strong, believe in yourself and create the life and the relationships you truly want.
You can read Annie Kaszina’s entire article here.
At the Overcoming Emotional Abuse Course, we aim to help you heal from mental abuse. As Kaszina said, it can be hard to heal if it seems like your partner is fixed on preventing you from healing. That is why our course is built around support from other women. In this way, you can effectively learn about your abuse situation and avoid making a commitment to another mentally abusive partner down the road. Your story could also help other women gain courage and strength to stand up to abuse.