Emotional abuse: recognizing the signs
When we hear the word abuse, many of us picture in our minds a battered woman with dark bruises or a physically hurt child. However, what many of us do not realize is that abuse happens in many forms, and one of these forms can go unnoticed even by the person being abused. It might go unnoticed, but the mental effects can last a lifetime. Emotional abuse or the more fancy word, psychological abuse, is more than a theory; it is a reality in the lives of many families. The problem is that parents, children, and spouses might be emotionally abusing their loved ones and not even think about it as something harmful because they did not learn what this kind of abuse is and what it can cause.
We decided to share with you, dear reader, this information with the goal of helping you and your family. Do you want to be happy? Do you want to see your loved ones happy? The change that you wish to see in your family begins inside of you; you must make efforts to change the attitudes that hurt you and your family. We are here to offer guidance. The doors of The Universal Church are open 7 days a week; our pastors are available for counseling, and we have various groups designed for women, children, men, teenagers and the elderly, offering the emotional support and encouragement you need. Feel free to contact us for more information. We have a meeting designed for the love life and family on Thursdays at 7pm, and a special prayer for the family on Sundays at 10am. A family that prays together stays together.
First, we need to understand what is emotional abuse. It is any pattern of behaviors from one person directed to another that causes emotional traumas, fear, low self-esteem, shame, guilt, and insecurities. These behaviors affect the mental stability and the sense of self-worth of the abused person in the short and long run.
These behavior patterns include but are not limited to: cursing, name calling, constant mocking, destructive criticism, lying and misleading with the intent of manipulating; publicly and privately humiliating the other, spreading lies and private information about the other, making all decisions, isolating, intimidating, threatening, ignoring, controlling, accusing, and exposing the other.
Emotional abuse has an alarming effect on children. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, the effects on the mental health of children who suffer emotional abuse are NOT different and sometimes can even be WORSE than the problems experienced by children who suffered physical or sexual abuse (Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy®). One here understands that words and gestures can hurt just as much as if someone physically hurts you.
The next step is to identify and recognize if emotional abuse takes place in your family, and where do you stand in this. Are you the abuser? Are you receiving the emotional abuse or are your children? Please refer to the list of signs provided in these pages and come to a conclusion if any of these (even if it is only one) has been affecting your family. For the sake of your family, humble yourself to recognize if there is a problem.
Limits need to be established. What are the lines that have been crossed? Decide on what is and what is NOT tolerated. If you are the one behaving in this way, then sincerely decide to make efforts to change. Have a sincere conversation
with your partner and with your family to speak about what has been happening. If you are in the wrong, ask them for forgiveness with sincerity and be willing to do whatever it takes to see a change in you. As long as there is a true willingness, there will be a way.
Do not hesitate to seek for the right kind of help. Avoid advice that will only make matters worse such as “pay them back” or “make sure they feel the pain you are feeling.” Paying back and returning the same behavior will make the entire situation far worse. Consider seeking help at your children’s school, with professionals or at resources in the community. At The Universal Church, we offer free family counseling, free events and group activities to help your family stay united and strong. The Rahab Project, sponsored by Godllywood, helps women who have experienced any kind of abuse; it has monthly meetings, an inner-healing course, and it provides one-on-one counseling from women to women.
Take important steps to change; persist and don’t give up. Monitor your progress and watch out for backsliding. If it happens, do not lose hope, and start again, reminding yourself of why you are making these efforts – for your happiness and the happiness of your family. If your partner has emotional abusive behaviors and is not willing to seek help, if he/she insists in the old attitudes, then consider letting go of the relationship to focus on your inner healing and the well-being of your children. Prioritize your safety and health. Do not insist in an unhealthy relationship.
Remember just because things have always been a certain way does not mean they have to stay the same. If throughout your life you have wrongfully learned that the behaviors mentioned in this post are OK, you have now the opportunity to learn something new that can benefit you and your family for many years to come. However, letting this opportunity pass by might cause an emotional toll in your loved ones that can last for an entire lifetime.