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Emotional and Psychological Abuse

What is Emotional and/or Psychological Abuse?

Emotional/psychological domestic abuse is the infliction of psychological or emotional suffering or fear, including actions that lead to fear of violence, to isolation or deprivation, feelings of shame, loss of dignity, humiliation, intimidation or powerlessness.

Emotional/psychological domestic abuse is often done in such a way that the abuser strips his or her victim of their identity and ability to control his or her own thoughts and actions. In many cases emotional abuse is gradual. It can take years before the victim realizes that they are a victim of emotional abuse.

Why Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse in a domestic setting is perpetrated by an abuser who wants to mold or create his or her partner into who he or she thinks their partner should be. Many times the abuser strives to turn his or her victim into who they are, so their victim does not feel or perceive himself or herself as a separate human being. Yet, the abuser does not truly like himself or herself so the victims of emotional abuse usually come to represent all the abuser’s fears.

Victims of Emotional Abuse

Victims of emotional abuse will question whether they have good judgment, separate and apart from their partner. Emotionally abused victims in a domestic setting generally feel that they are wrong and that everything is their fault. Many times when the abuser has an affair, loses a job or any other issue, the abuser makes his or her partner feel as if it is their fault.

Emotionally/psychologically abused victims are also manipulated into feeling that they are not worthy of the relationship with the abuser. Victims of emotional abuse come to feel they could not function without their abuser and that they are not capable of being on their own. They may be reprimanded by their abuser for asking simple questions, or told they are ignorant or unattractive. Victims of emotional abuse are often the targets of name calling, degradation and embarrassment.

At its extreme, emotional and psychological abuse can take the form of starving and isolating the victim--with isolation being the more common occurrence in a domestic setting. Many victims of emotional and psychological abuse are not permitted to leave their homes, answer their doors or telephones, shop or even attend a child’s school function. The abuser will control where a victim goes, who he or she visits with, and who the individual is allowed to interact with within their own extended families.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, help is available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. They will direct you to places in your area where you can seek help.

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