He doesn’t beat you. He doesn’t cheat on you but he drops sly remarks about how he hates your friends, how he hates your outfit and everything else. He even makes public jokes at your expense but you chalk it up to your partner being the usual life of the party.

When you tell him how it bothers you, he says you’re overreacting and even makes jokes about you being a drama queen. This leaves you wondering if you are indeed crazy. Like always, you overlook it and the cycle continues. Bit by bit, your self-esteem evaporates and you find yourself wondering if you could do any better [1].

Not all wounds are physical
We all know that physical trauma can be excruciating, but what makes emotional abuse worse it how difficult it may be for victims to recognize this form of violence for what it truly is.

Unlike physical violence, victims of emotional violence may find it difficult to recognize the extent of the damage being done since its effects are mainly not physical.  Among all the effects of this form of abuse, the most common is the loss of self-esteem and confidence. Emotional abuse destroys self-esteem and this poor self-esteem ensures that victims continue to stay in such toxic relationships [2].

Emotional abuse and PTSD
While the link between PTSD and physical violence is well documented, experts are beginning to see a connection between emotional trauma and PTSD. According to Dr. Joseph M. Carver, every victim of abuse experiences, some, if not all symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He says:

“These symptoms linger many years; some for a lifetime. Everyone knows this but it’s rarely bought up… During our period of abuse, the brain collects thousands of memories that contain details of our abusive experiences and the feelings (horror, terror, pain, etc.) made at that time. In what we call ‘traumatic recollection,’ any similar experience in the future will recall the emotional memory of the abuse, forcing us to relive the event in detail and feeling.”

But why don’t the abused person leave?
Often times we find it difficult to understand why victims of emotional trauma choose to remain in such relationships. You know they deserve better but the big question is ‘do they know they can have better?’

Women in emotionally abusive relationships find it difficult to leave owing to financial dependency and lack of confidence, and for those that eventually find the courage to leave, they may continue to battle the effects long after the abuser is gone from their lives [3].

References:

  1. A Diary of Toxic Love“, The Atlantic. November, 2016.
  2. You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Damaging Relationship“, Awareness Act. April, 2019.
  3. You Can Get PTSD From Staying In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship“, PTSD Journal.
  4. 11 Signs You Are Experiencing Trauma After A Toxic Relationship“, Bustle. April, 2018.
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