This is a topic near and dear to my heart, and today I was struggling for a quick and easy blog topic, and Psych Central had an article about emotional abuse that was perfect. Yay!
Did you know emotional abuse is much more elusive than physical abuse and sexual abuse? That the people suffering from it may not even know that’s what it is, and more surprisingly, the abusers may not even realize what they’re doing is considered abuse! Although some people may not realize this, (I happen to know first hand), emotional abuse can be more detrimental to a person than even physical abuse because it alters how we feel about ourselves. It truly cripples us because we allow something untrue to define who we are and thus act according to that false assumption.
How can you tell if you are a victim or perpetrator of emotional abuse? Here are several good questions you can ask yourself to see where you fall.
In the area of humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing do you:
Do you get put down in front of others or made fun of?
Is sarcasm a way to put you down or degrade you?
When you try to stand up for yourself, do they say ‘Oh I was just joking around.’ or that ‘you’re just too sensitive’?
Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?”
Are you regularly made to feel devalued by people ridiculing you, disregarding your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, or even your feelings?
Or how about in the area of domination, control, and shame, do you find that:
- Do you feel treated like a child?
- Are you constantly corrected or chastised because your behavior is “inappropriate?”
- Must you “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions?
- Who controls your spending; you or them?
- Are you treated as though you are inferior to them?
- Do they make you feel as though you’re never right?
- Are you constantly reminded your shortcomings?
- What about minimizing your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are?
- Do you receive disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior from them?
What about accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings, are you the subject of any of these, or guilty of any?
- Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true?
- Are they unable to laugh at themselves?
- Are they extremely sensitive when it comes to others making fun of them or making any kind of comment that seems to show a lack of respect?
- Do they have trouble apologizing?
- Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes?
- Do they call you names or label you?
- Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?
- Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests?
Or how about emotional distancing and the “silent treatment,” isolation, emotional abandonment or neglect?
- Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?
- Do they not want to meet the basic needs or use neglect or abandonment as punishment?
- Do they play the victim to deflect blame onto you instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes?
- Do they not notice or care how you feel?
- Do they not show empathy or ask questions to gather information?
And finally, what about codependence and enmeshment?
- Does anyone treat you not as a separate person but instead as an extension of themselves?
- Do they not protect your personal boundaries and share information that you have not approved?
- Do they disrespect your requests and do what they think is best for you?
- Do they require continual contact and haven’t developed a healthy support network among their own peers?
If you read this and answered yes to more than a few questions, you may have some very toxic people in your life. These people won’t help elevate you to where you deserve to be in life, and you need to start taking steps to remove them from your life. If you asked these questions to yourself and found that you felt you were treating someone else this way, it’s time to stop. Apologize to them ASAP, and start making the necessary changes to become a better person who people would want to have as a friend.
This struck a chord with me because I answered yes to more than a few of these questions when I thought about certain people in my life. I’m now at a cross point in my life where I have to decide whether I want to approach this subject with those people in my life, or just start letting them phase out of my life. I’m proud of myself for being able to take an honest look at my life and see where the toxicity is coming from, but seeing it is one thing, actually doing something is totally different. Let’s see how well my venture into improving this aspect of my life goes.
How about you? What happened when you read over these questions? Was there anyone in your life that you specifically thought of as you read through these? Did you feel that maybe you were guilty of some of these traits? As always, let me know in the comments below!