Mental or emotional abuse, also known as verbal or psychological abuse, is a type of psychological harm that happens when one individual puts another to degrading, demeaning, offensive, and harmful actions or words. Years of being mentally abused could lead to emotional trauma and mental health disorders like depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders.
Emotional assault generally happens in adult and teenage relationships, such as in romantic relationships, dealings with strangers, friendships, parent-child relationships, and co-worker relationships. When an individual is assaulted or harassed by co-workers or friends, it causes him to go through heightened levels of depression or anxiety. Additionally, it causes the harassed individual to feel insecure, irrelevant, hopeless, and incompetent.
It is vital to keep in mind that while an emotionally abused individual might not manifest the physical wounds of harassment – bumps, bruises, etc. – the effect is the same as, if not more, disparaging as the effects of physical harassment. In fact, present research reveals that emotional abuse is similar to the impact of physical abuse in numerous situations. More particularly, experts have reported that the outlooks of people who have been emotionally or mentally maltreated are comparable to those who have been abused physically.
Sadly, emotional assault typically is not backed by sufficient evidence, which implies that it is frequently neglected. Consequently, this assault victim usually keeps mum compared to someone abused physically and has evident wounds and marks to prove it. Furthermore, in many circumstances, the emotional offender is very “congenial” to those external to the relationship, meaning that this offender might come across as polite, funny, easygoing, and kind to others, but being cruel, vengeful, or hateful to the victim privately.
The Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health And Development Study states that males have a higher likelihood of being aggressive compared to females. But outcomes also suggest that sexuality is an undependable predictor of emotional assault in relationships. Specifically, experts found that males and females displayed emotional assault in relationships at closely the same occurrence, particularly regarding certain behaviors like mood swings, decreased self-control, jealousy, suspicion, and behaviors usually suggestive of emotional abuse.
Additionally, male participants who displayed these behaviors seemed to manifest two types of relationship emotional assault. The first type was emotional abuse targeted at strangers (interpersonal aggression), and the second was emotional abuse targeted exclusively at female partners.
That said, women typically only demonstrated aggression towards their children and/or partners. Still, both women and men who were emotionally abusive in the specific study had personality disorders (histrionic personality disorder, paranoid personality, antisocial personality disorder, and borderline personality disorder).
Emotional Abuse Therapy
Emotional assault is difficult to manage unless the abused can separate himself from his offender or abuser or if the abuser confesses that there is a problem and decides to get himself treated for his offensive behavior. But for this to occur, the offender must recognize first that his behavior has harmed someone and that what he did was not right.
Emotional Abuse Therapy
The objective of emotional abuse therapy is to find out the real cause of the assault or abuse.
- Who is the offender?
- When did it begin?
- Did you confide in someone about this?
- How long has this been happening?
- How did you feel every time it happened?
- What usually triggers the abuse to start?
- Did the emotional offender ever become violent or physical? If yes, how frequently did this occur, and what triggered it?
A therapist can start the therapy by presenting behavior modification strategies to the emotionally abused victim. The purpose of these strategies is to assist the victim in recognizing negative behaviors and mindsets. If the therapist is also working with the abuser or offender, he may help him realize how his attitudes or actions are abusive, offensive, and unhealthy, accept the need for treatment and be aware of the relevance of completely obliging to the therapy process. Either way, a therapist will designate both the victim and the offender homework and help them create realistic objectives and actionable steps to assist them in moving forward.
Therapies For Emotional Abuse
If the emotional assault happens within an intimate relationship, a mental health professional like a social worker or therapist may ask to meet both individuals in the same session. The objective of these therapy sessions is to enhance conflict-resolution and communication skills in the relationship. Another objective is to help the passive or ‘silent’ partner be more self-assured about what they would and would not accept from the abusive partner.
Other types of therapy may include group therapy, individual therapy, and support groups, like domestic violence support groups or survivor support groups. These therapies aim to educate the victim about what comprises positive and negative behaviors in a friendship or relationship and ways of identifying warning signs when they come up.
Complementary therapies that could be helpful for individuals who have been mental or emotionally assaulted include hypnosis, acupuncture, massage, and music or art therapy. In some circumstances, medication can be recommended to help abuse and assault survivors deal with the trauma that they suffered.