Tag Archives: Emotional Abusers

Childhood Trauma – Signs and Effects of Psychological Abuse

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The effects of having been psychologically/emotionally abused when we were children can be devastating, and, without therapy, can last a life-time.

Indeed, we may find, as a result of our adverse early life experiences, that we have significant difficulties managing all the important aspects of our lives, including our social life, our work/career, our intimate relationships and our relationship with our wider family (to read my article about how childhood trauma can ruin our adult relationships, click here).

Because emotional abuse has no one, clear-cut, simple definition, in this article I want to look at some examples of psychological/emotional abuse. After I have done that, I will then list some of the main effects of this kind of abuse.

EXAMPLES OF BEHAVIOURS BY PARENTS/PRIMARY CARE-GIVERS TOWARDS THE CHILD THAT CAN QUALIFY AS PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE :

– having significant feelings dismissed as of no importance

– frequently being on the receiving end of rage and intense anger

– being made to feel worthless

– being humiliated and derided

– being treated with hostility

– being threatened with physical abuse/assault

– constantly being criticized

– being ignored

– not being treated as an individual with own unique thoughts, opinions and feelings

– being treated sarcastically

– being treated with contempt

being humiliated

– being devalued and demeaned

– being treated very inconsistently

– being on the receiving end of unpredictable and wildly fluctuating changes in mood

– being on the receiving end of passive-aggressive behaviour

– being treated with indifference

– being manipulated by being made to feel guilty or ashamed

– being scapegoated for the mistakes of others (click here to read my article about BEING MADE A FAMILY SCAPEGOAT).

As I said at the beginning of this article, being treated in ways such as those outlined above can lead to the individual suffering very serious and long-lasting effects if therapeutic interventions (such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, or CBT, as it is abbreviated to) are not sought out.

Indeed, the earlier therapy is sought for an individual damaged by psychological/emotional abuse, the less serious and less long-lasting its effects are likely to be.

Tragically, some people go through their whole lives without seeking therapy or gaining insight into the cause of their psychological problems, making their lives far more painful and difficult than they needed to be.

So let’s now turn to the possible effects of having suffered psychological/emotional abuse as a child:

THE POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF HAVING SUFFERED CHILDHOOD PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE :

– diminished capacity to love (because those we loved hurt us, we view love as risky and as something that will make us vulnerable to further emotional pain)

– a pervasive sense of insecurity (as we have learned that even those with a duty to care for us can be utterly undependable)

– frequent feelings of anxiety and fear with no obvious origin

– hypersensitivity/hypervigilance (always looking out for signs that others are a threat to us or might do us harm, often to the point of seeing threat that only exists in our imaginations – this is linked to our difficulties with trusting others)

– we may start to behave in the very ways those who emotionally harmed us did eg. flying into rages, being aggressive etc.

– find forming and maintaining relationships with others highly problematic

– we may become preoccupied with the notion of obtaining ‘justice’ for the wrongs perpetrated against us

– we may develop various addictions to cope with our inner pain (this is a psychological defence mechanism known as DISSOCIATION – click here to read my article on this)

– periods of intense anger followed by periods of apathy and depression

– irrational feelings of guilt and shame (sometimes because we have been scapegoated by our family – see above)

– a view of the world as being hostile, threatening, dangerous and unpredictable

 

RESOURCES :

MP3 – ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSECLICK HERE

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

Dealing With Emotional Abuse : The Emotional Insulation Technique

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Just because we are now adults, it does not necessarily follow that we will be completely free of emotional abuse by our parent, perhaps because s/he suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissism or some other disorder of personality.

This is especially true if our relationship with our parent is still operating according to a parent-child dynamic because it has become ‘stuck’ at this stage due to its dysfunctionality.

THE EMOTIONAL INSULATION STRATEGY :

The EMOTIONAL INSULATION STRATEGY involves creating a mental ‘barrier’ to protect ourselves from the potentially devastating effects of our parent’s psychological assaults on us. By putting up this ‘barrier’, it reduces the chances that our parent will be able to manipulate us and hurt us.

Before I describe the technique, it is worth giving a word of warning : it is important to remember that we should not use the technique indiscriminately (i.e. in situations with people other than our parent who are not prone to being psychologically abusive) as this would have the undesirable effect of limiting our ability to empathize with such people.

Below I give some suggestions about how to ‘build’ an emotional ‘barrier’ and thereby achieve emotional insulation. However, the particular strategy that you personally employ should be determined by what you feel works best for you :

STEP ONE – THE USE OF VISUALIZATION :

The first step is to use VISUALIZATION to ‘construct’ a barrier that will serve to protect you from anything threatening from ‘outside’ (e.g. a parent’s verbal abuse). Types of barriers that people mentally construct often include, for example :

– a wall of mirrors which reflect back onto the abuser what is being said

– a thick, concrete wall

– bullet proof glass

– a force field

– a large, steel shield

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and you may well have other ideas which you think will work better for you

STEP TWO : PRACTICING VISUALIZING THE BARRIER :

To use this strategy effectively, it is very helpful to invest some time practicing the visualization technique you are going to use prior to when you think you will need it. This is because, simply, the more you practice it the easier and more effective the technique will be for you.

NB You are more likely to be able to use this technique effectively if you incorporate detail into the image you choose to visualize, such as its shape, colour, texture etc.

It is also very helpful to imagine the image of the barrier (and ‘put it in place’) just before the start of your interaction with the difficult parent as it is more difficult to initiate the strategy in the middle of a conversation which is becoming/has already become unpleasant.

RESOURCES :

 

ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE MP3 – CLICK HERE

UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL ABUSE  (FOCUSONTHEFAMILY.COM)

 

EBOOKS :

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Above ebooks are now available from Amazon for instant download. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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