The current narrative of abuse is that it’s men on women and violent. The truth is that anyone can suffer abuse and it doesn’t have to be violent, there are many forms of abuse. Most abuse doesn’t leave physical scars, it leaves mental ones. Abuse can be physical, psychological, coercive or emotional. Suffering any kind of abuse over a prolonged period of time will wear down a person’s self esteem and confidence, they may develop a state of learned helplessness and believe they can’t leave the abusive situation. 

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is extremely hard to recognise, it’s usually covert and very manipulative. If you regularly feel negative emotions after interacting with someone there’s a good chance they are emotionally abusing you. An emotional abuser will use a person’s emotions to control them, they will criticize them, embarrass them, blame them, they may try to turn them against family and friends or turn family and friends against them. 

Boundary Breaking

An emotional abuser will break down your boundaries with unrealistic demands, they will expect you to put them first, they will often bring up the past and use things that they have done to justify you dropping everything for them, they will use emotional statements to try and win arguments, they will become angry if you don’t agree with their opinions or adopt different opinions to them. 

Someone who is emotionally abusive will blame you for making them abuse you, they will constantly change criteria of tasks and then criticise you for not completing the tasks to the required standard. They will use your sense of morals or compassion to make you feel guilty or shamed. An emotional abuser will probably be sarcastic. 

Someone who is emotionally abusive will probably be emotionally dysregulated and prone to mood swings, they will criticize what you wear, they will criticize what you do for a job, they will probably find silly things to argue about and start arguments for no reason, their behaviour will probably be unpredictable and you will never know when they are going to blow up in your face. 

If a parent is emotionally abusive they will probably enmesh they child, enmeshment often occurs in dysfunctional relationships where one parent is physically or emotionally absent and the opposite sex parent innapropriately bonds with the child and uses them as an emotional crutch or substitute spouse. When this kind of abuse occurs the daughter may become daddys little princess, the son mummy’s little soldier. The same sex can also transfer their sexual rage onto the child leading the daughter to grow up hating men or the son women. An emotionally abusive parent will probably try to turn the child against the other parent, for me it was my grandmother who turned me against my father. 


An emotionally abusive person  may invalidate your feelings by accusing you of being too emotional, sensitive or calling you mad. They may deny things happened and say you’re imagining stuff, an emotional abuser will probably accuse you of being selfish if you won’t do what they want. If the emotional abuser is a parent they will say things like, “I didn’t raise you to be like this”, “I never thought you’d turn out like this” or “you’re getting just like your father, mother, etc”. 

Inner Child Healing For Emotional Abuse

I, like many children, grew up around mentally, physically and emotionally abusive people. It caused me to suffer low self esteem, a fear of blushing and very bad anxiety. As mentioned in a previous post, 61% suffer some form of adverse experiences in childhood and I do believe the emotional abuse probably had the worst impact on my life. 

Emotional Abuse In Childhood Is Hard To Detect

Any kind of trauma or adverse experiences in childhood are hard to detect because as children we are looking to the people around us to understand ourselves and the world, if those people are abusive to us we internalise it and think it means there’s something wrong with us but because it is so covert and subtle emotional abuse doesn’t stand out in our memories like being hit or thrown across a room would. 

If we are constantly being emotionally abused, called names and told we are useless we will internalise that abuse and develop an inner critic. When we develop an inner critic it’s because we have internalised the abusive parents or parents and we will keep abusing ourselves the way they abused us even long after they are dead in some cases. 

As I have said in previous posts, repetition compulsion means that what we don’t heal will reenact so it’s very important to do inner child work and heal your inner child if you were emotionally abused or if you keep finding yourself in abusive situations. 

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