Emotional Abuse is so subtle and so blatant at the same time that it is confusing and baffling to those who are its targets. What is the seduction of emotional abuse? How can anyone be treated so badly and still stay in a relationship that is replete with this type of treatment?
A few thoughts come to mind:
There is a pattern that we accept as normal when we have grown up with sarcasm and repeated “put downs”. We just think that this is the way it is supposed” to be.
Many children have seen their parent used as a whipping “boy”….”girl”….”post” and have taken this behavior to be the way of romance and intimacy.
An additional twist on the “romance” side of abuse is that the abusing parent only speaks or deals with the one he/she abuses the most. The silence of the abusing parent and the seeming attachment to the victim sets up another ambivalent atmosphere in the family about the significance of the verbal mistreatment of the abuser.
The victim is often deeply afraid of the abuser. She/he is so intimidated that she/he will do anything to avoid confrontation in both private and public settings.
The victim will do anything to keep the veiled threats of escalation from becoming real. Abandonment, physical violence, public humiliation, and divorce seem to be avoidable if the abused person doesn’t aggravate the person who is abusing them.
To the observer, it seems hard to believe that the one being abused can’t just walk away. The problem is that the abused is often “trauma bound” to the abuser. Somehow the pattern is either acceptable or something the abused just got used to as the relationship continued.
An additional nuance that the abused will articulate is that the abuser isn’t always “that” way. The victim often becomes the protector of the abuser when someone points out the unacceptable behavior to the abused.
There are many questions to consider in breaking the hold of someone who is an Emotional Abuser:
- Who will support the person who decides to confront the abuser?
- How will the abuser react?
- Is it possible for the abuser to learn another way of acting?
- Is the abuser willing to seriously address his/her behavior and put in the time it takes to learn to act differently?
The family may need to come in for sessions that help look at the damage being done by the abuser and whatever the family system is doing to enable the abuser to continue acting the way he/she does.
The fact is that no one can act completely alone in a cycle of abuse. The Karpman Triagle shows us that if we are in a “conditional OKness” then we are either being a Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer.
There is no need for the perpetuation of the cycle of abuse
Are you in a family or relationship that is typified by the elements of Emotional Abuse?
There is help for you and or your family. Call for an appointment so that the abuse can be brought to an end.