Emotional abuse is not as easy to spot as physical abuse, but often its effects can be just as traumatic. Emotional abuse can involve many tactics, including gaslighting, shaming, and manipulation. All of these are intended to leave the victim feeling confused, powerless, and hopeless.
Typically people suffering from long-term or short-term emotional abuse, and depending on the length of time, can experience varying mental health effects.
Long-term emotional abuse happens over many years. Examples are a child growing up in a home with an alcoholic parent or a sibling with anger issues. Someone may find themselves in a marriage with a narcissistic partner.
Short-term emotional abuse can result from a nasty exchange with a stranger or micro-interactions with colleagues or neighbors.
The following are some short-term and long-term effects of emotional abuse:
- Isolation or a sense of deep loneliness
- Low self-esteem
- Anxiety connected with social interactions
- Feelings of powerlessness
- Neuroticism, or the tendency toward a depressed mood or negative emotions like anger
- Chronic stress
- Physical health issues like muscle tension and shortness of breath
- Attachment issues
- Eating disorders
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) or CPTSD (chronic post-traumatic stress disorder)
You Can Heal from Emotional Abuse
With time, patience, and plenty of self-compassion, it is very possible to heal from the trauma of emotional abuse. Working with a mental health professional who has been trained specifically to help people who have been victims of emotional abuse is a great starting point.
If you’d like to explore treatment options, please reach out to me.