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Healing From Emotional Abuse: Why it’s possible and how to find help

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By: Marie Miguel

This article covers topics surrounding abuse. If you are experiencing abuse or think that you might be, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or go to their website for information and support. 

When you hear the word “abuse,” images of physical abuse or violence might be the first thing to come to mind. However, there are various forms of abuse, and one that we sometimes don’t think about as a society is emotional abuse and the impacts it can have on a person, let alone how to recover from it. So, what is emotional abuse exactly, and more importantly, can you heal from emotional abuse?

What Is Emotional Abuse?

The APA defines emotional abuse as “a pattern of behavior in which one person deliberately and repeatedly subjects another to nonphysical acts that are detrimental to behavioral and affective functioning and overall mental well-being.” It is also called psychological abuse. Examples of emotional abuse include but aren’t limited to name-calling, insults, gaslighting, verbal aggression, and threats. Emotional abuse is never the fault of the person on the receiving end. People of all ages and backgrounds can experience abuse, and while we commonly hear about abuse in the context of romantic partnerships, it is not limited to people you’re dating. Someone may also experience emotional abuse at the hand of a parent, an employer, a friend, or someone else in their life.

Impacts Of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can impact someone on the receiving end in various ways, both in the long term and the short term. Some known potential impacts of emotional abuse include but aren’t limited to:

  • Isolation from others or social withdrawal.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • An increased risk for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia.
  • Feelings of guilt and shame.
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness.

Research also shows that emotional abuse can impact a person’s physical health. Various studies indicate that abuse is correlated with symptoms such as pain, headaches, and muscle tension. The good news is that there is help for those who have experienced abuse.

Healing Is Possible

One of the best ways to start the healing process, continue the healing process, or find general support as someone who has experienced emotional abuse, is to see a mental health provider such as a therapist or counselor. Why do we know that it’s possible to heal? The answer is that various studies on therapy for multiple forms of abuse, including emotional abuse, show positive outcomes. There are many different modalities of therapy that can help you heal from the impacts of emotional abuse. In some cases, finding support groups and hearing other people’s stories may be beneficial in addition to therapy or counseling. If you’re a survivor of emotional abuse, extend compassion to yourself. Remember that you don’t deserve to have gone through what happened but that you do deserve to thrive now.

Find A Therapist

Whether you’re coping with the impacts of abuse, trouble in your family life or interpersonal relationships, grief, trouble sleeping, stress, symptoms of a mental health condition, or anything else that’s on your mind, seeing a therapist can be incredibly advantageous. There are a number of ways to find a therapist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, search the web, use an online therapist directory, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, utilize community resources, or sign up for a reputable online therapy website like BetterHelp. All of the providers on the BetterHelp platform are licensed, and an added bonus is that online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person therapy is without insurance. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support that you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get started today.

Marie Miguel Biography

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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