If you’re feeling small today I dare you to sit up straighter, look someone who scares you directly in the eye, take up room at the dinner table, make yourself bigger, when ‘sorry’ laps at the back of your tongue, tries to pick up after you, remind yourself that your existence doesn’t demand an apology, that you are allowed to make mess and take up space. Do not be afraid to expand. Every single goddamn minute. Expand, expand, expand.
An amazing thing happens when you get honest with yourself and start doing what you love, what makes you happy. Your life literally slows down. You stop wishing for the weekend. You stop merely looking forward to special events. You begin to live in each moment and you start feeling like a human being. You just ride the wave that is life, with this feeling of contentment and joy. You move fluidly, steadily, calm and grateful. A veil is lifted, and a whole new perspective is born.
Some people leave, yeah, and it sucks. But some people don’t leave, and they never will. And sometimes people are there, but you just can’t see them. But they’re still there.
We did a Topic of Interest segment on emotional abuse back in February, and during that, we identified the following signs of emotional abuse. This part of the topic was written by our lovely admin Tess!
Verbal abuse is the use of language to hurt someone, whether it is with conscious or unconscious intent. Verbal abuse is a dysfunctional use of feedback; i.e., it’s “messed up” feedback. Verbal abuse is a form of Emotional Abuse. Emotional abuse uses words to hurt, but sometimes requires meaning derived from the context in which the words were used or pairing with a behavior. Neither the words, nor the context or the behavior alone may be abusive, but the words together with the context or behavior are abusive.
Abusive Expectations: placing unreasonable demands on another person or never being satisfied with the other person or how much the other person has done, regardless of the amount of care and effort put into a task. Instead the abuser complains that something more could be done, offers criticism about how it could have done better, or even berates the other person for not satisfying his or her needs. Constant criticism is the pattern in this type of emotional abuse.
Accusing: to charge with an offense, wrongdoing, error, fault, or mistake. Originally it was only used as a legal term, but being in a verbally abusive relationship can feel a lot like being on trial.
Bigoted remark: a remark that is strongly partial to one’s own group, religion, race, or politics and/or is intolerant of those who are different
Blaming: fault finding; holding responsible. Accusing and Blaming are verbally abusive when without basis or when excessive. This include blame shifting: making the abused person believe that the abuse is their fault.
Blocking: an attempt to derail or end a valid conversation prematurely or to avoid a relevant issue. Often blocking is done by unfairly insinuating that the person that s/he is trying to block is being unreasonable or is nagging. An example would be saying, “Get off my back,” in response to a reasonable discussion. A common form of blocking is to go on the offense and become accusatory of the other person.
Bullying: to be habitually cruel or physically aggressive to another person, especially to someone who is physically weaker, younger, shorter, or someone who has less social status; to intimidate. Character assassination is a deliberate attempt or strategy employed to damage or discredit the reputation, status, or achievements of another person; to defame.
Con: win someone’s confidence or trust in order to deceive or cheat them
Condescension: to deal with people in a patronizingly superior manner “talk down to.” The inference is as one would speak to a child, or to a person of less rank or understanding.
Countering: to routinely oppose with words or disagree without fully listening; automatically disagreeing
Criticizing: disparaging remarks, sharp disapproval, “dissing,” words that attack the person rather than address problematic behaviour. To criticize in this sense of the word is not giving feedback as there is no real attempt to provide an accurate assessment or information.
Discounting: invalidation of another person’s thoughts, feelings, opinions, or perceptions. Discounting is often an automatic response without listening first rather than reasoned response after careful listening.
Domination: a pattern of behavior used to control another person. Methods of control include ordering, threats, negative consequences, monitoring, isolating, monopolizing and restricting. Persistently making it unpleasant for the victim to be assertive is a way of using negative consequences to dominate. For example, an abuser may agree to go to a restaurant only to incessantly complain. The abuser wears down the resistance of the victim over time. Abusive men also make use of male privilege and the myth of male superiority to impose their will over women who have been enculturated in the myth. Domination can take many forms. Phone calls, spending, and chores are examples of activities that might be monitored and restricted. An abuser may attempt to isolate the victim by undermining relationships with friends through subtle criticism of the victim, or disagreeableness around friends and family, or character assassination of the victim behind her back, or character assassination of friends and family of the victim to the victim. The abuser may monopolize conversations, decision making, or economic resources. The abuser may criticize every penny the victim spends while lavishly spending on himself. The abuser may guilt trip by employing moral arguments or lofty principles to get his way.
Double Binds: A simple double bind is when the respondent is offered the illusion of a choice of two possibilities, when fulfilling one request/option would make fulfilling the other impossible. An example is when your boss requests that you complete two projects in the time it takes to do one of them. However double binds are usually more complex. They often involve an injunction with a threat (you will pay/suffer if you do or don’t do what I say). Often the threat is implied rather than stated.
Emotional Blackmail: a complex and sometimes highly subtle form of emotional abuse in which the abuser uses F.O.G. – Fear, Obligation, and Guilt tripping – consciously or unconsciously to coerce you to do what s/he wants. Your innermost fears and an unreasonable sense of obligation are manipulated to coerce your compliance. Threats, punishment, withholding, self-harm, self-pitying, hysterics, passive aggressiveness, or the holding out of an eternal carrot stick that never arrives are different forms that emotional blackmail may take. If you are conscientious and somehow you are always labeled the bad guy, you are probably in a relationship with an Emotional Blackmailer. You may be “pathologized” as sick, crazy, or some other label. An Emotional Blackmailer may triangulate others against you and enlist their support or use negative comparisons with other to guilt trip.
Ethnic Slurs: a disrespectful, insulting, belittling, or slighting remark or innuendo directed at another person’s ethnic or national identity
Fake Forgetting: 1. When someone claims s/he forgot when the agreed behavior was not done because it was inconvenient, unpleasant, etc. (a pattern has to be established before you will know someone is faking). 2. When the other person breaks an important promise or forgets an important date and claims that s/he has forgotten even though there was significant discussion. You will probably not get a sincere apology. Fake Forgetting is purposeful.
Gaslighting: a form of emotional abuse that employs a wide variety of verbal abuse types: forgetting, denial, lying, criticism, blocking and diverting. The abuser may make a hurtful remark and then accuse the victim of being too sensitive, unable to take a joke, misperceiving the meaning of the remark, or flat out deny the comment was ever made. Another tactic is to hyper focus or exaggerate or invent shortcomings of the victim, while denying their own shortcomings. The abuser may rage at the victim for not believing the lies and shame the victim for being mistrustful. In short, Gaslighting involves denying the reality of the victim to serve a hidden agenda of the abuser.
Guilt tripping: an attempt to make someone feel guilty for the purpose of getting one’s way; restricting another person’s behavior for selfish reasons; or for instilling doubt and confusion in another person to keep him/her submissive. Healing involves recognizing that it has nothing to do with the principle of the issue and everything to do with the security, pleasure, prestige or power the abuser feels in dominating the victim or getting his way. The moral arguments or lofty principles employed in guilt tripping can sound very convincing and valid. You will need to notice whether the rationale is used to get his/her way; are impractical or inconvenient for you; or whether the abuser is ever satisfied. A big clue is when you go along with his desire and he still criticizes you or you do it right a dozen times, but are criticized, often harshly, for the one time you don’t (even when the real life consequences for not doing the task are minor). Abusers are masters at manipulating a tender conscience. However, the conscientious person will have great difficulty getting an abuser to admit to any wrong doing.
Innuendoes and Insinuations: An innuendo is an indirect or subtle comment, usually having derogatory implication. Innuendoes and insinuations are synonyms. Sometimes insinuations are meant to confuse in order to disguise true intent (often harmful or manipulative), and as such are a wily form of diverting. Ambivalent compliments are a type of this kind of insinuation.
Judging: condemning, denouncing, or appraising a person’s character in a rejecting manner. Judging in this sense is to be unfair.
Lying: effectively blocks the goals of assertive communication: informing, cooperating, equitable problem solving, understanding and intimacy. It also creates an uneven playing field if the other person believes the lies and remains open, and thus vulnerable to exploitation. White lies are not included, unless the lies become hurtful.
Name calling or Labelling: Name calling is what most people think of as verbal abuse and includes swearing at someone. It is using a word in a way that is derogatory. Labeling is the use of psychological jargon to negatively describe the other person rather than identifying the problematic behavior.
Ordering: telling another person what to do as opposed to asking them politely. Expecting another person to always do what you want them to do when you want them to do it is also ordering.
Sexism: discrimination based on the sex of a person; the belief that one sex is superior to another sex; attitudes, conditions, and behavior that reinforce stereotypes of male and female talents, characteristics, and roles; abusive behavior based on gender. Sexism is a set of attitudes and beliefs that result in a pattern of abuses, including emotional abuse aimed at gender.
Tone of Voice: loud, sarcastic, condescending, hissing, phony inflection, yelling, screaming, and the disappointed sigh
Trivializing: referring another person’s accomplishment, opinion, experience, or feeling in a way that diminishes its significance.
Undermining: a comment aimed at weakening, discouraging, or halting another person’s interest, enthusiasm or good spirits.
Unpredictable Responses: In this abusive pattern, there are severe mood swings, inconsistent responses to the same situation, sudden emotional outbursts that have no reasonable explanation, stark inconsistency in preferences, saying one thing one day and reversing themselves the next. This pattern of behavior is common in people with bipolar disorder, addicts (including alcoholics), and BPD. It is highly stressful to live with or work for with someone with these issues and is described as feeling like Walking on Eggshells.
Withholding: the refusal to share of oneself in an intimate relationship in an appropriate way. Withholding includes the silent treatment, failure to disclose intimations that might deepen the relationship, withholding relevant information, and refusing or withholding normal affections as a way to punish, demean or otherwise hurt the other person. This is different from refraining from sex until one has resolved one’s anger, having the right to private thoughts and feelings, and having the right to say no to sex and other forms of affection. There is a pattern of withholding used as a way to hurt the other person.
The above signs do not all have to be present in an emotionally abusive situation. This is just an extensive list of possible behaviours that may be seen if your friend/partner/family member is emotionally abusive.
More information on emotional abuse can be found here. This page also has signs of an emotionally abusive relationship, suggestions on what to do if you’re in an abusive situation, and some resources with with you can find out more about emotional abuse.
I hope this helped! And big thanks to Tess for the detailed list!
So basically my roommates have emotionally abused me.
I’m sorry, if you were right, I’d agree with you.
little things that help ease symptoms of depression:
- turn the lights on and open a window
- eat something healthy and drink ice cold water
- find a comforting album to listen to whenever things get bad
- take a long, relaxing bath
- do yourself up in full make up and hair
- be around people, even if you don’t think it will help
- watch something funny on netflix
- wear your favorite/most comfortable outfit
- immerse yourself in a hobby like drawing
- lose yourself in a really good book or movie