Any kind of abuse is unacceptable. Recovering from any form of abuse takes time and can be immensely painful. When thinking of types of abuse the two that may instantly spring to mind are physical and sexual. It feels as though there is much research, articles, opinions and empathy for victims of these.

What about those that have suffered at the hands of emotional abuse?

From personal experience and without at all diminishing the impact of physical abuse, at times in my childhood being given a slap would have been preferable to the cruel, unkind, hard and cold wall of nothingness that faced me at the hands of one parent. The overt narcissist in full flight. A childhood without a voice or daring to have an opinion for oneself was debilitating and depressing.

If suffering at the hands of the overt narcissist wasn’t enough imagine the double whammy of the other parent as a covert narcissist – manipulation, unhealthy almost perverse type of smothering and love of the conditional variety of course.

Two very different parents, two very different types of emotional abuse but both as deadly as each other. Both as difficult to overcome through hours and hours of therapy.

As with all abuse victims, the passage of healing and recovery can take years and can be very painful and emotional. Passing through the stages of victim to survivor and eventually to thriver is not an easy journey even with the aid of a competent and confident therapist.

However the journey is worthwhile. The world needs more thrivers and certainly less victims. Whilst staying in victim mode so the cycle of abuser/victim continues.

Emotional abuse can lead to feelings of sadness, worthlessness, depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. Behaviours include people pleasing, unable to say no, rescuing and colluding with others, putting everyone else before the self, lack of empowerment and decision making, and attracting relationships and friendships with
people with abuser/abusive tendencies.

So many people are victims of emotional abuse possibly without knowing so. Emotional abuse can be subtle, masked, hidden which makes it so deadly – the silent killer. Silently diminishing the soul, character, personality of a person who could have been destined for better things.

I am seeing more and more victims of emotional abuse within the therapy room. A sign of recognition of such a thing? Whatever the reason it is rewarding work to watch someone empower themselves, unchain the abuser/abuse and make the transition from victim to survivor and eventually thriver. It’s not just the abuse that is
debilitating- the abuser may be long gone. It is the life scripts, conditions of worth, thoughts and feelings about the self that are left behind leading to never fulfilling potential.

Everyone has the right, the basic human right, to reach their full potential. No one has the right to ever hinder a person in their quest to reach their potential especially deliberately so.

Let’s all thrive and be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be!

Written by Carol Harmston-Dean
M.D JHD Counselling Services Ltd
BA QTS (Hons), Dip.couns., Snr.Accred. NCS