Marriage Counseling: Am I Suffering Emotional Abuse? How Do I Heal?

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Marriage counseling is available to those who need help within their relationships here at Take Charge Inc. Emotional abuse is one of the scariest things to deal with in a marriage. Emotional abuse involves controlling another person using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate them. Healthy relationships allow every family member to be free of physical or emotional abuse, and with the help of marriage counseling, your relationship might be able to work.

Emotional abuse is most common in dating and married relationships, but abuse can occur in any relationship—including among friends, family members, and co-workers. A relationship is generally emotionally abusive when a pattern of abusive words and bullying behavior undermines their mental health. Emotional abuse aims to control the other person by discrediting, isolating, or silencing them. It is one of the most challenging forms of abuse to recognize, as it can be subtle and insidious. Emotionally abused people are often too wounded to endure the relationship and afraid to leave. So, the cycle repeats itself until something is done.

Some signs that may indicate you are experiencing emotional abuse can include the following:

· Constant criticism
· Manipulation and control
· Isolation
· Verbal aggression
· Blaming and shifting responsibility
· Intimidation and threats
· Emotional withholding
· Emotional manipulation
· Invalidating your emotions
· Constant surveillance or invasion of privacy

If you are having trouble discerning whether your relationship is abusive, think about how your interactions make you feel. Also, don’t fall into the deception of telling yourself that “it’s not that bad,” and minimize the behavior. Everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect, including you! Realizing this can help you stop the cycle. Your relationship may appear normal and loving at the start, with these types of emotional abuse being utilized later to begin to manipulate and control you. They may begin so slowly that you may not even notice them initially.

Research shows that the consequences of emotional abuse are just as severe as physical abuse, but instead of physical marks and bruises, your wounds are invisible to others—hidden in the self-doubt, worthlessness, and self-loathing you may feel. You can lose your entire self when emotional abuse is severe and ongoing. Over time, the accusations, verbal abuse, name-calling, criticisms, and gaslighting can erode your sense of self so much that you can no longer see yourself as a person. Consequently, you may begin to agree with the abuser and become internally critical. Once this happens, you become trapped in an abusive relationship, believing that you will never be good enough for anyone else. Eventually, you may withdraw from friendships and isolate yourself, convinced that no one likes you. If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship and your partner is not interested in changing the behaviors, leaving or managing with marriage counseling is your best course of action.

Recognize that confident, secure people don’t need to push others around. Whether the abuser is loud and outward or a passive-aggressive sulker, the truth is that they are immature, frightened child-like adults. It doesn’t make their actions right, but it can put their power into context. The most significant form of healing from emotional abuse comes from self-care, time, and support. Some strategies that may help in your healing journey include:

1. Acknowledge and validate your experiences – Recognize that the abuse was not your fault and that your feelings are valid.
2. Seek support – Reach out to trusted friends, family members, or support groups who can provide empathy, understanding, and a safe space for you to share your experiences.
3. Establish boundaries – Identify and set clear boundaries to protect your emotional well-being.
4. Practice self-care – Engage in activities that promote self-care and self-compassion.
5. Develop a support network – Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you.
6. Educate yourself – Learn about emotional abuse, trauma, and their impact on your mental health.
7. Practice self-reflection and self-discovery – Engage in self-reflection to understand your needs, desires, and values.
8. Set realistic expectations – Recognize that healing takes time and patience. Be gentle with yourself and celebrate even the smallest steps forward.
9. Consider professional help – A therapist or counselor specializing in trauma and abuse can provide specialized guidance and support tailored to your needs.

Marriage counseling at Take Charge, Inc. in Overland Park, KS, will give you new tools and techniques to transform your relationship for the better. For more information on marriage counseling, contact Take Charge, Inc. at (913) 239-8255 to schedule an appointment.

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