Emotional abuse”, “psychological abuse”, and “mental abuse” are all terms for a situation in which one person dominates or controls another. This generally happens through a regular pattern of:

  • constant criticism or shaming – verbal abuse
  • bullying, threatening and intimidating
  • manipulation (making you feel it’s your fault)
  • disengagement (ignoring you)

It can happen in any close relationship: male to female partners, female to male partners, parents to children, etc. Psychological abuse has insidious effects — the “walking on eggshells” and the constant adaptations you make to avoid “setting off” your abuser, are the true costs to your mental health. Often, the victim does not consider the mistreatment to be “abusive”. You learn to cope through denial and minimizing your own feelings. The effects of emotional abuse can lead to lifelong psychological scars, including depression and anxiety.

Signs of Emotional Abuse or Mental Abuse

If your situation makes you wonder if you like yourself or if you feel safe and supported, you may be in an emotionally abusive relationship. Other signs of emotional abuse is if your relationship frequently makes you feel:

  • unseen, unheard, or like you don’t matter
  • unattractive or unintelligent
  • at fault for the problems in your partner’s life

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, take note of these specific behaviors common to emotional abusers:

  • making fun or you or putting you down (what they may call “teasing”) in front of other people
  • disregarding your opinion or ideas
  • accusing you of being “too sensitive”
  • requiring their permission to do something on your own or make a decision
  • controlling your finances
  • giving you contemptuous or disapproving looks or body language around other people
  • enraged by other people laughing at them or “not showing them respect”
  • repeatedly ignoring your requests or your boundaries
  • blaming you for their unhappiness, life problems, or difficulties
  • being emotionally distant most of the time
  • pouting or withdrawing to get attention or to get what they want

Mental Abuse Treatment Center

The first and most important step is to realize that the abuse is happening. A Friend’s House is a mental abuse treatment center — also offering a number of other support and counseling services — that help our residents recover from mental and emotional abuse. If you recognize yourself or your situation in any of the above specifics, A Friend’s House can help you stop the abuse and begin to heal.  Our counselors are trained to help you recover and rebuild your sense of self and regain power over your own life. Therapy, counseling, and support will help you:

  • set boundaries
  • put your own needs first
  • realize you can’t fix your abuser
  • AND realize YOU are not to blame

S is one of our many Success Stories. Already fragile from her parents’ divorce, she then had to deal with mental abuse.

 “My step-dad was controlling and abusive. He told me I would never amount to anything and after hearing that so many times, I started to believe it.”
She eventually turned to drug use and found herself in other emotionally abusive relationships. Her experience at A Friend’s House helped her find new ways to trust herself and learn to make good choices. She says,
“My overall experience at A Friend’s House has been pretty amazing…. it was by no means the easiest thing that I had to do. Being faced with and working through your problems is not easy, but it was worth it. I know if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t change a thing, I still would have come to AFH. I think AFH is amazing and anyone lucky enough to get the opportunity to come here is truly blessed.”

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