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What is the definition of verbal or emotional abuse, and am I in the middle of it?

Physical abuse is easy to identify usually. Typically there will be scratches, bruises, sometimes broken bones, etc., but at the very least, there is physical contact. When you are a victim of physical abuse, you usually know it.

But, when you are a victim of verbal or emotional abuse, it usually takes much, much longer to identify. The problem is that, the woman who allows herself to be a victim of emotional abuse is a women who is already emotionally beaten down, and already sees herself as less-than and of no value. The hurtful words of her abuser only serve to confirm what she already believes about herself. Everybody knows that physical abuse is wrong, but to the victim of verbal and emotional abuse, it's simply truth.

If you're here, chances are you are either a therapist working with victims of emotional abuse, or more likely, you are a victim or know one.

The first thing you need to know to protect yourself from emotional abuse is that you are a precious creation from God bought with a price. As such, nobody - and I mean nobody - has a right to mistreat you.

The second thing is that abusers are using their words to control you, and they do that because they're insecure, and their insecurity is coming out as anger and abuse. They're frightened bullies. They need to control their environment, and that includes you. The best way to control you is to keep you feeling bad enough about yourself that you can't ever run. After all, who else would want you? And you're too stupid to take care of yourself, right? They're banking on your low sense of personal value and fearfulness to keep you hanging around, regardless of how you feel. In the end, their abuse is self-preservation at your expense. They're selfish cowards, and you're getting the brunt of it.

Check out the website at the bottom of this article. It is a website that I believe does a wonderful job of explaining, in a concise and clear way, what emotional abuse looks like. If you have even a few of these symptoms in your relationship, please, please get a therapist immediately. You don't have to have even a single example of abuse when you're in a relationship with someone who truly loves you. There's no place for it.

Remember that an abuser needs you to believe that what he/she is saying is actually truth. Little by little over time, it will sink in, and you'll really start to believe it, especially if you've been set up for it by your childhood. If you find yourself reading the list on this site and hear yourself saying, "Yeah, but a lot of it is true about me," then that's a diagnostic red flag that you're being abused. Again, please, please get help from a qualified therapist or pastor who understands emotional abuse. Everyone has problems, and everyone has baggage, including your abuser. Even if you can remember things you did that were wrong, nobody is as bad as that list makes them out to be. Your abuser is not trying to help you become a better person with their mean and hurtful words - it's simply abuse and it's meant to demean and control.

Check out this website:

Be honest with yourself. If you're being abused, please get help.

God bless,

Sue McHenry


Open Heart Christian Counseling
Sue H. McHenry, LCSW-C
Williamsburg, VA 23185
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Last updated April 15, 2020
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