“You don’t deserve to be alive.”
“People just tolerate you.”
“Nobody likes having you around.”
Did these lines stir up your insides? Now imagine hearing this from your parents. The people whose purpose of creating you was to love you. Imagine hearing this not once, not twice but every single day. Imagine hearing this when you simply say a wrong answer while your mother is taking your revision. Imagine hearing this when you fall down and your father thinks you deserve it. And to top it all, imagine them laughing and enjoying when you cry at their comments. This form of abuse is far less talked about than other forms of physical abuse. This is worse and much more long-lasting than physical abuse.
68% of the adult population of the world who were victims of emotional abuse as children, meet the criteria of at least one psychological disorder. The purpose of a family should be to encourage, nurture, teach and above all, love. But this nightmare that you just imagined is a reality in many households. Many of the victims also end up committing suicide.
You are not talentless or unworthy, but emotional abuse can certainly make you feel that way. And it is not only inflicted by parents but happens in various other relationships as well.
There are a few ways through which this is inflicted:
This comes in multiple forms. There can be a threat of physical harm or even threat of abandonment. Mind games are played, manipulations are done and control is taken. They force you to stay in the relationship by convincing you that you’re nothing without them or their “love”. The threats are often empty but the fear forces compliance.
This is where the abusers make you feel like you’re crazy. They tell you things that you remember didn’t happen or you didn’t say. They say this enough times and you start mistrusting your memory. You depend on the abuser for a fact check all the time. You don’t trust yourself. The abuser can then make a god-like image of themselves in your eyes.
When your thoughts are shut down and you’re told enough times that your perspective does not matter. This can be very subtle. The abuser tells you that you are boring when you start talking about something you’re especially enthusiastic about. When such incidents occur one too many times, you believe your perspective holds no weight.
This can be the most devastating form where the victim is convinced that they are the only one responsible for their state and that they aren’t victims but abusers. The abuser blames them for sexual, physical and emotional abuse. They say it’s not their fault and they behaved the way they did because they were provoked by the victim.
There are many more ways of emotional abuse like using emotions, intimidation, using privilege, using isolation, etc.
Emotional abuse is not something which is a joke or can be taken lightly. Experiencing this trauma and having your self-esteem shot to nothingness and believing the abuser, escaping from the abuse but not being able to recover for years after that is an unspeakable tragedy.
The solution is not as simple as forgetting it, changing thoughts into something positive or tune the abusers out. The solution is to, as a society, hear people out, give them love, attention and helping them by just being there. A truth is that all of us have been abused some time or the other. Maybe at a lower intensity, but we have been.
A harsh truth
All of us have been abusers. We may have thought we didn’t cause much harm, but many abusers think just that. I have emotionally abused many people as have you.
It’s high time we become aware of our actions and try our best not to do this in the future. NOBODY is a complete angel, realize this, accept it, and start changing today.