Emotional abuse is far worse than physical abuse as the impact lasts much longer. Torturing a person this way breaks them from inside out and sometimes beyond repair. The victims might survive in a better shape if the abuse is for a shorter period. But even this has the potential to leave long-term impressions on those at the receiving end.
Short-Term Impact Of Emotional Abuse
Short-term responses to emotional abuse are often that of shock and/or surprise. The abusive behavior is quite unexpected and crushes a person’s balance in life. Everything you believe in comes crashing down with a new, harsher reality. Here’s how the victims might react and what they might experience:
1. Mingled Feelings Of Confusion And Denial
The victims of emotional abuse, be it adults or children, are usually surprised that the situation even happened. They are confused and show symptoms of denial. They end up questioning their sanity, that they might have imagined the scenario.
2. Strong Feelings Of Fear And Guilt
The victims might be constantly scared of their situation and of the abuser. They also tend to blame themselves for the situation and feel guilty for having caused it, which is almost never the case. Child victims might apologize frequently, fear to speak up, and be docile all the time.
3. Extreme Feelings Of Either Aggression Or Compliance
Some child and adult victims become completely aggressive, either toward the abuser or toward others, which is more likely. Some others become absolutely passive and bow down to everything the abuser says. They might also show frequent outbursts of crying.
4. Low Self-Esteem
Those going through such a gruesome phase are low on self-esteem and have negative thoughts and behaviors:
- Feeling manipulated and used
- Avoiding eye contact
- Feeling helpless and undesirable
Children express a lot of anxiety and are wary of everything around them. They’re not confident around anybody and remain quiet most of the time.
Long-Term Impact Of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse of a short period or an ongoing one leaves a long-term impression on the victims, especially kids. The wounds such an abuse causes will not heal for a long time or forever. While adults might sustain a short period of abuse better, nobody can handle an abusive relationship for too long. Here are the long-term issues that arise in the victims of emotional abuse:
1. Depression And Withdrawal
Victims who’ve gone through emotional abuse for a long time feel lonely, due to either a lack of help or their inability to approach someone for help. Psychologically beaten down constantly, the low self-esteem becomes a defining behavior and slowly leads to clinical depression. Without outside help or on-time treatment on time, their depression might get more serious, beyond any possible help.
Adults withdraw to themselves and learn to keep to themselves. But children who go through such abuse at a young age either lose or never learn the ability to express their feelings. They grow up to be a closed-up person incapable of happy feelings or relationships; they can never open up to anyone in their life.
Victims of emotional abuse, even if physically capable of taking action, are helpless when it comes to their abuser. Their assumed emotional connection with the abuser stops them from reacting violently. This aggression is usually expressed toward others.
Adults might be overly aggressive with their kids, house help, friends, or colleagues. Children, however, tend to become bullies in school, picking on other kids, and thus become incapable of having meaningful relationships. They instill the fear they feel on the inside in others.
3. Sleep Disorders And Nightmares
Each day experiencing the abuse is traumatizing with not one good to look forward to. In such an atmosphere, sleep also gives no relief from the harsh life with constant nightmares. Both adult and child victims of emotional abuse tend to suffer from insomnia, excessive sleep, and/or intense nightmares.
4. Clinging To The Abuser
In some cases, although the abuser gives no good reason to do so, the victims empathizes with him/her. They manage to rationalize their abuser’s behavior and take their side. Such behavior can make it hard for a third person to help the victims get out of the situation.
Children tend to cling to their abuser. They constantly seek their attention hoping for some positive reaction, even if it just results in further abuse.
5. Suicidal Tendency And Self-Harm
Those going through emotional abuse for a long time will think of harming themselves and ending it all once and for all. Adults might start trying small ways to hurt themselves or act on suicidal tendencies. Children show extremely aggressive, careless behavior, a fearlessness that has the potential to kill or hurt them severely.
6. Substance Abuse
When personal relationships don’t work, the victims of emotional abuse turn to other ways to feel happy in life. They end up becoming addicted to alcohol, drugs, and other such harmful habits. Child victims tend to start smoking at an early age and it’s all downhill from there.
7. Trust Issues
Being abused by a person who was supposed to care for you can break a person completely. This naturally results in a general feeling of mistrust toward everything and everyone. Adults might shy away and deny any offer of help as they might imagine that you’re out to harm them in some way. This applies to children as well, who refuse to believe in anyone and might thus never have a steady relationship in their life.
8. Non-Performer At School/Work
Suffering through emotional abuse, adults tend to be disinterested at work, not being able to concentrate on anything. Children do not socialize in school, do not respond to teachers, might be incapable of learning anything, and are distracted. Although they might have the potential to do things better, their psychological state will be such that they cannot do so.
9. Eating disorders
The general disinterest that is common in victims of emotional abuse also applies to eating habits. Be it an adult or a kid, the victims might not be interested in keeping themselves well-fed, and some are denied that privilege. This gradually leads to some form of eating disorder.
Abuse, of any kind, is an inhuman act that needs to stop soon. If you see somebody who might be going through this, do not hesitate to offer help, even though they might deny it. If you’re going through this kind of abuse, going through all of these stages, don’t even doubt the fact that you need to get out of the situation and away from the abuser. If the person loved you, he/she would not harm you in any way. Always ask for help; you will find in the most unexpected places.