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What is Emotional Abuse?

24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline: 208.343.7025 24-hour Rape Crisis Hotline: 208.345.7273 (RAPE)

Rachel Abell- Court Advocate

At the WCA, we believe abuse is not limited to physical and sexual violence. Emotional abuse is one common form of abuse that can often be minimized in severity because it does not leave physical scars. Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior used to achieve and maintain power and control over another person typically by damaging someone’s self-esteem. It is not surprising that the effects of emotional abuse can have a harmful impact on someone’s mental health and emotional well-being, making this topic very relevant for Mental Health Awareness Month.

One of the most troubling aspects of emotional abuse is that it is not always easy to recognize, which can be very confusing for someone experiencing it. In an attempt to achieve and maintain power and control, abusers may use different tactics. Some tactics can be easily identifiable, such as name-calling or threats, however, abusers do not typically start with these types of tactics. There are a variety of other tactics used in emotionally abusive relationships that can be more difficult to detect. For instance, an abuser may claim that he is calling and checking in repeatedly, or showing up unannounced because he is just trying to be “thoughtful” or make sure his partner is safe. Unfortunately, these types of actions or behaviors can be misconstrued as romantic gestures at the beginning of a relationship. We often see that tactics such as this escalate over time to manipulate, control and isolate a person.

Everyone is entitled to a safe and healthy relationship. As we continue to work towards bringing awareness to mental health this month, it is important that we also continue to acknowledge and discuss the seriousness of emotional abuse. The effects not only have a harmful impact on someone’s mental health, but they can be long-lasting.

 

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