Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The Preacher

Carl knew it was coming. The real question was how long it would last. Depending on what kind of day his dad was having, it could be a few minutes or a half hour. If he didn’t have to bring back his progress report signed by a parent, he wouldn’t even have showed him his grades. Carl might have asked his mother to sign, but he knew her response would be, “Show your father.” Might as well get it over with. Carl shifted from foot to foot as he stood by the kitchen table watching his father read over his … Continue reading

Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The Stand-Up Comic

“Jane’s such an airhead, it’s a wonder she doesn’t float away completely!” “Did you hear what Bob over in engineering did the other day? He was so busy figuring up his gas mileage, he ran out of gas!” “Like Shirley really deserved that raise! Like she’s so hard-working! The only thing she ever worked hard for around here is making the most of her coffee breaks!” “What a moron Joe down in the garage is! The only way he’s gonna move up in the world is to climb on top of a car!” The stand-up comic is just that – … Continue reading

Portrait of an Emotional Abuser: The One Who Is Always Right

Hand in glove with the overbearing opinion is the person who is always right. Overbearing-opinion abusers have an idea or opinion about everything. People who are always right do not make the same volume of pronouncements, but when they do, they always position themselves in the right and everyone else in the wrong. They will sift through events and information for proof of their rightness, bombarding anyone who questions them with a list of reasons why they are correct in their thinking. There is no room for a second opinion. Neutral in circumstances in which they have no interest, these … Continue reading

Heart Sick: How Stress Destroys Health

Study after study shows that stress is a destroyer of health, causing disease and disability. The emotional toll of abuse is manifested in physical stress. Anger, guilt, and fear produce specific physiological reactions that wear down the body. Over time this stress produces physical symptoms that are impossible to ignore or medicate. These can include: – Digestive difficulties including ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome – Heartbeat irregularities – Chronic fatigue – Tightness of the chest – Difficulty breathing or hyperventilation – Muscle tension or shakiness – Headaches – Loss of appetite – Binge eating – Chronic illness such as colds … Continue reading

How Emotional Abuse Leads to Guilt and Shame

The reason given for emotional abuse varies: you are bad, stupid, ugly, or unwanted, or you are the wrong sex, the wrong age, or the wrong whatever. No matter what reason is provided, you are to blame for what is happening to you. You are guilty of causing the abuse. The guilt you are feeling is not true guilt. True guilt is brought on by a realistic understanding of your behavior and its consequences to yourself and others. False guilt is an oppressive burden that is not based on reality but on the warped views, ideas, and attitudes of others. … Continue reading

How Emotional Abuse Steals Your Sense of Security

At the most basic level, emotional abuse robs you of your sense of security and value. In an attempt to bring order out of chaos, even the regularity of abuse can be substituted for a sense of what is normal. One of the deepest needs of children is for consistency, including the certain knowledge that they are unconditionally accepted and valued by those who love them. Small children crave the repetitive, constant nature of certain stories in which the same words or phrases are used over and over again. Children know what to expect, anticipate with delight the coming use … Continue reading

Calling Attention to Emotional Abuse

It’s difficult to speak up for what’s right. Usually we just stay silent and hope our silence will keep us under the radar of the person who in the wrong. If we speak up, we will be noticed, and noticed people are targets. Actually, all people are targets to an emotionally abusive person. It’s a myth that you will be able to avoid abuse if you are compliant or perfect or quiet. The abuse doesn’t stop; it can intensify. That is why it is so important to take a stand against abuse wherever it is found. The commonality of emotional … Continue reading

What Does Emotional Abuse Look Like?

In some ways, emotional abuse is the most common form of abuse. It comes from the mother who yells in frustration every time her son makes a mistake, “Why can’t you be more like your sister?” Or from the father who snorts in derision as he proclaims regularly to everyone who will listen, “The girl won’t amount to nothin’!” It comes from the husband who tells his wife, “You’re too stupid to get a job!” Over and over again, that pattern is repeated until the repetition obscures the severity. The son will think to himself, Mom always says that — … Continue reading

Is Depression Numbing Your Anxiety?

Years ago depression was considered a weakness, suffered by weak people, some citing a higher rate of depression among women. This chauvinistic, repressive attitude toward depression and its sufferers has been changing, allowing the depression to come out from under the cloak of shame and seek help for their illness. Depression shows itself through a prolonged period of sadness or anxiety. I have seen firsthand the link between anxiety and depression. The possibility for the chronically anxious person to become depressed is real, and the reasons can be compelling. Earlier I likened the anxious state to being constantly on red … Continue reading

No Two Depressions are Created Equal

Most people don’t start out in life intentionally headed toward depression. Life just takes you down that detour sometimes, for a whole host of reasons. Sometimes it’s a traumatic event that shakes your world and shatters your confidence. Sometimes it’s the cumulative effect of anxiety and fear about yourself and your future. Sometimes it’s the sheer weariness of never seeming to get on the right road to happiness. Sometimes it’s the constant criticism and negativity of the people you travel with. Sometimes it’s because no matter how fast you go, you can’t seem to outrun your past. Sometimes it’s because … Continue reading