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Common Signs of Emotional Abuse

mom comforting her daughter about the signs of emotional abuse

When you hear the word abuse, you might think of actions that cause physical harm. These actions can cause great harm, and they deserve the public attention they get. However, another serious problem is actually much more widespread: emotional abuse. This form of abuse doesn’t involve actual violence. Nevertheless, like violence, it can leave deep psychological scars. If your teen has been subjected to emotional abuse, a trauma therapy program in Spokane can help undo the damage. Knowing what to look for will help you spot signs of this form of abuse.

Signs of Emotional Abuse: Tactics of Humiliation, Criticism, and Negation

What qualifies as emotional abuse? The term generally applies to non-physical attempts to isolate, scare and/or control someone. These attempts often take place in the context of abusive relationships. Such relationships typically involve intimate partners or family members. Your teen may also be involved in other kinds of abusive relationships.

In many cases, the goal of emotional abuse is to humiliate or criticize your child. The goal may also be to deny or negate your child’s perspective or point of view. Tactics used to achieve these unhealthy goals include:

  • Yelling and other forms of overt verbal intimidation
  • Threats of violence
  • Name-calling
  • Belittling nicknames masquerading as pet names or terms of endearment
  • Purposeful attempts at public embarrassment
  • The use of dismissive comments or body language

Humiliation, criticism, and negation may also be hidden in seemingly jokey comments.

Tactics of Isolation and Neglect

Isolation and neglect are also common forms of emotional abuse. Telltale signs of these tactics can include:

  • Preventing your teen from contacting family members
  • Stopping your child from socializing with friends or other people
  • Spreading damaging rumors about your teen
  • Withholding emotional support and/or affection
  • Refusing to talk or communicate through other means

Other tactics in this category include invalidating your teen’s feelings and purposeful acts of interruption or disruption.

Signs of Emotional Abuse: Controlling Behaviors

Emotional abuse may involve a variety of controlling behaviors. One classic example here is not letting your teen make independent decisions. An emotional abuser may also take control of your teen’s finances. Other potential behaviors include emotional blackmail, retaliatory threats, and digital spying. Gaslighting is also common. This is the term for denying that an event or situation happened or is happening. Typically, the goal is to destabilize your teen’s sense of reality and mental wellness.

Emotional Abuse and Trauma

Like physical abuse, emotional abuse can be traumatic. In other words, its effects can overwhelm your psychological coping mechanisms. Trauma may resolve on its own as time passes. However, in some cases, it may produce lingering, damaging mental health effects. That can be especially true for anyone exposed to frequent or ongoing abuse.

Unresolved trauma can have a direct negative effect. It’s also a common risk factor for certain kinds of mental illness. Examples of these illnesses include depression and substance problems. Appropriate treatment can help undo the effects of unresolved trauma. It can also support recovery from trauma-related mental health conditions.

Turn to Imagine for More Information on the Signs of Emotional Abuse

Concerned your loved one may be involved in an abusive relationship? Contact Imagine Spokane today. We understand the links between emotional abuse and trauma. We also know what it takes to recover from trauma’s lasting effects.

At Imagine, we feature trauma therapy for teenagers. This therapy not only supports recovery from emotional abuse. It also supports recovery from any kind of traumatic experience. To learn more about our program, call us today at 509.870.3810. You can also reach us through our online contact form. We’re dedicated to helping your child overcome all forms of abuse.