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The hidden effects of emotional abuse

The effects of Physical abuse are often very noticeable. They are marked with bruises, broken bones, cuts and in very extreme cases, death. Emotional abuse is the silent abuse because the effects cannot be seen therefore no one can gage just how severe the abuse really is.  The victims often suffer severe emotional distress   because they themselves are not aware they are being abused verbally. They will try harder to make the abuser happy not realizing this is a form of brain washing.  Over a long period of time, the abuser chips away at the victims’ self esteem thus breaking them down as a person. After hearing the phrases “you’re stupid” or “you can’t do anything right” ,  “you’re fat or ugly”,  they not only begin to believe it but they further enforce this thought by telling themselves the same ugly words,  causing them to be prisoners to their own minds.

By suffering this abuse it makes it very difficult to leave the abuser because they feel they cannot survive without the abuser or they could not make it for various other reasons. In fact, the insults keep repeating like a record. If the survivor does escape the toxic relationship, they still will keep repeating the record in their own mind never feeling like they are normal or good enough. It often takes years of counseling to retrain their thinking to be able to see themselves as the strong survivors they are. 

If you find yourself or someone you care about suffering from low self esteem from emotional abuse there are several steps you can take to regaining your positive self image. 

Start by Positive affirmations. “I like myself”, “I am a positive person and I create a positive life”, “I am a confident person” “ I feel good about myself “ “I am a wonderful person of immense value and deserve to be loved.”   Believe these thoughts - after all - who appointed the abuser to be the expert on what a smart, beautiful or a good person looks like?   J  

Make a list of your positive qualities. When this is done, go back at least 3 times a week and add to it. The more you get to know about yourself the more you will grow to LOVE yourself.   Celebrate every achievement you make even if it’s not a huge step . Eventually the little steps add up to great distances. Don’t forget to tell yourself that you have left the abuser;   you are a survivor. Be aware of your thoughts. When you start to think negative thoughts, stop yourself and replace it with a positive thought. You are a good person, you are smart and most importantly you are good enough and you deserve to be treated with respect! Do not mentally beat yourself up for a relationship gone badly. Remember that you are the strong one and you were brave enough to allow yourself to open up and trust someone.

Support groups are another wonderful resource in the community. There you will get support from people who have suffered from emotional abuse just as you have. They know what you are going through and along with your loved ones they can be your biggest supporters and fans.  Surround yourself with only positive people who you know have your best interest at heart. Change your think patterns. When you start the negative recordings, stop yourself and look at the situation in a positive mindset.  Accept compliments AND believe them. It is awkward at first but you’ll soon learn to appreciate that others see you in a positive light.

Take ownership of your life. You are responsible for your life so work hard and push forward and most importantly DO NOT compare yourself to others. Do not beat yourself up if you don’t get it right the first time. It’s all a matter of perspective.  Remember --
  Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive." As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall."
~ Confucius

Jennifer Tolladay
DeWitt County Coordinator
Domestic Violence Program


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