Beverly Engel

Strong Women never put their safety or their self-esteem aside to please someone else or to keep a man. If someone acts inappropriately or abusively in any way (including becoming emotionally abusive), Strong Women stand up for themselves and make it abundantly clear that they will not tolerate the abuse. If this doesn’t work, they walk away.

For too long we have been protecting the ones who have hurt us by minimizing our trauma and deprivation. It’s time to stop protecting them and start to protect ourselves. We have been told and feel that we are responsible for their emotional well-being. We are not. We are responsible only for ourselves.

When someone is unrelentingly critical of you, always finds fault, can never be pleased, and blames you for everything that goes wrong, it is the insidious nature and cumulative effects of the abuse that do the damage. Over time, this type of abuse eats away at your self-confidence and sense of self-worth, undermining any good feelings you have about yourself and about your accomplishments .

There are many types of emotional abuse but most is done in an attempt to control or subjugate another person. Emotional abuse is like brainwashing in that it systematically wears away at the victim’s self-confidence, sense of self, trust in her perceptions and self-concept.

Survivors have a difficult time expressing their feelings. They are more accustomed to minimizing their pain and hiding how they really feel, both from themselves and others. They often become frightened whenever they feel anything intensely, be it anger, pain, fear, or even love and joy. They fear their emotions will consume them or make them crazy.

With emotional abuse, the insults, insinuations, criticism, and accusations slowly eat away at the victim’s self-esteem until he or she is incapable of judging a situation realistically. He or she may begin to believe that there is something wrong with them or even fear they are losing their mind. They have become so beaten down emotionally that they blame themselves for the abuse.

Critical words to a child are as painful and damaging as being physically hit. They are verbal slaps in the face. Usually, critical words are accompanied by threats, name-calling, and yelling. This verbal abuse can be especially damaging. Insulting names echo in a child’s mind over and over again until he comes to believe he is indeed stupid, selfish, lazy, or ugly and that in fact, that is all he is.