As we grow up we’re told “oh at least you have a loving family” “you have something not all families have” “they can’t be that bad” and the usual “you’re overreacting”. We’re often scared to speak up due to the consequences our words may have, but what about the lifelong consequences their words have on us?
If you’re wondering how is it really like living with an emotionally abusive family member, please keep reading to obtain an insider.
Know The Signs
Just as physical abuse, emotional abuse can leave some permanent marks that along the way could make more damage than physical abuse.
I am not saying that physical abuse doesn’t have any damages or leave any scars, because I certainly know it does.
Emotional abuse can happen in so many ways, at any given moment. It doesn’t only include emotional abuse by a partner, but it can also include emotional abuse by a family member. If you weren’t aware, it happens more often than what you may think. In fact, there are times when the victim doesn’t even know they’re being emotionally abused. For that matter, an abuser may not be conscious of the wrongs they’re doing themselves, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t wrong.
• Yelling – A usual tactic used by abusers to intimidate their victims and make them feel vulnerable.
• Insults towards your looks – It is not normal for a person to degrade the way you look or the way you dress. They will make it seem like you “need” to follow the standards that they “think” are what you should look like.
• Financial control – I have seen this too many times to count. If someone is keeping their bank accounts and money away from you (money that it’s yours) and they threaten you with not providing this help for your needs, that is abuse. To start with, it’s not even their money in the first place, so why are they keeping it from you?
• Derogatory-name calling – Some people may be used to hearing others call them “stupid” or “you’re an idiot” but, do keep in mind that this is actually something to keep an eye on, and be aware that it is not alright.
• Not caring about your feelings – Abusers seek power and they will do anything to gain that against you; even if that means being indifferent towards the way you feel or completely putting aside your needs.
• Blaming you for what happens to them – We see this way too often. An abuser will make every possible effort to turn the tables, and make you feel like everything is your fault. They will tell you that you should be more respectful towards them if you don’t want to have bad things keep happening.
• Making you feel bad for your interests – Once you start being vocal about the things you like and the things you enjoy, an abuser will tell you that they don’t like that thing you like. They will make it seem like you don’t have a good taste or even prohibiting you from liking said thing.
• Controlling your decisions – You may feel confident about what you wish to accomplish, but in an abuser’s eye, you’re just doing it wrong. They will tell you what you “have” to do and how to do it.
• Guilt – Abusers will make yourself feel guilty for wanting, needing or saying something. They would even go as far as to say that they once did one thing for you, and now you’re just being ungrateful.
• Turning others against you – In their eyes, you do everything wrong, so they will try to find a way to make others see what they’re trying to portray you as.
• Isolation – This can be such a dangerous thing. Abusers tend to keep you isolated because they’re afraid you might say something. They don’t want you to discover the world on your own, much less be happy.
• Denying something that’s true – This can be regarding an argument, opinion or even an action. Everyone knows it’s true. You know it’s true, but they would never admit to you that you’re right.
• Walking out but never accepting the wrongs – Once they get tired they will walk out. They will make it look like you’re a burden to them or your family.
These are only some of the most common signs, but please note that there are more signs related to this issue. This is my take due to personal experiences.
But They’re Your Family
It blows my mind thinking about how people will find excuses and even accuse you of exaggerating everything, just because they know your family and everything you say doesn’t fit the standards of abuse.
It doesn’t matter who the person is. No one has the right to make you feel like you’re worthless or make you question your every move. It doesn’t matter if they’re your parents, partner, friends or family, abuse is abuse and no one should tell you otherwise.
It is not up to the world to debate whether you’re in an abusive household or not. Your feelings matter and those should be enough for you to reach out or seek help.
It’s hard dealing with abuse. Especially if when it first started you didn’t know it was actually abuse. You were so used to it that you saw it as a normal thing. Isn’t it normal?
We want someone to witness the abuse so that we can somehow feel safe, but someone knowing only spikes up our anxiety. We don’t want to destroy the family, besides, it may have been our fault, right? It would’ve only gotten worse if I said something.
These things keep running up in your mind and you’re so terrified of seeing what would actually happen, but that just becomes an illusion. You think that there’s no way that you will get out of that toxic environment.
What happened when you do, in fact, get out of that abusive situation? It’s a scary feeling. You don’t know what to do nor what to say. You do feel relief, after all those years of trauma and avoidance, you’re finally free. But still, somehow, you feel empty; like you’re actually missing that environment. That is completely normal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you for feeling that way.
Healing starts once you’re out of that toxic environment. It doesn’t take a few days or a few months. It can take years or even a lifetime to recover from the abuse. The only thing we can do is find tools that would help us better our mental health.
Abuse can lead to depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If you feel like you’re presenting any symptoms, please reach out. If you’re unsure, scared or too anxious to make an appointment you can find other ways to get the help you need. I wrote an article about Online Therapy if you’re interested I will leave it right here.
The aftermath’s of trauma can also change your behavior, you may develop insomnia or even chronic pain. Know your body and search within yourself what’s causing you to do certain things or act a certain way. There is nothing wrong with you, please don’t think otherwise.
Some people just think that after going through such horrific abuse that you will know when someone starts treating you wrong, but in reality, you don’t really know. Being so used to something leads to attachment and attachment leads to looking for that one thing in other people, which can be really dangerous. For said reason, I advise you to seek professional help or as I said, other options that don’t require you going to a doctors office.
Healing takes time and you should do it at your own pace.