Emotional abuse has been described as being similar to brain washing in that it alters how victims perceive themselves. Through various means of emotional manipulation and invalidation, emotional abuse systematically destroys the victim’s self-worth, trust in their perceptions, self-confidence and self-concept. If left unchecked eventually the victim will lose all sense of self-worth.
- The abuser keeps the victim unaware of what is going on and what changes are taking place. Example: Your partner might control your finances, make plans for you, or not tell you what his/her plans are until the last minute. He/she may talk about you to others behind your back, to isolate you from them.
- The abuser controls the victim’s time and physical environment, and works to suppress much of the victim’s old behavior. The victim is slowly, or abruptly, isolated from all supportive persons except the abuser. Example: Your partner might have insisted that you stop certain social, hobby, or work activities. You might have gotten moved to a new location, farther away from your family and friends. Or you may have been asked (or told) to reduce or stop contact with specific supportive people in your life.
- The abuser creates in the victim a sense of powerlessness, fear, and dependency. Example: Verbal and emotional abuse creates these emotions. They become stronger and stronger over time.
- The abuser works to instill new behavior and attitudes in the victim. This new behavior erodes your self-confidence and self-esteem.
- The abuse puts forth a closed system of logic that allows for no input or criticism. In other words it is their way or the highway.