Emotional abuse: Most common type of domestic violence
Psychological or emotional abuse is the most common type of violence experienced by women and children and is deemed by many as the "worst kind of abuse," the New Zealand-based non-profit group Women's Refuge said.
Specifically, the UN defines domestic violence as a violent act perpetrated by intimate
- physical abuse (such as slapping, beating, arm twisting, stabbing, strangling, burning, choking, kicking, threats with an object or weapon, murder, genital mutilation, and others);
- sexual abuse (such as coerced sex, intimidation or physical force, forcing unwanted sexual acts or forcing sex with others);
- psychological abuse (includes intimidation, persecution, threats of abandonment or abuse, confinement to the home, surveillance, threats to take away custody of the children, destruction of objects, isolation, verbal aggression, and constant humiliation), and
- economic abuse (includes denial of funds, refusal to contribute financially, denial of food and basic needs, and controlling access to health care, employment, etc.)
Resentful, emotionally abusive partner
Dr. Steven Stosny, in a Psychology Today article, said one of the worst things that can happen to a person is to have an angry and emotionally abusive partner.
On the other hand, he said the worst thing an abused person can develop is "an identity as a victim" as this destroys one's sense of self and personal power.
- to stop the abuse, and
- to help the abused person overcome “victim identity” by recognizing his or her “ inherent strengths, talents, skills, power, and appreciation of the self as a unique, ever-growing, competent, and compassionate person.”
The educational site About.com, a New York Times company, said: "People, who use emotional abuse to control others, use tactics similar to what prison guards use on prisoners of war. They know that physical control is not easily accomplished. They want the prisoners to cooperate and what better way to get someone to cooperate than to manipulate them emotionally?"
Emotional abusers know that the "most effective way to gain cooperation is through subversive manipulation of the mind and feelings of the victim, who then becomes a psychological, as well as a physical, prisoner," About. com said.
The non-profit group Women's Aid said emotionally-abusive partners use several tactics such as:
- destructive criticism, name calling, and sulking;
- pressure tactics;
- putting down the person in front of other people;
- never listening or responding to his partner;
- isolating his partner from friends and family;
- monitoring his partner's phone calls, emails, texts, and letters, and
- constantly checking on his partner and not letting her go out alone.
Women's Aid noted that even though the behaviors mentioned above are not legally considered as crimes, the impact of emotional abuse "may be even more devastating than physical assault — and have much longer term effects."
It noted that it is more difficult to obtain protection for victims of emotional abuse, "or even to get others to take them seriously."
Livestrong suggested some steps that abused persons can take:
It cautioned women to "use your judgment, though. Sometimes confronting an emotional abuser can lead to violence."
(3) Seek help. "If you are not ready to leave your husband but you are tired of being hurt verbally and emotionally, seek professional help for yourself. This can be a support group for domestic violence or a counselor or therapist," Livestrong suggested.
(5) Avoid "bad coping mechanisms" such as hurting oneself, developing an eating disorder, or turning to drugs and alcohol.
"Stand up for yourself but don't retaliate verbally or physically. Repeated verbal abuse can be draining. Take care of yourself physically and mentally so you can be strong at all times," it said.