Family, Criminal & Children's Court Attorneys Since 1991

The devastation of emotional abuse

On Behalf of | Feb 2, 2021 | Spousal Support |

In the context of marriage and relationships, emotional abuse doesn’t get as much attention in the Wisconsin press as physical abuse does. There are undoubtedly various reasons for this, but one is probably that emotional scars are invisible whereas physical scars are not. Although the effects of physical abuse are more immediately noticeable, those of emotional abuse can be just as detrimental and even more harmful in the long term.

The impact of emotional abuse and how it affects the victim should be more openly discussed and widely understood. If you or a loved one is experiencing any sort of domestic abuse, please seek help.

What is the definition of emotional abuse?

The term “emotional abuse” is flexible, but it generally involves manipulation by the abuser of the victim’s emotions to create fear, anxiety, uncertainty and dependency. Examples of emotional abuse can include:

  • Gaslighting
  • Yelling
  • Personal attacks
  • Constant belittling

Threats to leave the relationship if the victim does not comply with the abuser’s demands

Separated couples entangled in divorce disputes often report emotional abuse as one of the main reasons for ending the relationship. As an experienced divorce attorney can attest, emotional abuse is more common than many believe.

The isolating effects of emotional abuse

Whether as the result of a conscious strategy on the part of the abuser or the natural consequence of the emotional abuse, many victims begin to pull away from friends, family and other social connections as the abuse continues. This may be partially due to shame, fear or damaged self-esteem. More often than not, it is a combination of all these factors. From the abuser’s perspective, keeping the victim isolated and afraid is an ideal tactic to prevent outside knowledge of the situation and to stave off any attempt by loved ones to extract the victim from it.

Getting out of an abusive relationship

The most important action that a victim of emotional abuse can take to protect their own well-being is to leave the situation immediately. Get help from family and friends if necessary. Abusers usually do not change their behavior, and the abuse often gets worse over time.