It is difficult for many people, even after they reach adulthood, to break free from the scars and pain of growing up in an emotionally abusive environment.
Emotional abuse can range from a parent who ignores you to a parent who criticizes everything you do.
When the people who gave you life, or who are supposed to be the ones to take care of you, constantly point out how bad you are and insist on your lack of qualities, pain seeps in. your head and can stay there a lifetime.
Emotional abuse is a difficult problem to deal with
There are shelters for those who experience physical or sexual violence, but if you only experience emotional violence, there are few resources to help you.
It is even more problematic for children and young adults: it is difficult to share with anyone what the child is going through because the school counselor could then contact the parents, who would more than certainly care about the child. situation.
“You are just a too fragile child”, “Why are you telling this at school?”, “You will see when you have children how difficult it is, you dramatize”, etc.
This may eventually backfire on the victim, who will feel that there is no one there who can understand her. It could also lead her to think that she is indeed too fragile and that she is exaggerating.
What is emotional abuse?
We can define it simply by: the demeaning of the feelings of a person which leads him to perceive himself as incompetent, little or not worthy to be liked, which has no value.
The pain and feelings of worthlessness that result from such treatment are immense.
After all, if the people who theoretically should care about you the most in life constantly find ways to put you down and show how stupid and useless you are, there will come a time when it will be hard to believe that you don’t. is not true.
The consequences when the child becomes an adult
Many people can spend years trying to overcome these feelings of worthlessness. The struggle of finding ways to ensure true and lasting self-confidence is a long one.
This can be done through therapy, through discussions with sympathetic friends or other family members, through contact with victim cells.
The scars of emotional abuse are often invisible, until they manifest as outbursts of anger or feelings of sadness or depression. Anxiety and worry are also often the result of having lived an emotionally violent childhood.
The impression of being in danger, of feeling perpetually vulnerable are commonplace.
If you have or had a strained relationship with your parents and think your current attitude could be the result of their actions, look for the following 11 signs. They should tell you you’ve had an emotionally abusive parent, experts say.
1. You have unhealthy relationships with others
It is extremely difficult to have healthy emotional relationships when the example set by your parents seems to point to the opposite. If you’ve been taught to relate to others by being passive-aggressive, manipulative, or not to connect too much with others because you might be hurt, it could all be from childhood.
Relationships with parents are the first relationship you form, and they can have a domino effect later in life.
The ability to engage in healthy relationship patterns is linked to social emotional skills.
When children are emotionally abusive in care, trust is compromised and the ability to form and maintain healthy relationships is impaired.
2. You have low self-esteem
Persistent exposure to belittling, berating, name calling, and verbal punishment breaks a child’s sense of competence and forms a basis for doubt, self-hatred, and worthlessness.
This emotional violence destroys all hope, any pride and motivation. There is also a considerable risk of mental health problems such as depression or a poor ability to regulate emotions functionally after reaching adulthood.
Dealing with verbal abuse while growing up is not easy. Being constantly criticized and being told repeatedly that you weren’t up to it is something that can only stay with you.
But it’s important to remember that what you were told when you were younger isn’t necessarily the truth, and your self-esteem can be rebuilt as an adult.
And if that’s the case for you, don’t hesitate to talk to other loved ones or a mental health professional. They can help you undo some of these notions that were put to you from an early age.
3. You are very pessimistic
Long-term exposure to negativity and personal attacks damages the foundations of hope. This creates a negative self-perception that solidifies over time.
When you grow up, if all you heard was a negative outlook, it can be difficult to see the positives afterwards.
Parents who did not show you that the dark sides of life are setting your example yet again and this is something that could still affect you as an adult.
But that doesn’t have to be the case for you. By speaking with a professional, they can teach you to see the positives in every situation, even the bad.
4. You repress your emotions
Children learn to repress their emotions to survive the pain of emotional attacks and ending feelings is necessary for their psychological survival.
Suppressing your emotions is a coping mechanism that you may have developed in childhood to deal with emotional abuse from your parents.
If you ignore a feeling, you don’t have to feel it, and you may feel like you’re making your life easier under the extreme circumstances.
But this coping mechanism can present difficulties later in life because it can make it difficult to relate to others.
If you are having difficulty dealing with emotions or having relationships with others, this may be an indicator of emotional abuse you suffered as a child.
5. You need to be the center of attention
A child who does not receive praise, recognition or acceptance grows up desiring more than anything to be able to connect with people while seeking positive attention.
Emotional violence starves a child in terms of love and affection, which often results in an inordinate need to want to please, to be loved.
If you were neglected as a child or received only negative attention, it may be natural to seek emotional validation and attention in another way.
Even if you are in a stable situation now, with positive people around you, you might tend to be very compliment-seeking, always actively seeking out what you were deprived of as a child.
6. Your parent teased you excessively
Joking is allowed, but some teasing can cross the line very easily.
If you feel like you’ve been put aside or laughed at about your insecurities a lot, it can be considered emotional abuse, especially if the teasing was a form of manipulation to keep your self-esteem low.
People exposed to repeated experiences of mockery, humiliation, and interactions aimed at demoralizing learn to interact with others in the same way.
If you find that you push others away through aggressive teasing or have negative self-esteem, you probably experienced emotional abuse as a child.
7. You have been ignored
Verbal violence is the most obvious form of emotional violence, but what is less obvious is violence resulting from voluntary isolation.
Being ignored in this context is, for example, when you expressed a need or a point of view and it was never approved by your parents. You then felt rejected as a result.
They let you know, through exclusion, that what you were saying made no sense and it ended up ruining your confidence.
If you were constantly feeling lonely or being intentionally repelled by your parents, it may have caused you to engage in negative behaviors as you got older.
8. Comparisons between your siblings were frequent.
Another tactic of emotional abusers is comparison. By constantly measuring yourself against your siblings, your parents may have been able to create a feeling of insecurity and succeed in making you question your own worth.
Instead of showcasing your strengths, your weaknesses were brought to the fore by your parents.
Compared to the supposed virtues of your brothers and sisters, you were nothing. Not only is this painful in terms of self-esteem but it may also have damaged the relationship you might have had with your siblings.
9. Your life was under pressure and under control
Sometimes emotional abuse is just love that feels like it has conditions .
Always under pressure, under a magnifying glass, you felt that you had to constantly excel at the risk of losing your parents’ love.
This leads to great insecurity and the feeling that relationships are always subject to conditions.
In fact, if the affection of your parents was ever determined only by your performance in school, in sports, etc., it must have left an indelible mark on the way you are.
But it’s important to remember that it’s possible to be loved unconditionally, even if you didn’t get that promotion or still haven’t published your book.
10. You were made to feel guilty
An emotionally abusive parent will make a child (regardless of age) feel guilty for forming relationships outside of the one they have together.
It can also lead to guilt for other things that have nothing to do with the child, just to have the satisfaction of his emotional reaction.
This abusive parent will make statements such as “you let me down”, “I feel you are pulling away from me” or “why do you prefer these strangers to me who raised you?”
11. You had no privacy
Boundaries are important in any relationship, especially a relationship with your parents.
If these have constantly invaded your privacy, in an unnecessary way, it is obvious that they have not listened to or respected the limits that you had put in place.
A parent can spend their time “snooping” on the computer or cell phone, or consulting the diary for private information about the child.
The parent will also accuse the child of being sneaky, reproach him for having secrets, projecting his own behavior onto him.
Still, it’s important to understand what your current boundaries are and let your friends and family know that they can’t be crossed.
A dreadful song on repeat in my head
There is no easy way to heal when you grew up with emotionally abusive parents or guardians.
One of the biggest problems is that the words you have learned are repeated over and over in your head, and those voices keep telling you that your mom or dad was right about you: “You will never be successful. No one will ever love you. You won’t get that raise or that job. You are ugly, fat, worthless. ” The list is long…
The self-talk that results from these constant refrains will follow you as you grow older. Unless you catch yourself one day repeating something you’ve been told and suddenly you realize it’s not true.
Become aware of your negative self-talk. Purposefully change your refrain. It is a powerful way to free yourself from the prison created by your abusive upbringing.
It’s not easy, that’s for sure. These choruses, like a song you can’t get out of your head, will play over and over again.
Sometimes you are not even aware that they are there. You just feel “disillusioned” or “sad” or “depressed”.
You might even call the abusive parent to let them know how sad you feel – big mistake! Even an adult, he may remind you that there is nothing to hope for in life when you are someone like you.
Take full measure of what happened in your childhood
So choose to be aware of what your mind is telling you. Recognize what comes out of something that was repeated to you as a child.
You can reduce these negative refrains to nothing, replacing them with a different language. A language that will strengthen your confidence and give you a chance to have another point of view.
If you become aware of the negative refrains, you can choose to cancel them and start taking care of yourself .
Imagine crossing out with a big red X the words the voice says you are not good enough.
Replace them with something positive: “I am human and I am just as capable as anyone else of success”, for example.
Learn how to bypass the lyrics of this song
When you hear these negative refrains playing in your head, be prepared to replace them with a more neutral refrain: “My parents were weak people, who maybe thought that telling me I was no good was a way of inspire me. The problem is, they got it all wrong. I have a lot to offer and I will find ways to make it happen. ”
Don’t be too positive if your mind rejects this.
Instead, start with small statements: “I’m learning to love and forgive myself” or “when I have a negative thought like this, I need to replace it with something that gives me confidence.”
Negative self-talk brings emotional abuse to life and keeps it alive.
As a child, you had the feeling of being trapped and surely wanted to be an adult and free. But give your adult self, your own mind time to find its freedom.
These voices cannot continue to exist unless you give them importance.