Definition: Emotional abuse is an attack launched against a person instead of a body. Some victims of physical abuse state that they would far rather be struck physically, that to be attacked verbally and emotionally. The physical pain goes away; the emotional pain does not. One who uses this method attacks a person's self-worth, his thoughts and ideas, his intelligence. He criticizes appearance, performance, and results. No matter how much "hoop-jumping" is done, the attacks never cease. He barrages constantly and incessantly with emotions that communicate non-value. For the recipient, there is no peace even in the absence of the abuser/stressor. The mind plays and replays the emotional and verbal tapes Listed Below are Tactics of This Kind of Abuser:
EMOTIONAL BARRAGE: An emotional barrage is an output of a tremendous amount of energy usually directed at one person. The message picked up by a recipient is HEAVY, and contains feelings of guilt, blame, hurt, anger, threat, etc. There are feelings of being crowded, having no space to breathe. So intense is the pressure, that a person feels almost compelled to conform just to stop the barrage. This, of course, is the goal of the person sending the barrage.
Seldom does the emitter of such emotion ever clarify what he is doing. [It is slightly possible for the naive that they may not even be aware that their emotions are being felt. They may even see no connection between their energy output and the fact that they end up receiving what they want without even asking for it.]
Manipulators typically deny any such barrage, and then quickly shut off any indicator of emotion. Turn away and the pressure is felt again. It usually ceases when the desired response is achieved.
This tactic drains massive amounts of energy from the one being attacked. An emotional barrage is a power-laden tactic deliberately staged to achieve a desired end, to communicate disapproval, to get others to know what he feels without saying it. It is the major component in HIDDEN AGENDAS. IN FACT, IT IS USED IN TANDEM WITH ALMOST EVERY OTHER METHOD. It is often used very effectively by stressees who dare not voice what they feel or want.
The following are examples of emotional barrage:
[Remember that the messages from this entire list are communicated without words!]
1. Black Hole. [This individual constantly draws everything into himself and gives nothing back. He saps your time, your strength, your generosity, your soul. Without some kind of external source of strength to replenish what is taken by this person, you will burn out or wither. At the same time, he will limit your ability to replenish the very strength he demands from you.]
2. Disgust. [This is an emotional put-down. There is a feeling of having failed to measure up somehow. Requests for clarification are met with a further emotion of exasperation. The recipient feels embarrassment and shame.]
3. Dismissal. [The read-out here is the absence of emotion which, prior to some infraction by the stressee appeared to indicate deep value. This is part of the master control tactic. The withdrawal of emotional warmth is a way to punish and to train.
4. Emotion, Unbridled. [The emotional intensity of this person's emotion is so strong that you could imagine it "parting the Red Sea." Recipients of this kind of emotional barrage feel threatened, intimidated, coerced, etc. The emotion is composite in nature. That is, it is the result of many unresolved issues, past and present. There will be a blend of anger, rage, indifference, hatred, etc. With those who are exposed to it, there is real fear that this emotion bomb has a hair trigger to it. To compare it to an active volcano, the magma dome holding back an eruption of hostility is cracking. Virtually anything or anyone could set it off--saying the wrong thing, doing something which would displease or even annoy the abuser/stressor. There is the feeling that this emotion is being personally directed at you. In truth, all present will feel much the same way. Whoever set sets him off will be blamed for whatever happens while he is out of control.]
5. Emotions Withheld. [This kind of barrage is almost as paralyzing as emotion which is unbridled. Victims find themselves totally on guard, never knowing what is coming or when. Emotion which is withheld is typically one which is purposely masked. But since nothing is positioned as a replacement or a facade, those who know the person are constantly on the alert. When the explosion will come is not known. That it WILL occur is not questioned. The repercussions it will bring are probably known if the relationship with the stressor is of long enough duration. Those who are in a constant state of vigil have little time to relax and little time to grow. The absence of emotion is in itself at serious potential threat.]
6. Exasperation/Impatience. [The emotional barrage which comes when things are not proceeding as rapidly or in quite the way the stressor wants or expects, leaves the recipient with feelings of hopelessness. The emotion is usually punctuated with heavy sighs. Emotional warmth, if there was any, seems to be withdrawn.]
7. Halo of Self-Righteousness. [This is the ultimate arrivedness print. It is born of a belief within the person that he has somehow found favor with deity or with some other important rule giver who has an esteemed status. Rather than a humble gratitude at such a connection, his pride taints the emotional message he emits. This emotion is typically accompanied by a perma-grin.]
8. Hidden Agenda. [The feeling here that you are being "waltzed" somehow. And yet you don't have a dance partner. "Listen" carefully, and you will know what the person wants without any words being said at all. There is just a gnawing feeling about what you are to do.]
9. "I own you!"/Possessiveness. [This message of this emotional barrage is that of ownership. Anyone to whom it is sent has been objectified by the abuser. A person can be victimized because he is mere chattel, and like a car or any other possession, he can do what he likes with it. Abuse when it occurs can be of any degree of severity; sexually, the abuser can and will demand anything he wants. To hold back self, to deny the stresor anything, or to withhold information or any material possession is to provoke retaliatory wrath. NO ONE can tell him what to do with what he owns!]
10. "It doesn't matter; it makes no difference to me." [The position of being the least interested in whether or not something takes place, or the least interested in cultivating a relationship, places that person in control. The one who is interested in making it work, or has a vested interest in a project will expend an amazing amount of energy trying to boost the commitment of the other party. Sometimes there legitimately is no interest. In other cases, non-interest is feigned to obtain a position of control.] [This is the Principle of Least Interest.]
11. "I've got a secret." [There is a constant feeling around this person that he/she has a secret. Ask about it and it is usually denied, or it admitted, rarely shared. The language which accompanies an acknowledgment is that you wouldn't understand if it was shared anyway.]
12. Know-It-All. [The emotion from this person tends to rob you of your thoughts. It disrupts your thinking leaving you to feel that if you were to speak, you'd be upstaged.]
13. "Only you can save/help me!" [This is common to an abuser, especially with the person he selects to be a mate/spouse. He paints the picture that without you, he'll never be able to reach his potential or overcome his weaknesses. You are the only one who understands or loves him. This obligatory message will tie into the heart of a rescuer. Once hooked by it, the emotion will smother you. There is no intention of every letting you off this emotional hook!]
14. Storm Cloud. [This is usually non-directed emotion. That is to say, it is not directed at any particular individual. Like a literal storm cloud in nature, anyone who happens to be in the storm's path is apt to be rained on. Stressees tend to run from it. The emotionally healthy choose to avoid it. This constant emitting of emotion is part of the character of the person. In essence, it could be considered as the person's primary emotional fingerprint. There is no attempt to hide or mask it at all. Most likely, it serves them in some manner or it would not persist. Such an individual is not pleasant to be around. The emotion has a general dampening effect on everyone who comes close to it.]
15. Superior Insight and Knowledge. [The emotion sent here conveys the feeling that this person is a step above you in intelligence and knowledge. It conveys with it a posture of personal arrivedness.]
16. Sweetness and Kindness. [There are two varieties here. The first is the plastic exterior mandated by those who espouse a Fairness Mode belief and value system. It springs from their sense of arrivedness. The second variety comes from an abuser. For him, it is the forced facade he positions during the "honeymoon" phase of the abuse cycle. He has no power to maintain it.]
17. "There's something wrong with you." [The message communicated here is that you are somehow defective, that being around you is a major imposition or burden. The message is clearly one of non-value.]
18. "You are imposing on me!" [This emotion usually comes from an individual who doesn't mind doing something for others as long as the idea is his own. He resents anything which he perceives to be an obligation. While he will say nothing, you will know you have over-stepped his boundaries.]
19. "You are inconveniencing me." [This emotion is felt whenever the slightest request is made. No matter how legitimate the need, you will feel that you are imposing on his time or his goodness. You will typically sense some measure of irritation, anger, and resentment.]
20. "You aren't as perfect as you think you are." [The emotional message here is one that discounts you as a person regardless of the level of attainment you have reached. You are left feeling inferior and to blame for that inferiority. This is a constant undermining of self-worth.]
21. "You do it for me!". [This is a demand to be rescued. Those who send this message are also very difficult to be around. You will find your inner energies drained off. No matter how much you do, it is not enough. Do even a little, and more is expected. You can see that the person is quite capable of meeting his own needs, but you feel a pressure and an obligation to serve, and tremendous guilt if you don't.]
22. "You have to be my friend." [This emotional demand is closely linked to You Owe Me. In most cases, the demand is directed to a particular individual. The friendship is intended to be mutual and exclusive.
23. "You know what I want!" [This is an emotional demand that his needs be met. The message from an abuser is that you shouldn't have to be told what he wants. You are to anticipate and fill the needs whenever they are evident. Victims are constantly monitoring every cue, subtle and otherwise, in an effort to avoid hostility.]
24. "You owe me!" ["After all I've done for you, and all the sacrifices I've made for you, you won't do this one little thing I'm asking? You don't deserve ANYthing!"]
25. "You poor thing." [This is the emotional banner of a chronic rescuer. Almost always out of stewardship, this person is busy helping, fixing, doing for, and stepping in where no request has been made. They are stewardship thieves! Many such persons are stressees who are responding to cues which, in their original background, would have mandated attention in order to stay out of trouble. In reality, such a person is rescuing both himself and the perceived victim.]
26. "You stupid person." [This is an emotional labeling. It is an attack on a person's intelligence. Feelings of being a failure, of inadequacy, etc., flood over the recipient of this emotional message. Other emotions which typically accompany this message include: annoyance, anger, irritation, frustration, etc.]
27. "You've hurt me deeply." [This person uses a pity party to provoke guilt and to get what he wants. The pity party usually carries the emotion of anger.]
EXPLOSIVE RESPONSES: In the face of unpredictable anger, rage, and violent action, most victims learn to "walk on eggs" all the time. Abusers tend to by extremely hypersensitive; victims are constantly uptight. Where entire families are subjected to the abusive behavior of one member, each person works with the others in an effort to "not upset the apple cart", so to speak. The repercussions faced for triggering the violent reactions of an abuser are far too great to risk. In many cases, a stronger individual submits to the consequences, choosing to take the blame for things a weaker or more vulnerable member of the family or group. The entire focus of energy in such a setting is on survival.
JEALOUS RAGE: Jealousy is a common trait with abusers. Where previous relationships fail, jealousy tends to be amplified in those which follow. Beliefs will be in place in abusers which mandate tighter controls for the next one. An abuser's belief statements typically begin with, "What I should have done LAST time was...," or "What I'm going to do NEXT/THIS time is...." They then set in place the barriers they intend to enforce to prevent outsiders from interfering with the new relationship, and to keep the new partner from straying or being tempted. In fact, once an abuser selects his next companion, typically long before she has any idea at all that she has been "selected," his jealous nature will be dictating his behavior.
He weighs all her actions as if there was already a committed love relationship. The most innocent of contact with another person is viewed as betrayal. A mere glance in the direction of a potential suitor, even when there has been no eye contact at all, will enanger him. He draws closure about everything to the point of running "worst-case scenarios" in his mind. Any contact of any kind is questioned. Even legitimate time spent with members of her own family of origin or with friends is resented. He become paranoid about where she is, who she is meeting, or even who she MIGHT meet. To protect "his property", he checks on her frequently. Any variance from her anticipated arrival time provokes his suspicions. In short, he becomes over-poweringly possessive and controlling, dictating her schedules, the persons with whom she is permitted to spend time, etc. If paranoia sets in for him [paranoia is fantasized closure], and it often does, he will: have her followed, check mileage on her car to see if her reported activities matched the mileage travelled, etc.
Arising out of all this will be increasingly harsh episodes of jealous rage. His manner will be threatening, his nature increasingly controlling, and his responses will move quickly to intimidating and then violent behavior.
Identifying Emotional Abuse:
The following are actions typical of those who abuse others emotionally: