Emotional Abuse
Neil Wood-Gaiger BSc (Hons) Psych; Ad Dip CP; Dip Hyp CS; MBPsS; MCS (Acc); MHS
Hypnotherapist ~ Psychotherapist ~

Emotional Abuse

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The psychology of emotional abuse

Emotional abuse leaves the victims blaming themselves and questioning their own perceptions over the behaviour of the abusive partner and it can start very insidiously.

The abuser can be anyone, a man abusing their partner, or a wife henpecking her husband, a parent belittling their child or a son or daughter neglecting their elderly parent or grandparent. It can be a boss over working their employee or a child bullying another. In short both the abuser and the abused can be anyone, regardless of gender or age.

Emotional abuse occurs when one’s feelings, thoughts, preferences, desires, needs, appearance or friendships are trivialised or made to appear inconsequential relative to the abuser’s. In other words, the abuser constructs the relationship and the world of the victim according to their terms and conditions over that of the abused and for their own gratification, which is often simply control over the abused.

To hold power over the abused, the abuser will resort to a number of tactics designed to hold their victim emotionally captive. To this end the abuser may lavish the abused with flattery and praise, complimenting them and making them feel remarkably indebted for the special, often overly generous attention. At the same time, the abuser may make the abused feel like they are the only person who understands them, or is special to them. Unfortunately, the abused significance to the abusers well-being becomes a weapon to use against them later. If they try to escape the relationship, they may then try to hold them emotionally hostage by positioning them as ungrateful for the special attention that has been lavished on them and hurtful when they are the only person in whom the abuser can confide and gain support and understanding. Thus the grip of the abuser tightens and the abused feels guilty and ashamed for hurting or abandoning this person who needs them so much and who has paid them such special attention.

If the abused seems to be escaping the abuser’s grip, the abuser they may then resort to more sinister control strategies. They may place their well-being or their very life in the hands of the abused. They may threaten to hurt himself or herself or even commit suicide if they are left. Thus now feeling overwhelmingly responsible for their abuser’s welfare, the abused succumbs to their demands for an ever-exclusive relationship. The abuser can then becomes more prone to using negative and upsetting control strategies to maintain this grip, knowing that their threat of self-harm is now all that is necessary to maintain compliance. The victim slowly feels their self-esteem erode as they become increasingly frightened and isolated.

The abuser has caused their victim to believe this is all their responsibility and the dynamics of the situation lead the abused to believe no one understands the uniqueness of their situation; that the abuser is really a good person, if not for their current troubles and likely a troubled past through no fault of their own. The victim sinks deeper and deeper. School or work performance suffers. Depression and anxiety sets in and self-isolation escalates as they begin to feel fully dependent upon the abuser to maintain a degraded self while the abuser can do as they like. The abuser can now toy with the relationship; it can be off and on at their whim, they can cheat, lie, manipulate and steal and the abused is stuck with it.

In view of the abuse, friends may try to warn them and may even threaten the abuser to cease their behaviour. Parents may find themselves in conflict with their abused daughter or son, recognising their plight, but unable to convince them of the dynamics. After all, they started out so nice and they have their own issues, so they must love me underneath all of our problems and besides, I can’t leave them, because their welfare now rests on my shoulders.

Escaping such emotional abusive clutches will likely require counselling. Counselling is aimed at helping the abused cognitively step back and process the situation, such that they may come to understand the nature of the relationship and the abuse. Further, counselling will be aimed at providing tools or strategies to help them extricate themselves from the relationship even in view of the threats of harm imposed by the abuser. In other words, counselling is aimed at releasing the abused as hostage and helping her develop better boundaries to withstand the psychological manipulations of the abuser.

To book your FREE initial consultation call Neil anytime on 07968 465933
or email any questions to neil@woodgaiger.co.uk


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Neil Wood-Gaiger Counselling Hypnotherapy Taunton Glastonbury Somerset
Practice address
Rowan Cottage
130 Wells Road
Tel: 07968 465933 (mobile)
Email: neil@woodgaiger.co.uk


The British Psychology Society Member Insured with Holistic Services Insurance
National Hypnotherapy Society Member

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