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Abuse includes verbal abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse directed at anyone.
Verbal abuse includes: attacks on the nature and abilities of another person; and includes angry outbursts such as cursing, insulting, or name-calling, as well as subtle disparagement in the form of "reasonable" blaming and criticizing. Verbal abuse may also involve criticizing the person rather than the behavior of the person, verbally coercing, threatening, or intimidating. 
Physical abuse includes aggressive behaviors such as pushing, shoving, hitting, holding, pinching, slapping, grabbing, kicking, burning, biting, punching, blocking another's way, or hitting another with an object. Destroying property or harming pets is also physical abuse. Furthermore, physically aggressive behavior can result in injury or even death to the person being abused. 
Emotional or psychological abuse involves any behavior that intimidates, frightens, terrorizes, denigrates, devalues, invalidates, or causes psychic pain to the target of the abuse. 

Abuse can be overt in the open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring ("silent treatment"), devaluing or unceremoniously discarding. Verbal abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.

Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse and disrespect are not healthy for individuals or relationships. Children who watch a parent be regularly disrespected by the other parent learn terrible lessons about the value, or lack of value, of virtues and skills such as courtesy and kindness. They are quite likely to either begin treating the victimized parent with the same disdain, or outright abuse that has been modeled for them or they tend to become angry at the offending parent for hurting the other. 

Sometimes we can stop others' abusive, manipulative, or disrespectful behavior toward us by setting and maintaining, firm limits around such behavior. These limits may include telling the person outright that we will not put up with such behavior anymore, or ending the conversation (even walking away) if the person continues to behave abusively. We may be able to learn and put into action such skills by reading books on assertiveness or taking a class or course on assertiveness through local adult education programs, but most often psychotherapy is most effective. 

Physical Abuse
If physical violence is involved or threatened, it's always best to obtain professional help and support from a therapist, if possible, before making changes that could enrage the abuser and possibly escalate the violence.

Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse doesn't just suddenly happen, and then abruptly stop. It's a behavioral pattern that usually occurs over a period of time. Experts agree that those who experience emotional abuse usually come from abusive families. They either witness the abuse of one parent by the other, and/or they were abused themselves by a parent. If you find yourself in a position where you begin to doubt your perceptions, begin to become increasingly depressed, and start to notice that you are isolating yourself from those who are close to you, these may be signs of emotional abuse. 

Many emotional abusers have been indoctrinated with their behavior to the point that they don't even know they are being abusive. Even when they don't realize it, they are merely continuing a pattern they themselves learned in their childhood. Some emotional abusers are very shocked to realize they are acting like their parents. Some are willing to get help in order to stop the behavior, especially if they feel they will lose their partner if they continue to be abusive. 

Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical or sexual abuse, and sometimes even more so, because the damage is deep and all encompassing. The worst thing that can be done to a person is to make them doubt their own perceptions, and in turn, their sanity. Emotional abuse significantly destroys one’s self-esteem. Many women become prisoners of their own fear--they become immobilized and won't leave the situation because they believe they won't be able to make it on their own. 

If someone tells you that you're stupid...that no one else would ever want you...that you are always making things up, you eventually believe it, and lose your own sense of independence. Words can hurt, leaving emotional scars that undermine self-confidence and self-esteem. Emotional abuse may include: 
· Name-calling
· Blaming unfairly
· Shaming unfairly
· Putting down
· Ignoring
· Ridiculing
· Insulting
· Constantly criticizing
· Screaming
· Shouting
· Yelling
· Threatening to hurt someone or damage property
· Rejection
· Abandoning
· Withholding affection as punishment
· Withholding approval as punishment
· Repeatedly frightening
· Repeatedly threatening to leave
· Manipulating with lies
· Making you feel guilty
· Making you feel like you are crazy
· Telling you that you are worthless 
· Treating you like you are worthless
· Distorting your reality (mind games)
· Making you fear for your safety
· Making you fear for the safety of others 

Other Forms of Abuse
There are many forms of abuse. To love too much is to abuse. It is tantamount to treating someone as an extension, an object, or an instrument of gratification. To be over-protective, not to respect privacy, to be brutally honest with a sadistic sense of humor, or consistently tactless – is to abuse. Abusers exploit, lie, insult, demean, ignore (the "silent treatment"), manipulate, and control. To expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore – are all forms of abuse. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse and the list can go on. Many abusers abuse surreptitiously; they are also known as, ” stealth abusers". You have to actually live with one in order to witness the abuse. 

The Pattern of Abuse
The bulk of abusive behaviors can be traced to a panicky reaction to the perceived threat of loss of control. Many abusers are afraid to loose control. They stalk people and harass them as a means of "being in touch" – another form of control. Independent or disobedient people evoke in the abuser the realization that something is wrong with his world view, that he is not the center of the world or its cause, and that he cannot control his internal representations. In his frantic efforts to maintain control or re-assert it, the abuser resorts to a myriad of abusive strategies and mechanisms; often physical, emotional, and/or abusive in nature. The abuser often tries to establish dependency in his victim, making sure that he or she is the only reliable element in the lives of his nearest and dearest – by shattering the rest of their world through his controlling behavior. 


Psychotherapy and, in some cases, medication, can be helpful in alleviating the many difficulties which are evident in both the victim and the abuser. Many symptoms begin to appear in the victim such as withdrawal, anxiety, depression, or even suicidal thoughts. Some victims may even experience sleep disorders, compulsions, panic attacks, obsessions, phobias, or self-harming behavior. Psychotherapy and/or medication can help alleviate these symptoms.

If you want more information about abuse, want to discuss your particular needs, or want to schedule an appointment, call our offices today.  We can help match you with a therapist that best meets your needs

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