If we intend to find a particular ‘definition’ for emotional abuse, then it is not possible. Before jumping into any definitions it is important to note that this term has no proper definition because it is often used as a synonym for other similar terms. There are several different names used interchangeably to refer to the same kind of abuse (emotional abuse/violence, psychological abuse/violence, and mental abuse). Everyone has their own viewpoint of referring to it; and that’s why no definition has been given to it.
However, to make understanding easy, experts have joined several threads to come up with a description of the same:
“The way to control other person through emotions, by trying to manipulate, humiliate, criticize, shame or blame them in every situation whatsoever…it does not include physical violence, but is completely devastating for the victim to be at the receiving end.”
The biggest question someone asks when you seek help is: “Did physical violence also occur?”- meaning that they have made up their mind abuse is only alarming when it crosses physical boundaries.
Here are some main points that could prove an emotionally abusive behavior:
People who are narcissists and emotional abusers may say that “All this is common in any kind of relationship, after all parents/partners/teachers/siblings have this much right over the victim”.
If I may ask a very simple question, it might solve this matter: “Which kind of person would like to see their loved ones suffer?”
The answer could be NONE. It is only none. No other ifs and buts align with it.
• “But they were irresponsible”
• “But it is for their good cause only”
• “But we share mutual understanding and love that’s why it is okay”
• “But since we’re elders we could use our superiority to gain authority over the victim, it’s not any abuse”
These are the statements we get if we question someone’s unpleasant behavior.
Why, let me explain:
• If a person is being irresponsible or careless the solution doesn’t lie in name-calling, making them a joke or taunting them. The solution could be making them understand the consequences through various means. If they cannot grasp what you’re telling then wait patiently, some day or the other the other their actions will bear results. Remember that you are responsible for nobody’s actions and nobody is responsible for yours.
• No good cause will come out of emotionally torturing or humiliating someone; be the abuser is their parent, teacher, boss or any other elder. It will only diminish their own self-worth and dignity in the long-run (due to continuous patterns). The problem at hand may be solved but in the long run that person will start to feel under-confident and worthless.
• For romantic relationships, having mutual understanding is okay but saying that the other person has to deal with your abusive behavior just for the sake of love, is not okay. Love doesn’t cause suffering or ugliness, it is the strong cause behind the functioning of this world. How come something so beautiful has to include emotional abuse in it?
Emotional abuse is one of the hardest forms of abuse to recognize. It can be
subtle and insidious or overt and manipulative. Either way, it tosses away at the victim's self-esteem and they begin to doubt their perceptions and reality.
The main goal of emotional abuse: control the victim by isolating, excessive manipulation, making them guilty for putting their needs first and the other ways mentioned above.
It resides and thrives in our very society yet no one understands or recognizes it because there are marks to show. It slowly eats up the victim and make them question where have they been wrong all the time!