I recently found an entry on emotional abuse on Focus on the Family’s website. The article was clearly intended to help the church to identify, target, and reach out to women in emotionally abusive relationships. What’s ironic is how often parents in Focus on the Family’s brand of conservative Christianity, and especially in the even more conservative Christian Patriarchy or Quiverfull movements, employ the exact tactics described here as they attempt to keep their children in the fold.
What are the characteristics of emotional abuse?
Emotional abuse is any nonphysical behavior or attitude that controls, intimidates, subjugates, demeans, punishes or isolates another person by using degradation, humiliation or fear. Yelling, screaming, and name-calling are all forms of emotional abuse, as are more subtle tactics such as refusing to be pleased with anything, isolating an individual from family and friends, and invalidating another’s thoughts and feelings.
Examples of emotionally abusive behaviors include:
Humiliating and degrading
Discounting, distorting and negating
Accusing and blaming
Withholding affection and emotional support
Withholding financial resources
Dismissive, disapproving, or contemptuous looks, comments or behavior
Threatening harm to an individual’s pets, possessions or person
The effects of emotional abuse are often debilitating. They include depression, confusion, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and poor physical health.