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Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer

By HERWriter
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Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer Photo: Photospin - Auremar

Physical and verbal abuse are forms of “visible” abuse. Scars and bruises, raised voices and demeaning and hurtful words are signals to others that something is not quite right in the relationship. It’s also easier for a wife to see and recognize that’s she’s being abused.

Emotional abuse, however, is much more insidious and not quite as visible. Certainly, a wife’s self-esteem and spirit are battered along with her body in the case of physical and verbal abuse, but a husband can kill his wife’s spirit without even raising a hand or voice against her. For this reason, many women don’t even know they’re being abused, or if they do it’s a long and difficult battle not only to work to repair the damage done themselves, but to get the abuser to recognize the harm that he’s done.

What are the signs of mental 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” (www.focusonthefamily.com).

“Nonphysical behavior or attitude” can safely be interpreted to mean neglect, invalidating another’s thoughts and feelings, and refusing to acknowledge the needs of the other (whether intentionally or not). Over a period of time, this kind of emotional climate in a marriage can squeeze the life out of a marriage and out of a wife.

There is a difference between experiencing or inflicting emotional hurt and being emotionally abusive—it is important to make this distinction. Abuse is a cycle. It is not a once-in-a-while event that happens and hurts someone else. In many “ordinary” hurtful cases, apologies can be offered if truly sincere and heal the rift that the hurt has caused. Many hurts are unintentional, and if they were, there is (hopefully) remorse on the part of the person who inflicted that hurt, once the anger, frustration, etc., calms down and cooler heads prevail. With emotional abuse there is none of this.

Add a Comment360 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

My husband and I have been married for 11 years, we have two children at home. I am at my wits end with him, all we is fight. Everything is my fault....I can not do anything right. I don't know how to cook,I don't know how to clean. Aside from our children that have chores, I am the only one that cleans, I do all the shopping, pay the bills, work full time, I am in school full time. He doesn't take part in taking care of the kids. If we are having a disagreement he will start yelling at me, I ask.. why are you yelling. His response is your p&**$#@ me off. He never says he is sorry, he refuses to admit when he wrong. I just do not know how much more I can take.

June 20, 2017 - 11:50am
(reply to Anonymous)

So you know that everything cannot be your fault right? So it sure seems that now is the time for you to take back your power and figure this out - find a therapist and focus on what you can do to better manage your life & your world. It can be super hard to find your voice, but you can do it - look at all you are doing now! Your soul is crying for some help, as Oprah says 'listen to the whispers' and find your path. Therapy will give you tools and insights that will help with next steps....Sending hugs:))

June 22, 2017 - 1:12pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to kimromancorle)

You are right, I have been doing a lot of reading about emotional abuse and how it can sneak up on you. My marriage fits the criteria, we have been together for so long and it just became normal, but now that our daughter is older and he is doing the same thing to her and it effects her. My eyes are wide open now.

June 23, 2017 - 5:42am
(reply to Anonymous)

You are brave. Step by step, bit by bit, moment by moment, thought by thought you will change your life...We are all with you:))

June 23, 2017 - 6:53am
EmpowHER Guest

I kept silent from my abusive husband n cheating husband because of my son....recently because of these. I got stroke. And ending with paralyse .if I divorced long time ago I ll never happen like this I feel sorry all my life. Now I want divorce but hard for me to go to all kinds of court n money people because lawyers are costly in New York. Anybody can help me

June 17, 2017 - 2:42am
(reply to Anonymous)

There are numerous social services offices in NY that can help you with advice, guidance and next steps. No time like the present to take back your power and move on, abuse will continue and you have a chance to change the tide. Take it and move forward - you can do this, and you will celebrate all that you are with every step of empowerment. Hugs to you:)

June 18, 2017 - 9:11am
EmpowHER Guest

I don't know where to start because I don't even know if I'm being emotionally abused. I just know that the way I'm being treated is wrong. I feel sad, exhausted and emotionally drained. We've been fighting a lot recently and I endured lots of "silence treatments", lots of dismissals. If wasn't for the kids I wouldn't even talk to him or address him because sometimes he doesn't even care to answer, it's like I don't exist. I know he's doing it to make a point or to punish me of my wrongdoings and I know it's wrong. I remember once we had a fight and I had to go out and buy something, he hid the car key to punish me, so would walk in the rain. Our recent fight was about sex, we just had a baby and I'm constantly tired, I do my best in this area but most of the time I find myself sleeping before I can even lay my head on the pillow. I feel so guilty about it. I blame myself a lot, mostly for not further my education. I feel like I don't bring a lot to the table. I'm being constantly criticized and feel I'm not doing anything right. I'm at the lowest point in my life. I feel hopeless and powerless.

May 25, 2017 - 11:51am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I feel the same way its gotten worst since a refirgerator slammed on my head breaking my neck and smashing up my whole back Pray for
Me . I'M Terrance a man. Libra is making me be
Quiet Pray She stop

June 22, 2017 - 9:44am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Why Adopting?Kids are gift and every human,Male/woman born of a woman,Has the Gift of Kids to be a father or Mother....Its not bad to adopt and also its also every mothers zeal to carry her kids for 9months,Breast feed and cater for the baby till adult hood.i had a friend who has been barren for 20years of her marriage and nature has it her husband and family members were encouraging and also prayerful for the gift of the womb,she visited all doctors and hospital for consultation and scans,test to see if her and her husband have issues and to no avail it has been proved by doctors that she would never conceive..She got worried and troubled cause she knew the outcome of been barren towards family members.. Am a Doctor and had issues with my husband too,We were already headed for divorce,I was depressed and have to sort for solution for my marriage,Went online and i surfed all night until i saw a testimony of similar problems in my marriage with a contact ''http://spirituallovetemple.webs.com/''. I have no option than to contact this great prophet Osaze,Who told me all that has befallen my marriage and also the future outcome.I was astonished with his findings and have proceed with a prayer section for me and told me to watch my marriage glow like a Rose flower in the Rich Garden..Behold after 24hrs of his prayer section via Phone calls, My husband came home that evening,pleaded with me not to divorce or never leave him,cause am his breath and life,Promised me he will never break the Vow we have sworn to keep till death...Wow! Great Osaze must be praised again....To cut story short! i referred my friend with this barren issues after i had her scanned in the clinic,Telling her All hope mustn't be on science(Its Man Made),Seek spiritual Help(Eyes of the Creator),I gave her his contact,She contacted him and i was glad that i could help her to cause she had twins after divine intervention...Its a miraculous deliverance for me and her,I have not met this great man,But i Urge all in distress,Breakups,Divorce,financial problems,Lost of jobs,Sickness which sciences can solve E.T.C, Seek for lasting solution to all your worries Contact him Via Email: (spirituallove @ hotmail .com)

June 27, 2017 - 6:38am
(reply to Anonymous)

I feel for you. I'm apparently at the end of a 38 year marriage. I consider myself a fairly intelligent woman but it I feel SO incredibly stupid that it took me this long to admit that I've been letting him run my life. He's been so subtle I'm not even sure HE realizes what he's done. Of course it's "all my fault" so I have to take some drastic steps. Please do not feel powerless. Step up and get whatever support you can. There IS more to our lives than following a path that we can clearly see will ruin us and leave us destitute. NO MORE! You are not alone!

May 31, 2017 - 10:20am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.