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Psychological Abuse Can Harm Your Long-Term Mental Health

By HERWriter
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Mental Health related image Photo: Getty Images

Most people would agree that physical and psychological violence are not healthy and can really harm victims of these forms of abuse long-term. A new study supports the idea that psychological violence can lead to mental problems like depression.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol in England and at a university in Brazil found that “psychological violence during pregnancy by an intimate partner is strongly associated with postnatal depression, independently of physical or sexual violence.”

Ana Bernarda Ludermir, an author of the study, said in a press release that there is more of a focus on physical and sexual violence, so psychological violence can be overlooked in cases of intimate partner violence.

This is obvious even when looking at statistics. Most statistics focus on victims of physical abuse and rarely on emotional abuse. However, the Centers for Disease Control did have older statistics from 2001 stating that “1 in 5 adolescents reports being a victim of emotional abuse.”

According to the CDC, “each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes.”

Emotional and verbal abuse, also known as psychological abuse, is defined as “attempts to isolate, threaten, or intimidate,” and some examples are yelling, criticizing and name-calling, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

Mary Volkar, a therapy supervisor for the Center for Victims of Violence and Crime, said a way to help possible victims decide if they have been psychologically abused is to determine if the same treatment toward a best friend would be acceptable. If not, that is a red flag.

“When you put it in a different context … then she gets it,” Volkar said. “You have to take it out of … her own frame of reference and put it into another frame of reference for her to kind of get enough insight to understand … ‘You know what, that’s not okay.’”

She said that people who have been victims of trauma for so long don’t see themselves in that way.

“People who have been victimized their entire life, traumatized their entire life, don’t see it,” Volkar said.

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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.