Young or old, rich or poor, and regardless of cultural background… Emotional Abuse is just as dangerous as other types of abuse but more difficult to detect - as its words leave scars that hit just as hard as a punch.. However, the difference with emotional abuse is it cannot easily be seen. Even with intuition to peel back the layers and know what is truly going on takes time - but as more people grow spiritually and evolve, so too, does awareness for what a person is going through without words. As now more than ever - things are transparent and people can sense or "feel" what is going on.. even if it is not spoken. Educators and Case Workers with these abilities are so very needed with these intuitive gifts - as children's lives depend on it.
Emotional Abuse is a form of abuse more common than most people realize. It occurs in both children and in adults. Oftentimes, many of your adult peers are survivors of emotional abuse.
You will find emotional abuse in places you don't expect it.. for example, like me in middle to upper class families where the sense of "shame and embarrassment," cause it to go unnoticed or undetected and especially downplayed .. that was especially true for me and how I hid it and refused to look at it for what it was for many years…. as everyone wants to think of their family as the perfect family full of love and togetherness.. To break or challenge that mold in our society is strictly taboo…especially growing up in a place like Michigan where people would rather "cut off" their right arm than let their kid leave and live their lives somewhere else.. Regardless of that mentality,with the economic changes in Detroit - that is what has happened over the past few decades.. and not just in places like Detroit. Oftentimes, wherever one lives in the world - children now-a-days move away for the betterment of their lives and to have freedom to live, nurture their "inner child" and be happy. Not all kids who move away are abused but many who do move away were controlled, bullied and emotionally abused - yet covered up the facade that they had the "loving and perfect" family. These are the ones who sometimes have the hardest time with doing the work - as not everyone can look at their wounds and examine what is wrong to make it better.
Victims of emotional abuse must first identify the emotional abuse they went through before they can make the breakthrough to heal it otherwise they risk becoming abusers themselves when they have children and unconsciously repeat the abuse.. not realizing they are doing anything wrong.
It is never to late to self heal or confront abuse. The worst excuse made in our society is when abusers age and become elderly.. It is especially true when a parent has dementia or some type of behavioral disorder brought on with age and failing health. However, this should not be an excuse. The truth is .. whether a parent was 30 or 80 yrs old - oftentimes the abuse was always there.. and just gets magnified with age and these behavioral changes. There are plenty of nice elderly people who help others who don't walk around having rages getting angry at others.. so society cannot label elderly people's age as an excuse to harm, control, belittle or alienate adult children or others they choose to victimize.
The worst part too is relatives who recognize emotional abuse going on but who are too afraid to confront it or acknowledge it. This I analogize to the Holocaust when certain people knew what was going on and pretended they didnt notice the abuse. By pretending abuse doesn't exist in one's extended family - turning a "blind eye" to it because a relative is too afraid to confront or address it -because it doesn't concern them or they don't want to get involved - reflects a cowardly "self-centered" way of thinking. It shows publicly they condone the abuse by remaining silent and by not having the humanity or compassion to acknowledge that it is occurring.
Many adult clients I have healed and/or talked to that are victims of parental emotional abuse often have to do the most amount of healing/forgiveness with themselves and do come to peace with their parents. They realize their parents cannot be changed - and they recognize some of the patterns they have repeated in their lives by choice of partner and/or their own similar behaviors. In severe cases of adult emotional abuse, most clients Ive worked with have had the confidence to no longer be around their parents and feel at peace with their healing and healthy boundaries.
In some severe cases, the damage inflicted was too painful and their own path to healing is why they chose these parents. Even to a 6 ft 4 adult running back… the pain and trauma of an elderly father half his size who verbally and physically abused him when he was young may simply be too much to bare - even in old age. That is why rather than take revenge on parents who were emotionally abusive, adult victims of abuse may simply choose to stay away to maintain feeling love and empowerment - rather than be reduced to a helpless child that is made to feel everything is their fault.
Oftentimes a victim of emotional abuse (because of the shame and embarrassment) can be good at hiding what they have been through because they haven't yet dealt with their truth. I know for me personally, I have been regarded as professional, accomplished, charming, outgoing, friendly, and well-liked by friends, peers and colleagues. Not words that I used, but words used by close friends who know me that I agree with as attributes in myself.. But like in my own personal example, the outward appearance doesn't always show what someone has had to endure privately. In fact, emotional abuse comes in so many forms and disguises it can be extremely hard to detect - which is why I urge those reading this to gain greater awareness and insight into yourself and others through daily reflection and mediation. As parents, educators, spouses and all members of our society - this is especially important as we spiritually grow and evolve.
Though my path and plight is to help love, nurture, empower and support children and adults to feel loved, encouraged and supported to dream big and grow up to be the best they can be.. it took time and healing to realize for me that having children of my own this lifetime was not my path. My path was to work on healing myself so that i could support and help heal all the kids and the adults needing to love and nurture their "inner child" - a path that is so important to me.
Like one of my role models: Dr. Seuss - who loved and helped educate the kids of the world without having his own, I choose to follow a similar path.. and deep down especially in my early 30s when I contemplated having kids before I fully sought help and qualifications to heal and fully deal with my childhood wounds, I was always too afraid I would "act out" like my parents. Though I know better now-a-days.. parenting my dog Romeo who was my first glimpse at what my parenting would be like if i had children - and with the boundaries not in place - it was disasterous.
"Lil" Romeo" - my 3 pound maltese born in the early 2000s was my child. He was the perfect example of not confronting my truths or setting healthy boundaries with my family who were overly involved in my life and decisions - even living a million miles away in Los Angeles!. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2005, Romeo was removed from me by my father who insisted i could not take the dog west. It was the fight with my father to have Romeo in California that was my biggest lesson that ended tragically. During my parents winter visits, I would make Romeo's flight reservations and my father would fight me canceling it. It escalated to my sister Pam stepping in and insisting and bullying me along with my parents that the dog should stay in Detroit with my sister in the winter and a week in a kennel. As my good friends know - my voice was not heard or considered (as usual) and this ended tragically with Romeo being unsupervised, running away and being hit by a car and found dead by the side of the road by a police officer. Though my parents and sister felt bad.. I was made to feel like it was somehow my fault when I faught hard to be with my dog and stop their plans. However, that is how a bully will operate - they will dismiss every thought, feeling and opinion you have - even to the point of making everything your fault.
To deal with the situation, my parents went out and got three new puppies. not a way to handle someone grieving over losing their animal they weren't allowed to raise. This example made it clear in my mind and my heart that I would not have kids as long as my parents were in my life and trying to harm and control me and anyone I loved.
Though you can't change or make abusers heal or get help.. you can take ownership of healing yourself through self-love and being brave enough to do the work and step away. Going through the digging work to unearth subconsciously what happens to you when your young (things you may or may not be aware of) and from many lifetimes where lessons repeat allows you to change the course of your life by removing negative programming and creating the self-healing you need. This will definitely lead to a more happy and fulfilling life. We are all here to learn - so those that say they don't have any reflection or growing to do have the biggest ego problems.
The idea for adult survivors of parental abuse is to set the standards for how you are willing to be treated - but this can only be done with breakthroughs made by having the therapy and healing you need.
Even as a healer - I have constant "tune ups" and do chakra balancing to be as clear a channel as possible for myself, my loved ones and for my clients.
By developing your own self-standard reference for yourself, truly nurturing/loving yourself while acting as your own co-parent, writing and telling yourself positive affirmations every day, writing down goals and "breaking" the cycle of abuse that tries to stop you..you will succeed!
and remember - an adult abuser may try to stop your growth if you get help. Oftentimes, they may take some ownership of their abuse with excuses like " it was for your own good to toughen you up" etc..or "i had no choice, I was abused," etc… They may also label you "crazy", "ungrateful" and say that "it didn't happen that way".. But by engaging in this type of dialogue and believing your abuser - it only continues the unhealthy cycle and makes you remain a victim.
When you heal.. that person is forced to heal too.. or they stay out of your life… as its a new day and your setting new standards for how you will be treated.
The other common form of emotional abuse in families - is abuse by favoritism. Another popular theme with clients that come for healings.
Oftentimes, a parent may pick a favorite child over one or more children.. and in some instances, one parent has to side with the parent doing the favoring - as it somehow corrects or fills a void one of the parents is feeling. but actuality parental favoring can do a great disservice to your children - not only to the favored child but to the child or children being alienated.
For example - a child overly favored over another has no boundaries and may have an inflated sense of entitlement and suffer from not being reprimanded. Since they are always told they are right - it creates a very demanding person who takes zero ownership of their behavior or issues in life with others. This person also has little understanding of "give and take" in relationships with spouses, colleagues or friends since they always have their way. On the flip side, the least favored child who is neglected or alienated are at risk for low self-esteem and depression from being subjected to their parents abuse and neglect by favoritism. The least favored may have trouble speaking up and defending themselves from years of being silenced and dismissed for their thoughts, input, feelings and actions. This is learned behavior through therapy that can be reprogrammed and "unlearned" for setting healthy new patterns.
Many adult survivors of abuse are in company with many in society today - they are your contemporaries who survived similar poor parenting skills that were somehow downplayed or overlooked do to the standards accepted at the time. For example during my generation, children raised in the 70s were viewed more as a social statement of the norm.. and kids were viewed as their parent's property. Kids were told how to act and how to feel. Their thoughts, feelings and truths were not to be spoken or acknowledged.. but swept under the rug. Career paths were encouraged by what your parent(s) wanted for you. It was this 50's mentality that parents learned and passed down.
In today's generation with spiritual growth, understanding and self-reflection, parents are taking a new approach to parenting that involves self reflection and examination to determine their own behaviors - so that unhealthy patterns of emotional abuse don't repeat themselves .. and so their own kids don't go through it by showing their kids they are encouraged and supported to be themselves and express themselves openly and authentically without fearing mom and dad's disapproval. It is these breakthrough examples achieved through therapy and healing that help stop unhealthy cycles.
For any adult survivors of emotional abuse - establishing one's own self standard is key. By setting your own standard of self love and truly practicing forgiveness towards yourself, you will tremendously help initiate your own healing.
Knowing you deserve to be loved and respected and by doing your best to be your own cheerleader is the first step to healing.. and truly setting that reference for yourself to attract those people in your life that treat you right.
Regardless of age, race, gender, economic or cultural background - please remember, it is never too late to work on you and heal from emotional abuse.