How to Heal From Emotional Abuse


Emotional abuse, or psychological abuse, is a form of abuse that is characterised by someone subjecting another person to behaviour that can result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.There are several different types or categories in the spectrum of emotional abuse. These include: intimidation and threats, excessive criticism, undermining, emotional blackmail, and economic abuse.


There are various effects of emotional abuse, depending on the duration, severity and vulnerability of the victim.

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Long-term emotional abuse can have long term debilitating effects on a persons sense of self and integrity.
  • Research shows that emotional abuse can sometimes be a precursor to other forms of abuse such as physical abuse.
  • Higher than average rates of alexithymia, which is difficulty identifying and processing their own emotions.
  • Marital and relationship dissatisfaction.

Tip 1: Self-compassion

Self-compassion is when we extend compassion to ourselves regarding feelings of inadequacy, failure, or suffering. Kirstin Neff, associate professor in the University of Texas at Austin’s department of educational psychology, believes self-compassion has three main components: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

  • Self-kindness: Self-compassion entails being warm towards oneself when encountering pain and personal shortcomings, rather than ignoring them or hurting oneself with self-criticism.
  • Common humanity: Self-compassion also involves recognizing that suffering and personal failure is part of the shared human experience.
  • Mindfulness: Self-compassion requires taking a balanced approach to one’s negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Negative thoughts and emotions are observed with openness, so that they are held in mindful awareness. Mindfulness is a non-judgmental, receptive mind state in which individuals observe their thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them. Conversely, mindfulness requires that one not be “over-identified” with mental or emotional phenomena, so that one suffers aversive reactions. This latter type of response involves narrowly focusing and ruminating on one’s negative emotions.

If you are being hard on yourself, or you believe that you don’t deserve compassion and forgiveness, then a good tip is to imagine you are caring for a close friend, family member, or other loved one.

Tip 2: Empathy

Being able to empathise with those that hurt us can help us to see them as a fallible and wounded person, as opposed to just an evil monster. Trying to better understand and empathise with abusers is not to excuse or justify their behaviour, rather, to see them as a three-dimensional and complicated person also with feelings, emotions, pain, and a story to tell, which led them to their behaviours.Here are some good questions to ask your ask yourself and consider which should help you to better empathise with those who unfortunately chose to misuse language towards you:

  • How were they raised?
  • What were their parents like?
  • What emotions were they feeling at the time?
  • Have they experienced any traumas before?
  • What needs of theirs were not being met?
  • Did someone talk to them in the same way?
  • What other lessons can you learn from this?

Tip 3: Self-esteem

Our self-esteem can take a major toll after being exposed to emotional abuse, and those who have higher self-esteem will naturally be more protected towards insults, criticism and psychological trauma.There are numerous ways of increasing our self-esteem, which are listed below:

1) Skills and talents: Learn a new skill, take up a new hobby and increase your repertoire of talents.

2) Achievements: Set goals, and aim to accomplish them. A sense of achievement can do wonders for self-esteem.

3) Relationships: Healthy relationships are really important to our overall sense of well being, so minimise negative and toxic ones, grow existing positives ones, and even seek out new ones if necessary.

4) Self-compassion: If you ever feel low, practice having compassion for yourself, like you would for a close friend or family member.

5) Assertive communication: Try to practice assertive communication more, instead of passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive.

6) Challenge and growth: Growth is an important part of life, so every once in a while challenge yourself to come out of your comfort zone, and try something new.

For more tips on self-esteem, check out this extended post:


“Hurt people hurt people. We are not being judgmental by separating ourselves from such people. But we should do so with compassion.” ~ Will Bowen

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” ~ J.K. Rowling

“Refuse to inherit dysfunction. Learn new ways of living instead of repeating what you lived through.” ~ Thema Davis

“Being a survivor of emotional abuse is fighting daily battles in your head with a person you no longer have contact with.” ~ Unknown

“You were always enough, but if you learn to see yourself through a lens that is warped by the projections of wounded souls, then you may arrive at a less fulfilling conclusion.”

Related posts

How to develop self-esteem

Overcoming Depression

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