5 Consequences of Emotional Abuse that Shouldn't Be Overlooked

Psychological abuse leaves marks on the person who's suffered it. From difficulties relating to others to a great inability to believe in themselves. What can you do about it?
5 Consequences of Emotional Abuse that Shouldn't Be Overlooked

Last update: 30 May, 2022

Emotional abuse is a type of violence that affects the emotional stability of the victim and that, in many cases, goes unnoticed, especially at the beginning. Through words, gestures, and silence, the aggressor intimidates their victim when they’re alone and, little by little shackle them, taking away their freedom.

It’s a progressive and silent process, but very negative and hurtful because the aggressor tends to take advantage of the other person’s feelings. In fact, the victim often justifies their behavior and thinks that they’re truly guilty and inferior.

The most worrying thing is that, although it can be overcome with the right help, it’s very possible that it leaves some emotional consequences. These can manifest even some time later. For this reason, it’s important to know what those consequences may be and what to do about them.

Consequences of emotional abuse

Next, we offer you a list of the most important consequences of psychological abuse. There are many more, but these are the most common. Please don’t let overlook them!

A woman who suffered abuse.

1. Seeking approval from others

A constant craving for approval from others is one of the classic long-term repercussions of psychological abuse. It often manifests itself in unexpected ways, through behaviors such as:

  • Always being desperate to please others.
  • Changing personality according to another person’s way of being.
  • Being overly kind.
  • Putting their interests to one side to satisfy other people’s needs.

That need to feel accepted in the social environment, including with those closest to them, springs from a feeling of “not being enough.” Typically, the abuser planted this in the person’s mind over the course of the abusive relationship.

However, in the long run, putting other people’s needs before your own can actually become a weakness, because you forget about yourself.

What to do about it

  • The first and most important step is to fully understand that patterns like these aren’t positive, especially if they end up increasing your pain.
  • When you realize that you’re falling into this pattern of behavior, it’s normal to feel like you just want to hide away from the world. However, that’s not the answer.
  • Instead, taking time for yourself to recover your sense of self-esteem and feeling of comfort with yourself is the best way to move forward.

Do you want to know more? Read: How to Think Independently and Boost Self Esteem

2. Resentment

After suffering psychological aggression, it’s common to feel resentment. This may be both towards oneself and towards the person who caused the damage.

This accumulates over the course of time. Plus, it can end up manifesting itself in feelings of guilt, irritability, and frustration.

What to do about it

  • One of the ways to heal the soul in the face of resentment is through seeking forgiveness.
  • It isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. However, it’s possible to achieve it if you put effort into stopping feeding those negative emotions that you notice yourself experiencing.
  • Asking for help from a psychologist can favor the forgiveness process and allow you to finally turn the page.

3. Anxiety and depression

Anxiety and depression are psychological disorders that commonly affect people who have found themselves subjected to physical or emotional abuse. The destruction of their self-esteem and the constant feelings of guilt they experience create a negative swirl of emotion that can lead them on the path to self-destruction.

Often, victims experience difficulties leading their life normally, requiring outside help to get back on track.

What to do about it

  • Psychological therapy helps to manage these types of psychological problems and to continue.
  • Sometimes, even if you don’t really know what’s going on, just experiencing discomfort can be enough to call for help.

4. Trouble relating to others

Victims of psychological abuse are afraid of falling into the same trap again. Therefore, they aren’t confident enough to establish new relationships. Sometimes, because they’re unintentionally on the defensive and, sometimes, because they aren’t considered important and interesting enough for anyone.

Due to the emotional consequences of the experience, their ability to establish social relationships decreases. Also, since self-esteem and self-issues remain, there’s a high odds of establishing toxic bonds with others. Hence, you have to be careful.

What to do about it

  • The best relationships are those that are built up over time, based on both people accepting themselves and, equally, accepting the other person as they are.
  • Working on your self-esteem and learning how to get to know other people before establishing relationships are essential first steps for anyone who wants to build something healthy.
A man who can't relate to others.

5. Feelings of numbness

Going through painful situations in which your self-esteem has been attacked often leaves you with blockage that prevents you from feeling and expressing your emotions.

The victim doesn’t feel bad, but can’t feel happy, even when they have a reason to be. It’s as if, despite overcoming the situation of abuse, there was an obstacle that prevented them from experiencing those emotions that perhaps, in other times, arose spontaneously.

What to do about it

  • These feelings of numbness can absolutely be overcome. Everything is a matter of time and will.
  • The experience will help you make better decisions and, although it’s difficult at first, over time, it’ll help you heal those wounds that prevent you from unleashing your emotions.
  • The people the victim surrounds themselves with are decisive in fully releasing these negative emotions.

Psychological abuse isn’t forgotten, but it can be overcome.

The consequences of psychological abuse don’t disappear overnight. It’s a process that requires support, understanding, and a lot of willpower.

Although you may be afraid at first and there’s little hope about the possibility of healing the wounds, love, psychological therapy, and time will help you leave everything behind and move forward. You just have to give yourself the chance!

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Almendros, C., Gámez-Guadix, M., Carrobles, J. A., Rodríguez-Carballeira, Á., & Porrúa, C. (2009). Abuso psicológico en la pareja: aportaciones recientes, concepto y medición. Behavioral Psychology/Psicología Conductual17(3), 433-452.
  • Carballeira, Á. R., Almendros, C., Solanelles, J. E., García, C. P., Martín-Peña, J., Javaloy, F., & Carrobles, J. A. I. (2005). Un estudio comparativo de las estrategias de abuso psicológico: en pareja, en el lugar de trabajo y en grupos manipulativos. Anuario de psicología/The UB Journal of psychology36(3), 299-314.
  • García-López, L. J., Irurtia, M. J., Caballo, V. E., & del Mar Díaz-Castela, M. (2011). Ansiedad social y abuso psicológico. Psicología Conductual19(1), 223.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.