Alcoholism and Emotional Abuse
When we hear that someone is being abused, we think of someone who’s being physically beaten or sexually exploited. Emotional abuse doesn’t get the same amount of attention, but its effects can be just as devastating. Also known as verbal or psychological abuse, emotional abuse refers to any nonphysical behavior that may diminish a person’s sense of identity, dignity and self-worth. While it can go hand-in-hand with physical or sexual abuse, emotional abuse also happens on its own. Abusers can torment their victims for years without ever laying a hand on them, but the lifelong consequences are just as pervasive.
Like other abusive relationships, emotionally abusive relationships can lead to low self-esteem, violent behavior, the inability to form healthy relationships, and alcohol and substance abuse. In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone to have a history of overconsumption of alcohol, emotional abuse and other destructive behaviors. That’s why any alcohol abuse test or attempt to recover from alcohol abuse needs to address emotional abuse as well.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse doesn’t leave visible scars, but it can do just as much to damage a person’s self-worth. It manifests itself in a wide range of behaviors, most of which fall into one of two categories.
Some signs of emotional abuse are active, with the abuser making deliberate attempts to intimidate and degrade his or her victims. Some examples of active emotional abuse include:
Insults, name-calling, public humiliation or ridicule, making fun of a disability or other issue, or treating the victim worse than others
Harassment at work, threatening to harm the victims or their loved ones, or isolating the victim from family, friends and the world in general
Forcing the victim into dangerous or illegal behavior, including drug and alcohol use and sexual exploitation In some cases, the abuse comes from passive behavior, and the victim is in physical or emotional danger because the abuser does not take action. This includes:
- Not taking care of basic needs such as food, heat, shelter or medicine
- Ignoring emotional needs by withholding affection or not talking to the person, i.e. shutting them out
- Not providing or supporting opportunities for personal growth and development
Statistics on emotional abuse are hard to find, since it continues to be underreported and often co-exists with other types of abuse. However, we know that it isn’t unique to one particular race, gender or socioeconomic group, and recent studies have started to shed light on how widespread it is.