Emotional abuse can subsist under a cloak of acceptance. And although it should be called for what it is, and never accepted, it can be difficult to pinpoint by identification. There are at least eight varieties of emotional abuse.
1. Aggravation (See Psalm 102:8)
People who tease or taunt us are a source of acute aggravation. They aggravate our spirits and have the effect of cursing our name—our very identity. Aggravation is a much personalised attack.
2. Intimidation (See Psalm 109:20)
Those that threaten us are intimidators. Therefore, when we feel threatened we feel intimidated. This may be a broad description for most types of emotional abuse.
3. Denigration (See Psalm 22:7)
We are denigrated when we feel mocked. We feel singled out for ridicule and belittling. As a result of denigration we feel smaller of spirit.
4. Humiliation (See Psalm 69:19)
Shame is a favourite ploy of the emotional abuser. When we are insulted to the point of shame and dishonour we feel humiliated. Humiliation and shame go hand in hand.
5. Manipulation (See Psalm 73:8)
Those that would oppress us, either overtly or covertly, may either manipulate situations in our presence or behind our backs. Control is the major issue in manipulation.
6. Domination (See Psalm 118:13)
When we feel pushed and aggrieved by pressure through coercion we feel dominated. This emotional abuser is a dictator. They insist on an authoritarian control with themselves at the head.
7. Defamation (See Psalm 31:13)
Character assassination is a tool of the defamer. For all the good faith we may have built up, this type of emotional abuser is seeking to tear all that down. When we feel we have to protect our name we may be being defamed.
8. Condemnation (See Psalm 35:16)
Perhaps worst of all is feeling condemned. When we feel that someone is out to destroy us we feel the cast of condemnation against us. Understandably, it contributes to feelings of despairing.
Those that operate under the cloak of emotional abuse do so generally because of the level of hurt they have suffered. Their unreconciled pain echoes forth damagingly.
An important step in rectifying emotional abuse is naming it for what it is. When we can describe it and talk about it (“I feel…”) we have achieved vital milestones toward addressing it and eliminating it.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to Pastor Rick Warren for his Saddleback Church sermon, Breaking Free from Abuse: You Make Me Crazy – Part 6. Warren identified these eight factors as marks of emotional abuse from the life of David in the Psalms.