Most people, upon hearing the word “abuse,” think of physical violence. However, there are several types of abuse and among those, emotional abuse is the most prevalent kind, and yet it is the least talked about. At the same time, signs of emotional abuse can be more difficult to notice, as well; and for the person who is suffering such an atrocity may not even be aware of the situation being toxic and abusive. In most cases, emotional abuse doesn’t appear to be severe, however the effects can be both intense and long lasting.
What is Emotional Abuse?
Emotional abuse involves a person trying to emotionally control and holding power over another by means of criticism, embarrassment, isolation, shaming, blaming, or manipulating the victim in different ways. It can happen in both close and impersonal relationships. In most cases, the abuser is the victim’s significant other, i.e their partner. However, the abuser can also be the victim’s:
Business partner or colleague
Relative or close family member
Such abusers tend to maintain a persistent pattern of behaviour that deteriorates a person’s sense of self esteem, self confidence and mental well being, as well as they make the victim doubt their perceptions of reality. The victim ends up feeling suffocated and trapped, and feeling too hurt and drained to continue being in the relationship. However, they also find it difficult to leave as they are afraid to do so. This kind of abuse sets up a toxic dynamic where the victim feels that they have wronged; they blame themselves for the bad relationship and try to work hard to improve or “fix” their relationship and the person that they are with.
Types of Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse has many types and can take a number of vicious forms. They are as follows:
Verbal Abuse: This involves yelling, insulting, and hurling curses at the victim
Gaslighting: This involves manipulation of truth to make the victim doubt their own feelings, thoughts and sanity
Isolation: Abusers limit the victim’s contact with other family or friends, and restrict their mobility and movement. They might not let the victim go out and do the things that they normally do. This symptom overlaps with those of social abuse.
Humiliation and degradation: This involves name-calling, public embarrassment or humiliation, and telling the victim that they’re stupid and blaming them for all the toxicity in the relationship
Rejection: Abusers tend to entirely reject all the ideas, thoughts and opinions of the victim
Intimidation: Abusers will make the victim feel afraid, fearful and threatened. They’ll purposefully say things that hurt the victim.
Financial Abuse: This may involve stealing or withholding the victim’s finances, and not letting the victim work or be productive. This is a form of domestic violence.
Impacts of Emotional Abuse
Not only the most underreported and most common form of abuse, emotional abuse is categorized by the most debilitating and harrowing experiences that have the most long lasting effects. The reason is that emotional abuse is difficult to identify both for someone who is suffering from it and an outsider who’s trying to help. This kind of abuse cuts to the core of the victim and attacks their sentiments, thoughts, sanity and their very being. The wounds inflicted by emotional abusers take a long time to heal. The constant manipulation, isolation, false accusations and allegations, criticisms and verbal abuse wear away the victim’s sense of self brutally. The victim begins to believe everything that the abuser says at one point. They begin to blame themselves for everything and believe that they can never be good enough for anyone. They fall into a deep, dark pit of self-doubt, self-loathing, worthlessness and hopelessness.
It also impacts a person’s social life and wellbeing as they become much more withdrawn than they were earlier due to the isolation and manipulation tactics of the abuser. They thus become distant from their friends and family.
Emotional abuse also leads to a lot of mental and physical health complications as well, such as depression, anxiety disorders, heart palpitations, insomnia, stomach ulcers and eating disorders.
Tips on How to Deal with Emotional Abuse
Once a person has recognized that they are being emotionally abused, it is time to take action and finally find the way out of the abusive situation. Confronting and acknowledging what you’re experiencing for what it is helps the victim to take back the control of their lives. Following are a few steps on how to do the same:
Prioritizing Your Mental and Physical Health:
Recognize the fact that your mental and physical health are of prime importance no matter which situation you are in. Remember, the “I” is important. Prioritize yourself over pleasing the person who’s trying to manipulate and control you. The abusers generally tend to tamper with the victim’s sense of sympathy and make them neglect their own well being to take care of the abuser. So, put a stop on this unhealthy cycle and break the pattern. Eat enough healthy meals and a well balanced diet, give yourself enough time to relax during the day and spend time with your friends and family, no matter what your abuser says.
Take a firm stand and tell the person who is emotionally abusing you to stop manipulating you, stop calling you names, stop being rude to you and stop overly criticizing you. Let them know what will happen if they do not put an end to their abusive behaviour; this may mean that you’ll have to cut your ties with this person and end your relationship with them.
Seek Professional Help:
It is important to reach out for long term professional help in the form of therapy, support groups, and healthy friendships and relationships to help strengthen your sense of self and help you recover. Remember that you are not alone.
Work on an exit plan with those that you love and rely upon, and take action when the time is right. Now that you have recognized that you are in an abusive situation, you must maintain a plan on how to get yourself out of that dynamic. Discuss your thoughts with a trusted friend, family member, counsellor or therapist. At the same time, make sure that you give yourself enough time and space to heal from the long term effects of emotional abuse.
Covid-19 is an infectious disease which is cause due to a number of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was first identified in Wuhan, China is 2019. Covid-19 has spread on a global level during the 2019-2020 COVID-19 Pandemic. The Pandemic is rapidly spreading everyday and there have been about 11,000 deaths globally and counting. Looking at the way the current situation , it is only natural that the people might undergo some amount anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal and expected reaction towards something or someone that could affect us hard. For the world at large as of now, as of today, the COVID-19 illness is a major source of anxiety. For some people who have an anxiety problem, for them the anxiety just gets worse at this point.
Some of the triggers of anxiety due to COVID-19:
People are worrying about themselves and at the same time are worrying about people they love.
They are concerned about school and work.
They may also be concerned about their finances.
Their ability to take part in important community and social event.
Staying indoors too much is becoming a major cause of anxiety as well as it is triggering a feeling of hopelessness due to the social withdrawal leading to loneliness.
“Anxiety becomes a problem when you’re feeling it all the time and when it reaches such a level of intensity that it’s hard for you to function,” says Dr. Ziv Cohen, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
Symptoms that anxiety is getting the better of you:
Fear of talking to people: As long as you are away from people who do not show any COVID-19 symptoms, you are good to be with them. There is no need to be scared of talking them, but make sure you are at least 6 feet away from them.
Shortness of breath: if your breathing is becoming to quick or too shallow, it could mean there is a psychological response to anxiety.
Heart palpitations: one does not usually feel their heart beat when it is at rest. If you are able to feel the heart beats, it could be another sign of anxiety.
Methods of coping.
Engage yourself in selfcare: Deviate your mind from the news of COVID-19 by doing things that you like. Read a book, watch TV shows, write, paint and cook.
Call the ones you haven’t spoken to: Take this opportunity to reconnect with them.
Workout: Wake up early in the morning, go out on your terrace and workout. It won’t just help you lose the extra pounds but also would help in improving your mood.
Keep a check on the facts: remember that what is happening out there beyond the walls of your house maybe a pandemic but that doesn’t mean it is the end for you. If you take the right amount of precautions and stay within the walls of your home whilst being in self-quarantine, the chances of you being infected would be really less.
Break away from social media: with the advent of social media, it is no doubt that we are more in the loop of everything that is happening around us today. But, hearing too much of it or being too much informed can also lead to be fearful of the outcomes of whatever can happen. Moving away from all this information can help your mental health in a positive way.
Seek help from a professional: if you feel that your mental health is deteriorating amidst everything that is happening, feel free to call a trained professional in mental health and book an appointment for an online counselling session as stepping out is not the best option today.
To conclude, what is happening out there in the world is real. But that does not mean you over burden yourself by worrying too much about it. Stay home, stay safe, do the things you have always wanted to do. Keep your mind occupied and don’t spend too much time thinking about what is happening in the world. Take this time and spend it on yourself along with your family.
Blog post written by InContact Counselling & Training team. For permission to repost please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Even if children and teens don’t appear to be following the coronavirus news carefully, it is likely that they are absorbing the information and stress from adults. They are hearing about it from friends and making their own inferences about what it all means. Rather than leave this education up to siblings, the media, or friends, you play an important role in helping children and teens better understand what’s happening and help them manage their own related worries or anxiety.
The World Health Organization officially declared coronavirus a pandemic. Health experts predict that the virus and its impact on our communities are just beginning. We can help our kids manage their stress and emotions as they live through this pandemic. Here are some tips for different age groups that can help:
Talking about the virus to children in Early Childhood
Even though babies and toddlers may not know what is going on, they may pick up a parent’s worry and anxiety with their “sixth sense.”
Try to stay calm around babies and toddlers.
Maintain normal routines as much as possible. Routines are reassuring for babies.
Shield babies and toddlers from media coverage as much as possible.
Look for non-verbal signs that your toddler may be anxious. This might include being scared to go outside or to daycare, extra weepy, clingy, or irritable. Provide extra reassurance and time together.
Take the lead from your toddler. Don’t talk about it unless they show signs of distress or ask questions.
Talking about the virus to Preschoolers
Preschoolers may be more tuned in to what is happening. They may have questions about germs, doctors, and even death.
Safety is a primary concern for this age group. Reassure them that adults are in charge and working to keep people safe, healthy, and secure.
Preschoolers are also concerned about the health of parents, relatives, and friends. Reassure them that everyone is doing what they can to stay healthy and take care of others. Remind them that they can stay healthy by washing hands and make hand-washing fun with songs.
Preschoolers are not always able to distinguish fantasy and reality. Limit media exposure.
Look for non-verbal signs that your preschooler may be anxious. This might include being scared to go to preschool, extra weepy, clingy, or irritable.
Bedtimes are very important. Stories, books, and tuck-ins are crucial.
Try to maintain your children’s normal routines and rituals when possible. If school, daycare or events are canceled, try to create and stick to other routines when you can.
Give them lots of hugs and physical reassurance and limit media coverage.
Take the lead from your preschooler. Don’t insist on talking about it a lot unless they show signs of distress or ask questions.
Talking to Elementary School children
School-age children will be more aware of what is going on. They have probably had discussions at school and with friends.
Talk to your elementary age children. Explain what happened while reassuring them that you and your child’s teachers will do everything to keep them healthy and safe.
Children this age are also concerned about their own health, as well as that of family and friends. For example, they may have heard that kids aren’t impacted by coronavirus but that older people are, triggering fears about grandparents. They may be worried about money if they know adults are off of work. Try to spend extra time together. This will provide extra reassurance.
Don’t be surprised if they are more irritable and touchy. Be extra patient.
Limit media coverage.
Try to continue normal home routines, especially at bedtime. If routines are disrupted due to school or after school activity closures, explain that this is part of the precautions grown-ups are taking to prevent people from getting sick. It doesn’t mean that all of their teachers and friends are sick.
If fear persists, point out all the things adults are doing to help and to prevent the virus from spreading. Children like to be helpful and feel like they can do something from hand washing to writing letters to nursing homes.
Ask them if they have any questions. If they do, stick to the facts and tell them what you know without exaggerating or overreacting.
Talking to Middle School Children about the Virus
Children this age will be very aware of what is going on. They have probably seen news coverage and discussed the virus at school or with friends.
Talk to your middle school children and answer any questions. This will help you determine how much they know and may help you correct any misinformation they might have.
Seek out positive media. Watch, read, and share stories about ways people are responding to the virus in collaborative ways to keep communities safe.
Help guide your child’s worry into things they can do – like learning more about how to prevent the spread of the virus including washing hands and getting enough sleep.
Talking to teens in High School
High school students have probably had conversations with their peers and teachers. They might have fears about what the virus will mean for their own health, schooling, schedule or safety.
Questions about health, the economy, and public policy are all legitimate issues for this age group. It is important to discuss these topics with them if they are interested.
Acknowledge any worry, anxiety or fear they have and remind them that these feelings are normal.
Help guide your teen’s worry into things they can do – like learning more about how to prevent the spread of the virus including washing hands, getting lots of sleep, or making concrete plans of what you will do if work or school schedules are disrupted.
Some teens may want to block out the whole thing. It may appear that they do not care. This might be masking real worries. Ask questions and be ready to listen.
Some teens may make jokes. Humor can be a way to help them cope, but discourage them from using humor as the only way to talk about the virus.
Stick to the facts in your conversations and talk to your teens about what they see on TV or read online. Point them towards reliable sources of information like the CDC website.
Talk through the difference between going online to get informed versus media over-use that can fuel anxiety. Enforce a tech curfew at night and encourage them to take media breaks.
Talk about how events like this can surface harmful stereotypes and discrimination against certain people and populations. In this case, talk about the importance of disrupting anti-Asian and xenophobic sentiment in coverage of and response to the coronavirus.
Don’t use your teen to process your own anxiety. Reach out to other adults to process your fears about the virus or the economic disruptions that it is causing.
Negative reviews. A hoped-for invitation. Something happens, and an emotional reaction is triggered. Creative work is full of such triggering situations, including the excitement of inspiration, frustration in the face of obstacles, disappointment at rejections or failures, and elation of positive reception by the field. Emotions have to be managed or regulated to overcome creative blocks and maintain effort.
Although it can feel like you are hijacked by emotions, you have control over it . It is possible to react in ways more effective than the most immediate and habitual. To do that, we need to insert a moment between a stimulus (trigger) and the response. We can employ strategies to manage our emotions to better achieve our goals. Emotion regulation is one of the emotional intelligence abilities. This is the most complex ability of emotional intelligence because it depends on several others; to regulate emotions successfully :
We need to be able to perceive emotions (realize what is going on emotionally)
Understand emotions (know how emotions change, and what are the likely causes and consequences of different emotions).
We regulate emotions when we proactively act before potentially triggering situations happen (before meeting with a challenging colleague), or when we employ strategies to maintain helpful moods and reduce ones that are unhelpful for either our well-being or work goals.
Emotional Regulation For Creativity
The most dramatic demonstration of the importance of emotion regulation for creativity is the phenomenon of creative mortification. This term, coined by the educational psychologist Ron Beghetto, describes the loss of willingness to engage in a creative activity after being harshly criticized and experiencing strong, unpleasant, self-conscious emotions about it. This can happen when a teacher angrily criticizes a child for failing to follow directions on an art project in front of the whole class, and the child becomes, well, so mortified that she does not ever want to color or draw again. Creative mortification happens more often in younger children, likely because they have not acquired effective strategies for regulating their emotions.
My own research examined how emotion regulation ability helps creativity. High school students who had a predisposition for creativity—they were curious and open to experiences—were more likely to be described as creative by their teachers if they also had high emotion regulation ability. Emotion regulation ability predicted students’ persistence and passion for their interests.
In other words, emotion regulation ability helped students transform their creative potential into creative behavior. Other research shows that people who started their workdays in a negative mood and shifted to a more positive mood described their days as more creative than those who did not experience such a shift. Changing and regulating one’s emotions was beneficial for creativity at work.
How does this work? How can creativity benefit from emotion regulation?
To examine this, in my lab, we surveyed a broad range of people . Artists, painters and sculptors, writers and designers, composers and choreographers. They described three distinct aspects of emotion regulation in the creative process:
1. Creating emotional conditions beneficial for creative work
A sculptor described working on a painted mask and regulating emotions to create conditions likely to evoke the flow state:
“Before renewing the initial inspirational emotions, I had to create a ‘zone’ in which they could be evoked without the distraction of my current fluctuating emotion; in order to do this, I go into meditation briefly, and tune out my surroundings. I then create an atmosphere in my blank mind with music, or by feeling my work and soaking up the emotions embedded in its every inch.”
2. Choosing the best strategies for emotion regulation
A writer working on a piece of non-fiction listed specific strategies he employs for managing emotions in the process of creative work:
“During my process I take breaks, I go for walks, or I think it’s important to listen to music or enjoy artful food. Community and being in the world help me transform emotion just as much as my own meditation and time spent alone. I try to control my working environment so it is pleasant and stable, even if I have to move around while I do this.”
3. The creative process is in itself a form of emotion regulation
Artists describe their work as a way to regulate emotions caused by events outside of the creative process. A choreographer working on a dance described:
“These emotions were about my boyfriend being far away and my missing him deeply. They were about my performance anxiety and my recent lack of confidence due to having been screwed over in a freelance job and feeling totally unmotivated. It was about my persistence and the fact that despite my depression, I forced myself into the studio. The second I did, I didn’t need to work to transform; it just happened, as I knew it would. I’ve always known that dancing (choreographing) does that to me.”
Successful emotion regulation can influence and change emotions to enable creative thinking, maintain motivation, and sustain effort in the face of challenges. Emotion regulation is important to change unpleasant emotions (e.g., when anxiety creates a writer’s block), but also pleasant, but distracting emotions (e.g., when one cannot focus on the current story because of the joy of a recently published one).
Emotion regulation ability can come into play for creativity in two different ways:
1. By affecting emotions outside of the creative process (e.g., when emotions from family life spill into one’s work) 2. By affecting emotions that happen during the creative process (e.g., when dealing with criticism of one’s work). To develop effective emotion regulation skills, one will have to understand the consequences of potential reactions, gain knowledge of what strategies are more or less helpful, and evaluate what strategies would be most useful for a particular situation.