Mental abuse is also called psychological abuse or emotional abuse. It occurs when a person is subjected to ongoing abusive behaviour from another person that causes trauma such as anxiety and depression. It can include, for instance, the emotional abuse by a partner who has to be in control or the maltreatment of a child. Mental abuse can leave the abused person with low self-esteem and a chronic lack of confidence.
In a mentally abusive relationship the abuser gradually chips away at the individual’s sense of self-worth and independence to such an extent that there seems no way out. The process can include verbal abuse, intimidating someone, continually putting them down, controlling their daily lives and their finances and isolating them from other people, particularly family and friends.
The scars that are created through long-term mental abuse are enduring and can be severely damaging. They can include withdrawal, depression, emotional instability and sleep deprivation. Emotional abuse can also create a strong dependence on the abuser themselves, making it difficult for partners to leave a relationship without help and support. Emotionally abusive relationships are also many times well hidden, making it difficult for those around to really see what is going on.
Mental abuse is not restricted to women and children though. Elder mental abuse is thought to be on the increase particularly with us many of us now living longer and needing care in our twilight years.
Mental abuse is prevalent around the world and in all cultures:
While more attention is given to physical abuse in relationships, emotional or mental abuse can be just as damaging to the individual. While it doesn’t produce external scars, the harm caused to mental health can leave people suffering from depression, anxiety disorders and other difficulties that prevent them from leading a healthy and productive life.