Emotional abuse leaves devastating effects on a person. It’s one of the main causes of anxiety and loss of self-esteem and it profoundly disturbs the personality of every person.
Adults suffer greatly when going through an emotionally abusive relationship, so imagine the effects emotional abuse has on the child’s psyche.
Being a victim of emotional abuse as a child is something which leaves permanent traces on one’s personality, in some cases even irreversible damage, and on their behavior later in life. And the reason is that this abuse most often comes from parents who don’t know better – it comes from the people the child can trust the most.
I have a very close friend who has experienced emotional abuse as a child, and I know how differently these people function compared to those who had a normal childhood.
There’s something different in the way they look at the world, and they still feel trapped in the mental prison that their parents have created for them.
So, how does emotional abuse reflect later in life? People who have gone through childhood emotional abuse usually exhibit these signs. If you have been emotionally abused as a child, you might recognize these habits in you.
1. Sensitivity to loud noises
Your experiences with emotional abuse have made you very sensitive, and this has manifested physically with you being constantly on the lookout for danger. Your hypersensitivity can be attributed partly to the anxiety you have developed and partly to the fear that has been a great part of your childhood.
Being somewhere quiet allows you to think clearly. Otherwise, your thoughts start jumping around and you lose control of the situation in your head. And if the loud noise is sudden, you might even jump.
2. Avoiding eye contact
You find it very hard to maintain eye contact with people. If you struggle to maintain it for even a bit longer above your limit, you start developing anxiety about it and you just want to run away.
Your subconscious makes you want to remain closed down inside and keep other people’s piercing gaze to reach deeper. And it’s just natural after suffering from the judging looks from the people who were supposed to give you love.
3. Introversion/antisocial behavior
You have felt betrayed by the people you trusted the most. You know that you let them in unconditionally, just so they can leave a complete mess inside. So, now it’s very hard for you to let someone else in.
That’s why you have closed yourself off from other people and you have created a distance between yourself and them that is shrouded in disbelief and doubt. It’s only natural that you behave this way – if your parents could, why wouldn’t others do the same?
4. Lack of self-worth
You always think that you aren’t worthy of compliments because you have been taught that you don’t deserve compliments. In fact, you doubt your abilities in every aspect and find it hard to accept that you are capable of doing anything.
That’s why you often don’t know how to react on compliments and you think they are insincere. And when it comes to what you can do, the mere thought that you need to use your abilities repels you from doing the thing you can actually do.
5. Avoiding conflict
No matter how wrong that other person is, you’d rather avoid conflict so as not to anger them, as you can’t bear witnessing emotionally intense dramas. They have been in your life for so long that you’d rather be the fool in the situation than experience another emotional attack.
You just want to be at peace and left alone. When someone is undeserving because of something they have done wrong, you would rather cut them off from your life than face them and try to resolve the problem.
6. Doubting oneself about everything
You may find comfort in someone you finally learned to trust, but you will never trust yourself enough. Each of your decisions is put under your pessimistic scrutiny and you doubt your every choice.
Your self-esteem has been ruined, and you find it hard to believe that you are capable of making good decisions. That’s why you often try to escape some responsibilities that require a decisive attitude.
7. Apologizing for everything
Another typical symptom of childhood abuse trauma is your need to apologize for everything, even when someone else stepped on your toe. Partly to avoid conflict, and partly because you have truly started thinking that everything that’s happening is because of you.
You think that it’s your fault that you are in the situation where you are, and you may even think that it was your fault that you were emotionally abused in the first place. At least, abusive parents make sure to force their children into thinking this way. Apologizing when it’s not your fault has become a learned habit for you since then.
8. Anger outbursts
When with people you can trust and who want to help you, you often find yourself bursting out in anger for the most trivial things. You simply can’t help it. You know you love them, and you know that you are doing a foolish thing, but the anger seems to be driving you down the road and you have no control at that moment.
The thing is, you have started replacing self-esteem with anger, or more precisely, you have filled the gap where self-esteem should be with anger. You feel a subconscious anger driving your personality, and you feel angry at your life because you never deserved such a thing to happen to you.
The truth is, it was never your fault that you were abused as a child. You never asked to be brought up by such parents who simply didn’t deserve a child like you in the first place.
You need to be aware, though, that people can often become misled in their habits, attitudes, and beliefs. Parents always try to do the best for their children.
Some simply don’t know any better than that. It would be no wonder if they had also been victims of childhood emotional abuse and they’re just continuing the circle.
Remember that there are good people in this world who will be there for you. There are ways you can get out of the prison you have been inside for so long, and all you need to do is simply wish for it and stay strong.
A professional writer with over a decade of incessant writing skills. Her topics of interest and expertise range from psychology, to all sorts of disciplines such as science and news.