Survivor Lessons on Emotional Abuse: Moving Beyond the Hurt But Saving the Lessons

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We the people will never let you forget it.

If you date more than one abusive partner, you already know, 
amongst your family and friends you are the one in the group who “doesn’t make good choices about relationships”. 


In society, we view people in abusive relationships as needing to be rescued. Fragile. Incapable.

Now, there is truth to this.
A smidge.

People IN abusive relationships often need assistance.

However, we fail to acknowledge that people who are or have been in abusive relationships have lessons to teach us also. 

For one thing, they have firsthand knowledge of what the early warning signs are.

When I facilitate support groups,  I tell participants that I came to teach AND learn.
In this post, I would like to share with you lessons gained from Survivors regarding emotional abuse.  I have changed all of the names.

Lessons learned from Survivors about early warning signs of emotional abuse in their own words

Early warning signs of people who administer emotional abuse via lack of empathy, sensitivity, or compassion.

I was diagnosed with cancer. 
That was shocking enough. 
But my parents were more shocked to see my husband being so open about the fact that he didn’t care. 
Didn’t know the name of my doctors, meds, how many pills I was supposed to take, when I was to take them. Then he didn’t know anything about what was happening in the next stages of my treatment. 
And guess what? 
He didn’t want to know.
My dad wanted to kill him because he couldn’t even tell him what stage my cancer was in. 
He wanted to kill him because not only didn’t Jake know, but Jake looked my dad in the eye and shrugged it off.
But I knew who he was 6 months into our relationship. 
I got the flu so bad I had to be hospitalized.   
He didn’t come to the hospital because he hated hospitals. He didn’t come see me because he didn’t want to get sick. No care package, a couple of phone calls.
That was my warning. I ignored it and married him.
Early warning signs of people who administer emotional abuse via humiliation or minimization.
Jim:  No more girls who correct my grammar when we are in front of other people.  Never again.  I felt like I was in the fourth grade all the time. It was embarrassing.

My last girlfriend had a way of making me feel like I didn’t know anything. I kind of lost my confidence.

Shannon:  No more men who have to clarify everything I say like they didn’t hear me the first time!

Like,  you say something.

But your man decides that he could say it better. 

 He remixes your words.

 Says, “What you mean is…..”

No. Forget that. I said what I said.
Kathryn: You know, when a person is prejudiced or racist against whole groups of people I will take that as a warning sign.  Because those type of people are people who just hate for no reason. 

You never think about it, but they can love you one day and hate you the next.

You didn’t do anything to them. 

That is just how they are.

They hate people for no reason at all.
Early warning signs of people who administer emotional abuse via parental alienation:
Pedro:  .…and because of my size, I’m an intimidating dude.  But I wasn’t seeing those signs.

What she was doing to her ex- keeping him from seeing his kids for petty little reasons, then getting her big pit bull body guard boyfriend to protect her while she mouthing and cursing in the backroom-she did that to me.

If I go back and let her yell at me, nag me, scream at me, manipulate me and control me, well, then I can see my son.

Early warning signs of people who administer emotional abuse via Name Calling
Tasha: When I meet another man, and he calls women and his exes horrible names I am not going to fall for that; “they were this that and the other, but you are so special and wonderful”. 

Now I know that he means me too. In a few weeks or months, he will be calling me the same thing.

Early warning signs of people who administer emotional abuse via Manipulation

Michelle:  I think there are signs when you meet a person’s family. When I met my partner’s family there was so much pressure from them to make her happy. It was the weirdest thing. 

She didn’t have to tell me a thing about her childhood. I could tell that her every need and want was catered to.

I don’t know, I thought that now that we were adults she was over that.


I felt pressure from her family to keep her happy no matter what.

So, even when she was abusive it was like they were feeding this frenzy to “keep her happy” no matter what.   

I just kept feeling like something was wrong with me. 

If I could just do better and be better, I could make her happy.

I will never allow a person’s family to make feel bad as a person.  Your partner doesn’t even have to say a word but their disapproving family can break your spirit.

They always say they want the best for Theresa. That is fine. I also have to make sure that this is balanced. Two people are in this relationship.

Antoine: When she says that she will kill herself if I leave I will know that the solution to the problem is not that she and I stay together. 

Tonya (facilitator):  What are other options?  Because if you don’t think of them now you will probably do exactly what you did before.

Supplied by group: 

I can encourage her to get help
I can contact her family to get her help.

I can contact professional help for help. 

For additional support has helpful tips. has a list of resources here LINK

 Readers, what are some other early warning signs of an emotionally abusive person?

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Post Author: Tonya GJ Prince

Posts presented/edited/written by: Tonya GJ Prince. Driven by her life mission to empower, inform, & uplift Survivors; Tonya is also the founder of, Braid the Ladder, & She is a social justice expert with over 24 years experience as a speaker, group facilitator, crisis intervention counselor, writer, advocate & activist. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her Tortie rescue cat MiaBelle, is her longtime co-writer. More
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