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People suffering from an eating disorder often experienced some form of abuse in their lives. Emotional abuse is one such form of abuse that is frequently overlooked. Emotional abuse can either be verbal or nonverbal. Teasing, belittling, sarcasm, and taunting are all forms of verbal emotional abuse. Nonverbal abuse might take the form of expecting more from children than they can reasonably deliver. Conditional love, with its message of “I love you, but…” is also a form of emotional abuse.

Emotional and verbal abuse are easy to deny because the scars are hidden; there are no bruises to heal, no visible wounds to point to. It is harder to say, “Yes, this really happened!” If you have always lived with them, these behaviors might even seem “normal” to you. But for all of their seeming invisibility, they can be very damaging.

It can also be difficult to pinpoint the symptoms of emotional abuse as they happen in a person’s life. They may have grown up with the behavior, believe it to be normal, or worse, believe the abuse to be their fault. Here are thirteen signs a person is being emotionally abusive.

A person is emotionally abusive if they:

  1. Refuse to consider your opinion then attempt to force their opinion on you without consideration for your point-of-view.
  2. Always have to be right when there is a disagreement.
  3. Devalue your feelings with phrases like, “You’re crazy!” or, “How could you think such a thing?”
  4. Use unrealistic guilt—guilt that is not in line with the situation—to control your behaviors.
  5. Command instead of ask you to do things.
  6. Bring up past hurts to harm you.
  7. Verbalize forgiveness but bring up past issues to prove a point.
  8. Use threats, physical force, anger, fear, or intimidation to get their way.
  9. Practice conditional love.
  10. Display favoritism by comparing siblings.
  11. Incorporate harsh judgments in their communications, in order to produce feelings of shame.
  12. Misuse scriptures to get their way.
  13. Resort to screaming, yelling, and name-calling in any context.

If you or a loved one is struggling from emotional abuse, especially if there are signs of having an eating disorder, you may benefit from consulting an eating disorder specialist. Our team of eating disorder professionals at The Center • A Place of HOPE focus on whole-person recovery, and take special care to understand the many aspects in a person’s life that may be contributing to their eating disorder, including the possibility of emotional abuse. Fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to get more information or to speak with an eating disorder specialist today.