The American epidemic of emotional abuse

Emotional abuse does not discriminate based on age, gender, socio-economic status, education, religion or creed.

(Robin MacMillan, Flicker, with permission)

SAN DIEGO.  August 23, 2016 – Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%), according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Emotional abuse does not discriminate based on age, gender, socio-economic status, education, religion or creed.

It is prevalent in homes across America whether they are occupied by persons who are homosexuals, heterosexuals, childless or who have children, married, living together or merely dating.

According to the Eve Foundation, emotional abuse undermines an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem.  It includes but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling,or damaging other personal relationships.

What may not be known is that emotional abuse may in fact be more dangerous than physical abuse due to its insidious nature.

It might occur frequently and over time, and may not be identified as emotional abuse by the victim.

What is dangerous about emotional abuse is that the victim may become clever adapting to the environment somehow believing they are to blame for the inappropriate behavior of someone else.

(Child Abuse PSA)
(Child Abuse PSA)

Emotional abuse, over long periods of time, is harmful and destructive, which may create internal stress of such magnitude that it leads to distress, emotional pain, physical illness and in the extreme death.

In Out of the Fog, published in Top 100 Traits ofPeople who Suffer from Personality Disorders, emotional abuse is described as any pattern of behavior directed at one individual by another which promotes in them a destructive sense of Fear, Obligation or Guilt (FOG). Here are some of the behaviors they suggest which are indicative of an emotional abuser:

-Ridicule or insult

-Withhold approval, appreciation or affection

-Use the silent treatment as a form of punishment

-Ignore direct questions

–Walk away without answering questions

-Criticize, name call and/or yell

-Humiliate in private or in public

-Put down beliefs, religion, race or heritage

-Mimic behavior

-Disrespect or insult

-Twist words as a method of turning them against the victim

-Incite the victim into rage

-Appears energize by arguing

-Have unpredictable mood swings between good and bad

-Complain how badly they are treated

When emotional abuse becomes evident,it is best to walk away from the abuser.

It is impossible to reason with abusive behavior.

Leave the environment if the emotional abuse feels threatening.

Call for help from a trusted family member, friends or community resource or 911 if there is a sense of physical harm.

In a Case Western Reserve University research study, Emotional abuse in intimate relationships:  The role of gender and age, published in HHS Public Access, It was concluded that the effects of emotional abuse are
just as detrimental as the effects of physical abuse, even though the law recognizes physical and sexual violence as crimes.

If there is any concern that there might be emotional abuse at home, has published an excellent online self-assessment tool, The Emotional Abuse Test. It will take the reader through 40 self-assessment questions requiring a simple yes or no.  Then a scoring tool which is simple yet quite revealing helpful in personal evaluation.

If there is any reason to suspect that anyone in the home environment is victimized by an emotional abuser, it is highly recommended to seek immediate assistance from a qualified mental health professional.

The following resources, published in by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, suggests the following helpful publications and websites:

-Am I Being Abused? A helpful checklist.

-Domestic Violence and Abuse: Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships.

-Emotional Abuse.  Learn about patterns of emotional abuse and how to
recognize them.

-Power and Control Wheel.  All forms of abuse are described, including
physical, verbal, sexual and violent.

Living in an emotional abusive environment is a serious health hazard-both
physical and mental.

It is common for the victim to accept the blame for the abuser’s behavior.

Once patterns of emotional abuse can be recognized, it is the first step
towards seeking the help that is needed to reach acceptance and give
permission to grow beyond the pain and into the light of a new way of

Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!

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Laurie Edwards-Tate
Laurie Edwards-Tate, MS, President and Founder of At Your Home Familycare in San Diego, California, was among the first to recognize the growing need for services allowing individuals to remain independent created by the aging of America including the Baby Boomer generation, now being called the “Silver Tsunami.” It is the Baby Boomers who are rapidly redefining what aging and growing older means and looks like in America today. Now celebrating its 28th year in business, AYHF is among San Diego County’s Top Women-Owned Businesses and Fastest Growing Businesses, and enjoys a reputation for upholding the highest possible standards among its employees and its emphasis on customer service. Edwards-Tate is a valued contributor to the public dialogue on current issues and challenges in the home care industry, and serves in leadership roles on the Home Care Aide Association of America Advisory Board and Private Duty Home Care Association Advisory Board, as well as the Home Care Aide Steering Committee of the California Association for Health Services at Home. Edwards-Tate is frequently interviewed in the media on healthy aging, caregiving, and health care topics. Follow Laurie and AYHF at; on Facebook at, and Twitter at @AYHFamilycare