Do You Know Anyone Emotionally Abused?

Dianna was an only child in the Middle East. From a young age she didn’t like how her dad treated her mom. Dianna would make comments about how her father treated her mother, and the father soon became irritated with Dianna and started to insult her. He would yell at her, accusing her of everything, such as not being good enough in school, not adoring him enough, and not treating him right. This would make Dianna feel awful about herself. A few days later her father would be the nicest person on earth and spoil her.

After reading Patricia Evan’s book The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and to Respond, Dianna’s mother realized that Dianna and she were victims of verbal abuse. Evans points out that the objective of verbal abuse is to take out your victim by diminishing her, ‘thingifying’ her, and threatening her. Many victims of emotional abuse don’t even know that it’s happening. Before Dianna read Patricia Evan’s books, she didn’t have a name for her father’s actions, but she now was able to explain her unhappiness and suicidal thoughts. However, Dianna was not ready to leave her friends, relatives, and home, and she wanted to finish college in her home country.

The abuse would come in a cycle which starts with tension with the victim hoping to calm down the abuser, then outbursts when the abuser may become violent, and the third phase is when the abuser feels guilty and showers the victims with gifts which is a calm phase but soon the cycle begins again.

When Dianna went to college, her father would call constantly and obsessively watch when she was on the internet. Dianna had been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and her father’s verbal abuse made it harder to focus. As a result, Dianna was struggling in school. By Dianna’s Junior year in college, Dianna’s mother decided to leave with Dianna out of the country. Dianna and her mother decided to go to the United States when Dianna’s mother’s parents were taking a trip to the United States to visit family. When Dianna and her mother were packing at home, it was a very nerve-wracking time because they didn’t want Dianna’s father to notice.

Dianna tried to continue her college education in the US, but she couldn’t focus and had to drop out. When Dianna had memories of her father, she would fall to the floor and lay frozen. This reaction was related to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) response. Also, Dianna mentions that she had trouble remembering things. Dianna’s father continued to contact her even when they were in the US, and this just made her symptoms worse. However, with therapy Dianna made many gains, such as not collapsing or dissociating for a few months. She also started to sleep better, get out of the house more, and make new friends.

Dianna’s case is an example where it was difficult at first to realize that any harm was being done. The father kept the abuse hidden from anyone other than the mother and Dianna, so no one would suspect that the father was emotionally abusive. It took some research to realize that the father was a verbal and emotional abuser, when Dianna’s mother read Patricia Evan’s book. But of course, it is difficult to deal with an abuser even when you do realize that something is wrong. Dianna and her mother had to leave the country, and the father still continued to harass Dianna and cause damage even when they changed phone numbers and e-mail addresses constantly. However, with therapy Dianna’s PTSD symptoms were decreased so that way she could be on her way to living a normal life.

 

Reference

Babbel, Susanne. “Escape From an Emotionally and Verbally Abusive Father.” PsychologyToday.com. N.p., 26 May 2012. Web. 09 Jan. 2013. <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/somatic-psychology/201205/escape-emotionally-and-verbally-abusive-father>.

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