How to Deal With Emotional Rape

Sad womanHave you ever been in a relationship with someone who was emotionally abusive?

If you have, then you know some of the signs: having your self-confidence slowly chipped away, the withholding of affection as a means of "punishment," the verbal assaults, and the silent treatments.

If not, it's probably safe to say that if you haven't been in a relationship like this, then you have known someone who has.

And maybe you've looked at them and thought, "Why would they want to be with someone who didn't treat them the way they deserved to be treated?" Because even though emotional abuse doesn't leave physical marks, it causes just as much damage.

I saw this happen to a friend of mine. And I just wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her and say, "Why can't you see what this relationship is doing to you?"


But I knew that doing so wouldn't help her or her situation.

I felt like I had two options. One, I could stay out of it and take the stance that my friend is a grown-up and her relationship with Mr. Not So Right was none of my business. Or I could give her my opinion of the situation and hope that she takes it in the right way, as a hand reaching out to help her and not as a judgment.

It turns out that the second option was the correct one.

The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, based in Palo Alto, California, provides some guidelines on how to help a friend who is in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Be sure to give the clear message that the abuse is not her fault and that she is not alone.
  • Listen without passing judgment. And make sure she knows that help is available when she wants it.
  • Make sure that she knows that your conversations are just between the two of you.
  • Don't confront her abuser.

I'm glad that I reached out to my friend. It turns out that just saying out loud some of the feelings she had been experiencing was enough to make her get out of the relationship. She was lucky.

What other advice would you give someone trying to help a friend who is being emotionally abused?


Image via Shandi-lee/Flickr

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