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Male and female abusers tend to have high rates of personality disorders including borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder. The first step for those being emotionally abused is recognizing it’s happening.

You simply can’t allow it to continue, even if it means ending the relationship.

A licensed counselor who is trained in abusive relationships can help you navigate the pain and fears of leaving the relationship and work with you to rebuild your self-esteem. It is possible if the abuser deeply desires to change and recognizes his or her abusive patterns and the damage caused by them.

However, the learned behaviors and feelings of entitlement and privilege are very difficult to change.

Nothing is more damaging to your confidence and self-esteem than being in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Unlike physical abuse which rears its ugly head in dramatic outbursts, emotional abuse can be more insidious and elusive.

In some cases, neither the abuser nor the victim are fully aware it’s happening.

The most obvious scenario for emotional abuse is in an intimate relationship in which a man is the abuser and the woman is the victim.

However, a variety of studies show that men and women abuse each other at equal rates.* In fact, emotional abuse can occur in any relationship — between parent and child, in friendships, and with relatives. It involves a regular pattern of verbal offense, threatening, bullying, and constant criticism, as well as more subtle tactics like intimidation, shaming and manipulation.

Emotional abuse is used to control and subjugate the other person, and quite often it occurs because the abuser has childhood wounds and insecurities they haven’t dealt with — perhaps as a result of being abused themselves.

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