If you are in a relationship with someone who has been emotionally and verbally abused, her past experience may be casting a dark shadow over the present. Emotional and verbal abuse is a way to exert control and power over someone else. Abusers may yell, taunt, call names and threaten their victim. They can also use controlling tactics such as limiting contact with others, reading texts and emails, stalking and withholding emotion. Emotional and verbal abuse is far too common. Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced this kind of abuse from an intimate partner sometime in their life, according to the 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, "National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey." Even if your partner is still dealing with the effects of abuse, there are ways to provide support as she heals and moves forward.
Give Him Time
Even though verbal and emotional abuse doesn't leave physical damage, victims may have deep internal wounds that need time to heal. The healing process is different for everyone, and trying to rush the process may backfire. Many victims of verbal and emotional abuse have spent so much time trying to fit a mold made by their abuser that they lose their sense of self, according to the Psychology Today article, "Emotional Abuse: Recovering the Core Self." You can help your partner by giving him some space and taking things slow.
Help Her Reconnect
A common tactic of abusers is to isolate their partner from friends and family. Encourage her to rebuild her relationships with others and strengthen her support system. Participating in a support group for victims of abuse or talking to a counselor may help her work through her feelings. Be patient if she has a hard time trusting you. Remember she may need extra reassurance that you truly care about her.
Give Him a Voice
Abusers control their victims and call all the shots in the relationship. It may feel very different and even uncomfortable for your partner to be in a healthy relationship. The website for the National Domestic Violence Hotline says the two main components for a healthy relationship are communication and boundaries. Let him know that you value his opinion. Give him the opportunity to share his input when making decisions as a couple.
Restore Her Self-Esteem
The verbal and emotional abuse your partner went through probably did a lot of damage to her self-esteem. You can be a positive force in her life by pointing out all of her good qualities and praising her for her accomplishments. At first, it may be difficult for her to believe good things about herself and accept your comments. The longer you continue the positive feedback, the more likely your words will drown out the negative words from her abuser.
Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.