Emotional abuse is often the hardest type of abuse to recognize and overcome because its scars aren't visible to the naked eye. Unlike physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse doesn't leave behind scars or other physical evidence. The long-term effects of this type of abuse in a relationship can be long-lasting and devastating and can even affect the abused person for the rest of his or her life, especially if the abuse is never addressed with a health professional.
According to the May 2005 edition of the "Journal of Emotional Abuse," one of the most common and frequent psychological effects of emotional abuse is damaged self-confidence and self-worth. Abusers frequently focus in on areas where the abused person already has self-esteem issues such as physical appearance, weight, intelligence, and so forth. This only perpetuates the abused person's issues with self-confidence.
According to the same study, another psychological effect of emotional abuse is the inability to trust people close to you. When a relationship enters a stage of emotional abuse, the abused person naturally loses trust in the abuser. These issues of trust can spill over into other relationships, even close ones. The abused person often feels that if someone that close can break her trust, she is not safe with anyone.
One of the findings from the study published in the "Journal of Emotional Abuse" is that although children often hang onto the experiences and effects of emotional abuse in their childhood, adults who are emotionally abused often go into a state of denial--both about the circumstances surrounding their abuse and the effects the abuse has had on their self-esteem and other psychological factors. Many people may deny that abuse is even possible when it is not physical in nature.
According to the study, this is perhaps part of why many women choose to stay in emotionally abusive relationships. They are in denial of how bad the problem really is and what effect it is having on their lives.
Stress and Physical Effects
According to the University of Michigan, psychological effects aren't the only ones felt by the victims of emotional abuse. Dealing with emotional abuse over a long time can cause extreme stress, which can often manifest itself with headaches, back pain, neck pain and even pain in the extremities.