Healing from Emotional Abuse


I recently read an article about what creates abusive behavior and how, as a victim, you can let go of your anger. The premise of the self-reflective piece was how to move forward after being emotionally abused. While we all wish there was a fix, per se, for recovering from emotional abuse, there is not. And simplifying this process can cause even more damage to the psyche of a domestic abuse survivor.

As a child you may have heard the old adage, “Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Words Will Never Hurt You,” by Tracy Lawrence. Now, as adults, we know this is something we were told to protect ourselves from schoolyard bullies. It’s a fairytale; a wish upon a star; a salve.

Emotional abuse can affect you for a lifetime, no matter how many therapy sessions, retreats, or self-help books you read. When you are told, over and over, you are stupid, worthless, and/or ugly, you begin to believe it. The physical equivalent would be a pimple, small and red, which becomes a scab you pick at, and eventually a scar.



Just as a scar cannot be removed without expensive medical work, emotional abuse cannot diminish without treatment. You may heal through talk therapy or group therapy. Or, you may need intensive treatment. The biggest hurdle is overcoming what you now believe about yourself: you are stupid, worthless, and/or ugly. Hundreds of well-meaning people can tell you different, but the person you loved, the person you trusted, your soul mate, burned those beliefs into your brain.

There is not one way to heal, just as there is not one way to feel. We are the owners of our body, our brain, our soul. No one can make you seek help. No one can tell you to think differently. But maybe you can trust someone enough to let them take your hand and hold it gently.

At Harbor House of Central Florida, we take the tenant of healing seriously. The minute we take your hand we can begin to work alongside of you to develop a personalized plan which fits you and your distinct needs. Nothing is forced upon you. No one makes you change your ideals or your beliefs.

If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, it is not your fault. You have somewhere to turn. Your healing process is important to us. Please reach out your hand and allow us to walk beside you.

Authored by Lynn Penyak
Community Education & Training Coordinator
Harbor House of Central Florida