Victims of emotional abuse from relationships may be unaware of future damage

Officials say some individuals in an emotionally abusive relationship may not realize what’s happening.

The text messages and phone calls start.

“Where are you?”

“Who are you with?”

“You’re so useless. You never respond to anything I say.”

And this is only the beginning.

Relationships with controlling people go on for far too long and people endure far too many text messages and conversations like this one, experts said.

Abuse doesn’t always have to be physical; it can be more than that, officials said.  

Emotional abuse. It happens in relationships, and you might not even be aware of it, said Jennifer Berry, a licensed professional counselor at UNA.

Berry said emotional abuse could be a product of verbal or mental abuse that nobody else sees.

“Anything that affects your feelings or makes you feel guilt or shame can be emotional abuse,” Berry said.

Berry said one indicator of an unhealthy relationship is whether or not a partner feels comfortable talking to the other person.

“If you’re emotionally abused, you’re not going to feel comfortable talking openly or honestly,” Berry said. “You’ll feel ashamed or fearful before you say anything.”

Emily Kelley, director of the Women’s Center, said that she endured an abusive relationship for over a year before she could even admit she was being emotionally abused.

“It was a horror story,” Kelley said. “He was constantly making me choose between him and friends, and he slowly cut me off from everyone in my life.”

Kelley said drawing a line in the relationship is different for all people.

“Everyone is different in terms of what they accept and put up with,” Kelley said. “Some hang on for a lifetime. Unfortunately, for a lot of individuals, they don’t realize what they’ve been through until they’re battered, figuratively or literally.”

Berry said there is no excuse for someone who makes you feel uncomfortable in any type of relationship.

“Shame isn’t healthy or warranted in a relationship of any kind,” Berry said.

Kelley said it takes time to move past unhealthy relationships and deal with the effects.

“The bruises that nobody sees are sometimes the worst ones,” Kelley said.

Berry and Kelley both encourage people who feel like they’re in unhealthy relationships to find someone they can talk to.

Counseling Services, located at 555 Oakview Circle, offers a safe place for individuals to talk to someone about what they’re facing and seek help.

“They’re always welcome to come by our office,” Berry said. “Anything they say will be kept confidential and we can offer support.”

For more information about UNA’s Counseling Services, call 256-765-5192 or email [email protected] to make an appointment.