Emotional abuse can be a devastating and insidious form of mistreatment. Unlike physical abuse, it leaves no visible scars, but the emotional wounds can run deep. If you’ve been in an emotionally abusive relationship, you might be feeling lost, confused, and unsure how to move forward.  

The good news is, healing is possible.  

With self-compassion, support, and the right tools, you can recover from emotional abuse  and build a healthier, happier life.

What are the Coping Mechanisms for Emotional Abuse?

While you were in the abusive relationship, you likely developed certain coping mechanisms to survive the emotional strain. Here are some common coping mechanisms for emotional abuse:

  • Isolation: The abuser might have discouraged you from seeing friends and family. This isolation can become a coping mechanism, a way to avoid further conflict or manipulation.
  • People Pleasing: Trying to anticipate the abuser’s needs and walking on eggshells to avoid their outbursts can become a way to cope with the unpredictable environment.
  • Minimizing or Denying: Downplaying the severity of the abuse or convincing yourself “it’s not that bad” can be a way to protect yourself from the painful reality.
  • Substance Abuse or other Numbing Activities: Turning to alcohol, drugs, or other substances can be a way to numb the emotional pain. Perhaps you are overeating, restricting or overspending as a way to numb.

These coping mechanisms might have served a purpose in the short term, but they can hinder your healing in the long run. As you move forward, it’s important to develop healthier coping mechanisms  for emotional abuse.

What are the Six Stages of Emotional Abuse?

Healing from emotional abuse  is a journey, not a destination. There’s no set timeline, and everyone heals at their own pace.  

Here’s a breakdown of the stages of healing,  keeping in mind these are not linear and there may be overlaps:

  1. Disbelief and Shock: Coming to terms with the reality of the abuse can be a difficult first step. You might experience denial, shock, or confusion.
  2. Shame and Guilt: The abuser might have convinced you that the abuse was your fault.  It’s important to remember that the abuse is never your fault.
  3. Anger and Frustration: As you process the abuse, anger towards the abuser and yourself is a normal reaction. Allow yourself to feel this anger, but channel it productively.
  4. Bargaining: You might find yourself bargaining with yourself or even the abuser, hoping things will change. Remember, a true abuser is unlikely to change their behavior.
  5. Depression and Loneliness: Feeling isolated, hopeless, and depressed are common symptoms as you grapple with the emotional fallout of the abuse.
  6. Acceptance: This doesn’t mean condoning the abuse, but rather accepting what happened and moving forward.
  7. Finding Your Voice: As you heal, you begin to reclaim your voice and sense of self. You start to trust your own judgment and intuition again.
  8. Building Healthy Relationships: You learn to identify healthy relationships and surround yourself with supportive people.
  9. Moving On: Healing doesn’t mean forgetting, but it means the abuse no longer defines you. You can build a fulfilling life and find happiness again.

This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be additional stages specific to your experience. The key is to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel all the emotions that arise during the healing process.

Additional Tips for Healing from Emotional Abuse

Here are some additional tips to support your recovery from emotional abuse:

  • Seek professional help: A therapist can provide a safe space to process your experiences and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Build a support system: Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or a support group for survivors of emotional abuse.
  • Practice self-care: Prioritize your physical and emotional well-being. Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and spirit.
  • Set boundaries: Learn to identify and set healthy boundaries in your relationships.
  • Educate yourself: Learn more about emotional abuse to understand the dynamics and empower yourself.
  • Celebrate your progress: Healing is a journey, and there will be setbacks. Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small.


Healing from emotional abuse is a courageous act of self-love. It takes time, strength, and a willingness to confront difficult emotions. But remember, you are not alone on this journey. 

There are people who care about you and want to support your healing. By reaching out for help, prioritizing self-care, and developing healthy coping mechanisms, you can overcome the impact of emotional abuse.

As you move forward, focus on building a life that reflects your values and brings you joy. Reconnect with old friends, explore new hobbies, and pursue your passions.  Trust yourself, your intuition, and your inner strength. 

You are worthy of love, respect, and a life free from abuse.

The scars of emotional abuse may never fully fade, but they don’t have to define you. With perseverance and self-compassion, you can transform your experience into a source of strength. 

You can emerge from this journey feeling empowered, resilient, and ready to embrace a brighter future. Remember, healing is possible.

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