A spouse who is in an emotionally abusive marriage in Pennsylvania may not realize he or she is a victim for a long time because the signs can be subtle, especially in the beginning. Those who do recognize the signs need to seek help to begin to recover and either heal the relationship or get out of it.
PsychCentral discusses what many people do not understand, and this is that emotional abuse can be more damaging than physical abuse because it can psychologically change the victim for a long time. The abuser often has unresolved issues from the past and is using them to damage someone else. Signs of this type of abuse often include controlling behavior, isolating the victim from others, humiliating and embarrassing the victim, using hurtful jokes or sarcasm to poke fun of the victim and criticism.
The HealthyPlace points out that this controlling behavior often starts small and builds up over time, and this can leave the victim feeling powerless and hopeless. Even though a victim may realize it is happening, he or she may choose to stay in the marriage due to low self-esteem, kids or finances. It may take something more severe, such as a negative impact on work or friends begin to show concern, for one to seek help.
Oftentimes a divorce is the only way to break the pattern of abuse, but it may take the assistance of others such as psychiatrists, faith leaders, peers or help lines. Additional legal help may be necessary if there is a threat of violence involved.
Once the victim is free of the abuser, true recovery can begin. This can take time, as the wounds are typically deep, but oftentimes counseling and behavioral therapy are very effective.