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Crazy Making Emotional Abuse, Domestic Violence & Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Updated on October 7, 2011

In This Hub:

  • Emotional, Mental & Psychological Abuse - Killing With Words

  • Signs of Domestic Violence & Emotional Abuse Tactics

  • Why Domestic Violence is Often Overlooked

  • Violence, Power & Control Wheel

  • Non-violence & Equality Wheel

  • Made Crazy or Suffering Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

  • Not Crazy, Just Brain Damaged!

  • Complex PTSD - It is an injury, not an illness!

  • Food For Thought

  • Links to related information and resources

Emotional, Mental & Psychological Abuse - Killing With Words

Emotional abuse can be just as harmful as other forms of abuse. In fact, it can even be fatal. Severe emotional, mental and/or psychological abuse has been compared to the psychological torture tactics used by various military interrogators on enemy prisoners of war.

The effects of prolonged emotional abuse can have devastating physiological effects on a victim, and will almost always have lasting ill effects on the victim's mind, due to the infliction of multiple psychiatric injuries. In extreme and/or prolonged cases of emotional, mental and psychological abuse, it can even induce suicide.

Crazy Making Stuff.... Literally!

Image: renjith krishnan /
Image: renjith krishnan /

Signs of Domestic Violence

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Social Abuse & Isolation
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Spiritual Abuse
  • Economic/Financial Abuse
  • Intimidation & Bullying
  • Coercion & Threats
  • Minimizing, Denying & Blaming

Violence, Power & Control

(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)
(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)

Emotional Abuse Tactics

  • Name Calling
  • Criticism & Put-downs
  • Yelling & Swearing
  • Insulting you, your friends/family
  • Lies and Manipulation
  • Mind-games
  • Mirroring/ Counter-accusations
  • Humiliation
  • Jealousy, Sulking
  • Emotional Blackmail
  • Using or threatening your kids

Non-violence & Equality

(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)
(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)

Not Crazy, Just Brain Damaged!

Complex PTSD - It is an injury, not an illness!

Long term exposure to repeated emotional and mental abuse can result in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes, the term "psychosis" is applied to mental illness, and the term "neurosis" to psychiatric injury. The main difference is that a psychotic person is unaware they have a mental problem, whereas the neurotic person is aware - often acutely.

Image Thanks To:
Image Thanks To:

Why Domestic Violence is Often Overlooked

In relationships where physical abuse is absent or minimal, many victims may think that they are not experiencing domestic violence. Unfortunately this is often not true.A lot of victims of domestic violence might never experience physical abuse, but they are not necessarily the lucky ones.

Emotional abuse can be just as harmful and even fatal. Severe emotional, mental and/or psychological abuse has been compared to the psychological torture tactics used in the interrogation of prisoners of war. In some cases, it can induce suicide.

I think that emotional abuse is the core issue in any form of abuse. Most victims would never tolerate from a stranger the abuse that they endure from a family member or significant other. That is the power of the perpetrator.

Personally, I have experienced emotional, physical, mental, sexual, financial and verbal abuse as well as social isolation, and I think that the emotional abuse is much worse than the physical violence. Blood and bruises are tangible things. They are there, you can see them. No-one can deny it. Other people can see them too, people who will support you and give you hope if you let them.

The emotional hold that the perpetrator has over their victim is invisible, both to them and everyone else, and it can be hard to wake up to it because it never happens straight away, they suck you in first and then slowly the mental manipulation creeps in and they change you.

Mental/emotional abuse is never obvious, and the injuries it inflicts can be invisible, both to the victims and to others, and can take much longer to heal than a few fractured bones. Indeed some bury so deep that they never do. Because it is so hard to recognize, emotional abuse is also very easy to deny. Words can be twisted and distorted to justify and excuse, and of course the things that are said to hurt and manipulate you are only said behind closed doors.

It can be hard to remember exactly what was said when your world feels like it is caving in, and the abuser will jump on this uncertainty to highlight your insanity and to once again shift the focus away from his own appalling behavior, which makes one feel unsure about what really happened, compounding one’s confusion and distress, and deterring one from objecting or trying to reason the next time it happens.

I'm sure you can see why many people who have experienced emotional abuse describe it as "crazy making stuff". It most certainly is!

Made Crazy or Suffering Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

In reality, the common description of emotional abuse as "crazy making" is actually quite appropriate. Long term exposure to repeated emotional and mental abuse can result in Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is, as the name suggests, a more complex form of PTSD.

Both disorders are experienced as a result of a psychiatric injury (in layman's terms a type of brain damage), but where PTSD is usually the result of one major psychiatric injury, and can usually be recovered from in a relatively short period of time with the right support, Complex PTSD, is the result of many psychiatric injuries, both minor and major, that are inflicted over a long period of time. The symptoms are also more complex, and so is the treatment, so the name is really quite suitable.

The sad thing about Complex PTSD is that recovery can take on average, 5 years, and can only begin once the victim is removed from the situation that caused it, and given the right support and treatment.

On the bright side, PTSD and Complex PTSD are psychiatric injuries and they can be recovered from. The symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, are not internal chemical imbalances, but reactive or situational disorders, and so people suffering from either disorder can make a FULL recovery in time. This is in contrast to other mental illnesses such as Personality Disorders and Bi-Polar Disorder, which are the result of internal chemical imbalances, and although treatable, will never actually go away.

Food For Thought

Domestic violence is reaching plague proportions in our community. It does not just involve physical violence, and people need to recognize this, especially the victims. In the end all we can really do is make people aware of it and try to educate them. Patience and persistence, as well as discretion pay off, but it still has to be their own realization that makes them decide to go (or stay). As a community, we can support, educate, and inspire, and most importantly, we can model the right way to behave.

Please join me on FaceBook

  • STOP the Violence Against Women & Children
    Organize to Resist! Together we can take on the Predators! Let's Break the Silence to End the Violence by working together to make our voices a Resounding SHOUT!!! Perpetrators BEWARE - you don't stand a chance!

Please Note:

All names in this article have been changed for legal purposes and to protect the privacy of the Author. Except where otherwise credited, or where text forms part of an external link, this article is under the following copyright:

Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last", of Perth, Western Australia. All rights reserved.

All persons, places and objects shown in the images in this hub are are shown for illustrative purposes only. They bear no relation to any real person or event. All persons shown are paid models. Unless otherwise credited, all images are under the following copyright:

Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    19 months ago

    The information contained in this article is spot on making it a great resource to share in the hopes of opening the eyes of others who may have not been in this type of situation and don't understand what it is that keeps you attached to somebody who could be so damaging to ones self. Thank you for not just using the terms PTSD and Complex PTSD, but also putting a well-worded exclamation to the terms PTSD and Complex PSTD.

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    23 months ago from Western Australia

    Would love to! Am I too late? I can't find anything xox

  • RamblingBack2Me profile image

    Daisy Jayne 

    23 months ago from Indiana

    #LoveNeverHurts as a newbie here, you spoke straight truth to my soul. If you have time, take a minute and read my first article. I'm sharing my journey from victim to survivor. The whole raw truth. And a smidge of sarcasm and rambling. Would love your thoughts

  • Ruby H Rose profile image

    Maree Michael Martin 

    7 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

    Very well said, more food for thought for me to check into. Thumbs up, shared, linked, joining the crusade, onto visit the fb page. It is hard to recognize when the trauma of it has been with you all of your life. Hope, never give up on it, my key to survival.

  • profile image

    Isaac J. Luzader-Hearn 

    8 years ago

    I had quite a bit of traumatic events happen as a young child. I was in a car crash in 2002 at 9 years old with a severe head injury (a bacillary skull fracture,complete right facial spiderweb fracture, and the bones in my inner right ear crushed). Then for the next nine years was screamed and yelled at by my father and stepmother because I didn't do a simple chore. Nine years on a day-to-day basis this went on, my father stuck a big-l;abel called "bi-polar" on me because at the age of 14 I started getting feed up and yelled back with many times to be threatened with words like; "I brought you into this life and I can sure as F*** take you/ out." Others like being called "F***ing useless, worthless, pitiful, and even gay." By my father and stepmother. I didn't find out till March 13, 2012 that I was not bi-polar from 4 different psychiatric doctors but instead I had a generalized anxiety disorder and depression. I checked out a book today about mental illnesses and read under trauma that there is a disease called PTSD which I fit key-for-key under perfectly. I then got online tonight and looked up mental abuse induced PTSD, and found this webpage. Well I plan on checking with my pyshactrist next week and telling her this could be a possibility because I fit the part of someone with PTSD. Thank you "safe-at-last" for this post, it was very informative and truly made me realize this PTSD is a big possibilty.

    ~Isaac "J." L.-Hearn

  • profile image

    Carol smith 

    8 years ago

    I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for 40 years, 3 before. We are separTed so now 45. I'm a professional, minister, counsellor with grad degrees which harmed, I believe. Because I eventually understood his personality disorders, I thought I could help or withstand. I waited so long that at @68, I have debilitated physical health. I've had therapy and PTSD therapy but I cannot stop reliving sadness and anger for my experiences but for the dream that failed. I still love the best of his personas. I've reduced xanex to @ nil but I find it hard to go on, now having fear of leaving house. Surely, time for med but what? I'm on Cymbalta for abdominal migraines from Cerebral AVM which may have made me worse. Any professional advice? My faith is strong but not enough.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    @ John I understand your frustration, however, according to the DSM IV-TR, Personality Disorders are long term (as in lifelong) changes in a clients personality. While these can be treated with DBT yes, they cannot be errased and they are the hardest to work with. If you ask any therapist, professor of psychology or professor in the human services field they will tell you the same. Please before you make a judgement call read all the materials. We have to be understanding of where people are coming from.

    I definitely appreciate this article as it has assisted me in finding information for papers that I am currently writing. As a survivor, my heart soars to hear stories of escape. As an advocate it makes me push harder in my postion and strive to eliminate domestic and all other violence.

    Always remember when we work together we always get more done than when we work against each other.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    The notion that personality disorders are stuck with you forever is a load of rubbish. Promising treatments such as DBT can do a world of good with a person who has BPD. Stop generalising personality disorders it was a good article until I read that crap.

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    The difference between a survivor and a victim is that the survivor can tell her story and help create more survivors. From one to another, kudos. Please visit my blog, if you like

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I grew up in a home that had gross domestic violence and I really thought I escaped unscathed... Until I ot married. Yuk.

  • smbunlimited profile image


    8 years ago from Washington

    Well put. I have a daughter who had assistance from the local women's shelter and it is such an excellent resource in our community! My ex husband was very emotionally abusive, and occasionally physically so as well, and I believe that he was (is) bi-polar and with his chemical dependency (abuse) issues, it made his life hell and he felt out of control and blamed and on and on--I was at a place in my life where I felt "stuck" (financially, etc.) but eventually braved anything and everything to get out of it! My kids suffered but have rebound since being away--no one deserves to be abused and tormented-we're all in this thing called life together, why can't we all just get along!!

  • Barbara Turpin profile image

    Barbara Turpin 

    9 years ago from N. California

    This hub was great...made me cry, and designated thru me.

    I can verify this information....I was "the" child that went thru this same ordeal, in my childhood "safe" place. Same story, different type of 'domestic'

    It takes YEARS to get past this. My brain KNOWS it was not my heart doesn't. I'm still envious when I see an adult child having a great relationship with a parent/s. I ache for that.

    I can't change the past, I wish I could change my heart. I raised TWO children, was over protective, and BROKE the cycle. I'm proud of who my kids are today.

    This was such a useful, informative hub, you wrote from your heart. Thank you.

    I hope someone that needs help read this and got strength from your information and story.

    Again, THANK YOU.

  • Aremelle profile image


    9 years ago from NorCal

    Oh my goodness, this hub/subject WOKE ME UP last November 2010. I bookmarked this page. In April '11, the xxxx hit the fan and I've since been through a world of hurt, i've even been arrested by the bugger, ALL because of a psychopathic partner who simply lost it when I spoke up to say. "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH, I'm leaving." Whoa Boy, that did it! He went bezerk. As if all I'd lived through for 30 YEARSSSSSSSSS BEFORE that day wasn't bad enough.

    He said something "cute" to me in the beginning, even continued to write it in bday cards etc: TILL THE WHEELS FALL OFF. Well that meant--YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE. THIS sentiment is crystal clear now.

    It's odd, I didn't think of my life there as abusive, I guess because indeed there were no bruises or broken bones; I suspected abuse in certain areas in recent years 5-7 but not the whole of the relationship until I found THIS HUB!!!I SWEAR IT. YOU SAVED ME!!! THIS OPENED MY EYES and got me to working on an escape.

    I'm still caught up in legal matters with that Lizard and will speak of them another time. What I need now is a PROFESSIONAL site that speaks to this type of abuse, as YOU have---so I can show it to my lawyer.

    I'll keep reading but please, if anyone knows what site I can access that will say the same things/explain this form of abuse, please let me know.

    Thank You for ALL OF THIS...I too am thrilled that You-are-safe-at-last!!

    Warm Regads, Aremelle in Calif. US

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I have been diagnosed with Complex P.T.S.D & it is a very difficult & distressing condition. I am in Australia & thankfully have good support at the moment but this hasn't always been the case. Society in general simply does not know what Complex P.T.S.D is.

    Friends, family, associates all stare at you blankly & it feels so isolating! Is there a support group anywhere in Australia or New Zealand???Please tell!!! Thanks, Rainbow

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Hey ppl i really need sum advice and help wot is z in al da above is wot iv bin goin thou 11yrs nw its tkn me ova 5yrs 2 realize and i reported it to my child skol,services and even were i worked (b4 i ended up gettin the sack n told iv got bipolar type 2) but no body believed me at all so me and my child r still goin thou the same abuse yet again if nobody wud believe me wen i reported my partner a few yrs ago they sure as hel nt guna help me or my daughter nw i feel so hopeless and that im failin to b a gud mother by nt protecting my daughter frm seeing wot her father is doin to me and i knw b4 long he wil strt tellin her shit again jst lik b4 she is 8 n dnt wnt her 2 end up lik me she already show signs that she got issues etc plz sum1 give me advice

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Don't ever retaliate or stand up for yourself. Not even lawyers or the justice system can help. They will tell you you are crazy.

  • writer83 profile image


    9 years ago from Cyber Space

    Great article - Thanks for taking the time to write this :_)

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Reading your hub really opened my mind. Now I know the cause of my long-term battle with depression. I didn't know that all this stuff (I've been verbally abused by my parents since 12) had a lasting effect. After leaving home (I jumped from the frying pan into the fire, so to speak), I immediately hooked up a with a guy I knew. I'd never been out in the world, and he seemed to be supportive. We got married a month later, and then the abuse started. Just verbal at first, then physical. I was so used to it from my parents, I just thought it was normal.

    Then I got a black eye, and other things started happening. A year ago he moved us to China, and I've been completely cut off from any kind of society. I'm not allowed to have a job or learn the language.

    I finally realized this is NOT normal, and now I need to get away. Unfortunately, I don't have the money. I'm trying to get some here and there online, but the thousand dollars for a plane ticket seems like a long ways off. Thanks for your encouraging hub.

  • profile image

    michelle ashby 

    9 years ago

    wow what an awesome Hub ,ive been domestic violence free a year now and when the Trials over will feel even more free,Im medicine free now,depression has gone and panick attacks,I have a clear mind and my daughters safe .There are to many laws to protect the Perpetrator and waiting 2 years for a rape trial is disgusting..

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Thnx for the articles I can relate to them all so very helpful to me.

  • profile image

    Leah Davis, Founder.Director Domestic Abuse Awareness Network / Child Abuse Awareness Network 

    9 years ago

    Love it!!!...Reposting on DAAN this morning!!!...Thank you!!!...

  • Momgramwriter profile image


    10 years ago

    Wow what an amazing article and domestic abuse sure is wide spread.How heartbreaking this has become.

  • profile image

    Penny C 

    10 years ago

    I am happy too that you made it through. I've been there and it was terrible. It hurts to see people that you love lose control like that but we are never in control in those situations. I have PTSD too from a few years of really bad child abuse. The hardest part was finally accepting my mother's part in it. I just didn't want to imagine her using me in that way.

    Than, because of religious brainwashing and an abnormal tolerance for abuse, I found it difficult to see just where the line really was? How much are we supposed to take from one person? I believe no God that is good would really condemn anyone to an abusive relationship. Neither, unfortunately, will any of them cure someone for you who cannot control their anger when suffering from addiction. It took me more than a few years to stop turning the other cheek and facing reality. Did I fail or did God fail? It just wasn't meant to be.

    Behavioral Therapy helped me a lot. So did our Domestic Violence Center. I recommend it for anyone who finds their flashbacks are interfering in their everyday life.

    It takes time for people with PTSD to train our minds to respond better to these abnormal responses to situations. It takes retraining your mind and body in a safe environment in a more efficient way. I still get upset when I see abusive scenes or some of the other things that trigger my memories but now I have learned behaviors to help stay in the moment instead of getting caught up reliving the night/daymares as intensely.

    I hope you too are doing all right. Luckily, the whole world isn't completely screwed up and I hope you meet enough of the sane ones to keep your spirits positive as much as you can.

    Take care. I get more hope whenever I find someone who survived a nightmare with their sanity. Even if it is only by a thread. We get through.

  • profile image

    Brempong Francis (worm) 

    10 years ago

    Thumbs up! u guyz are pursuing a fantastic course to save humanities 4rm tortures & stress 4rm domestic,income and cultural gps.keep updating us.

  • Chaotic Chica profile image

    Chaotic Chica 

    10 years ago

    BRAVO!! Fantastic hub!! Very good hub-great job!

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    Thanks Alicia!

  • profile image

    Alicia Appleby 

    10 years ago

    So true Mel.

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    My pleasure Dorsi. Thanks for the feedback. I hope it helps someone somewhere....

  • Dorsi profile image

    Dorsi Diaz 

    10 years ago from The San Francisco Bay Area

    Thank you for writing about this. I never stopped to think about how mental abuse would cause brain trauma but it makes sense. One can only take so much, and the brain can only process so much too.

    Thanks for the hub.

  • OntariFamilyLawCa profile image


    10 years ago from No America

    Good stuff. I feel lucky that the US has come a long way in dealing wit this. Our neighbor to the north has a way to go.

    This is an org in Canada that you can apply for grants to help other woman and girls get out and stay out. fight the good fight!!

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    Thank you marieryan. I hope many others out there will soon be safe at last too!

  • marieryan profile image

    Marie Ryan 

    10 years ago from Andalusia, Spain

    I am so pleased you are "safe-at-last".

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    Thank you. I believe that, as a community, all we can do is support, educate, inspire, and most importantly, we can model the right way to behave.

  • thevoice profile image


    10 years ago from carthage ill

    excellent great hub on abuse I lived years in street life watching this go on great hub thanks much


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