Emotionally abusive parent

“Emotional abuse is often used interchangeably with the term psychological abuse,” Carolyn Cole, LCPC, LMFT, NCC, tells Bustle. “Although the term ‘abuse’ often makes one think of physical abuse, emotional abuse is abusing someone in ways that can be seen as traumatic.” Cole says this may include gaslighting, bullying, and/or being condescending. “It is making someone feel like they are less-than, worthless, or not good enough. This can be incredibly painful when a parent does this to a child, as a child trusts that a parent is going to love them unconditionally.”

Cole adds that if you had an emotionally abusive parent, it could have an impact on your interpersonal and romantic relationships. “Attachment styles in relationships as an adult are often based on experiences someone has while growing up,” she says. “As a therapist, I often will explore the relationship a person had with their parents to understand where this way of relating to others or a romantic partner might stem from if I’m picking up on a particular attachment style.”


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