Home » Ask the Therapist » How Do I Live with Emotional Abuse?

How Do I Live with Emotional Abuse?

Asked by on with 1 answer:

current_problem: From a teen in Indonesia: i get an overwhelming feeling of sadness and hopelessness from time to time. i had a severe case of this several years ago, which i thought i moved on from. I thought i had taught myself to get through things like this.

I’m in a house that feels like a prison. i used to be physically abused, but they (parents) stopped, apologized and turned into emotional abuse. sometimes they still threatened to hit me if “that’s what it takes”. in any circumstance, i cannot leave the house. I’m not financially capable of going to college somewhere else. i just needed to be away from them, but in no way i can’t.

they are overbearing and don’t let me hang out much. i can rationalize myself and try to shield the negativity, but its breaking down really quick over the years. everything disgusts me, if they call my name of touch me.

i don’t talk to anybody else about this. sometimes people disgust me too. not always, but sometimes there is a moment where i am disgusted. i have friends, can be sociable and fun when i have better days, but i generally dont like anybody nor do i feel like anybody likes me. sometimes i feel an overwhelming sadness that i distract myself with my hurting myself, not too bad but enough so I’d be distracted. sometimes when im sad and i hear laughter outside of my room, my parents and my sister, i just feel a mix of unpleasant emotions i cant describe. ive tried a lot of things. ive thought myself to breathe, search for a distraction, talk to myself or write what i feel. but sometimes i just can’t. i dont get exactly what is wrong with me. i just feel like i need something to get by. how do i get by in a household like this on my own?

How Do I Live with Emotional Abuse?

Answered by on -


From what you report, I’m not at all sure the problem is where you are living. The fact that you don’t like anyone and feel that others don’t like you suggests that the problem is as much inside you. It sounds like the years of abuse may have resulted in an internalized negative self-esteem and maybe depression.

Blaming your parents at this point may make you feel better, but it won’t make things better for you. Blaming others for being disgusting may be a projection of your feelings about yourself. Meditation or breathing may help relieve the immediate distress, but they don’t get down to the root issues.

If possible, I think you would benefit from seeing a counselor for awhile. I think you may need to work through the enduring effects of the early abuse. You need to develop the positive self-esteem necessary to feel generally good about yourself and to feel worthy of social relationships.

Look into whether your college has counselors available. If not, there may be counselors in your community or online whose fees are affordable. Lacking any of those options, do purchase a workbook or two on self-esteem and discipline yourself to do the suggested activities. You might also benefit from participating in one of the online forums here on Psych Central. People with similar problems offer each other support and advice.

Meanwhile: Limit your interactions with your family. You don’t need to fight about it. Fighting will only make you feel worse. At 18, it is only appropriate and normal for you to be spending less time with family and more time developing your own life.

Take better care of yourself and your relationships outside the house. Just do your assignments in the library or an empty classroom. See friends for breakfast or lunch or between classes. Consider getting an evening part-time job if you can. That would keep you out of the house and would also give you money to save for an eventual place of your own.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Do I Live with Emotional Abuse?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). How Do I Live with Emotional Abuse?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Jun 2020 (Originally: 7 Jun 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 5 Jun 2020
Published on Psych All rights reserved.