The term violence has always been related to the set of situations and actions where physical attacks are involved, however this word to designate more broadly is a set of actions that also mainly have psychological and social consequences . In other words, it is currently possible to identify different types of violence , each of which has both similarities as well as its own characteristics. 

Generalizing violence is a concept that describes those social relationships where it was put into conflict, which generates this behavior. One of the most common typologies but which is also less talked about is psychological violence, it could be said that it is one of the most destructive due to its serious effects on the victims in the long term.

What is psychological violence?

Psychological violence is defined as one of the types of violence that involves the use of resources such as threats and harassment to achieve psychological harm . A series of practices is voluntarily inflicted that allow the victim to create a mental state characterized by anguish, anxiety, fear and rejection.

Like these types of violence, the objective is to cause permanent damage to one or more people . It is not exempt from sharing a leading role together with physical and verbal violence , this is because they share extra similarities, in turn, they can be identified in the same case. In other words, to cause psychological damage it may be necessary to resort to the use of resources from other types of violence such as insults and physical abuse.

Psychological aggressions can derive from damage or physical selection carried out in a premeditated way. Psychological traumas can have their origin in events caused by a violent situation with a high degree of impact on the victim . The attackers identify which themes, situations or physical elements can generate tension or rejection in their victims, in this way they begin to use these resources to achieve the perpetration of violence.

What are their characteristics? 

Psychological violence can also be known as emotional abuse or mental abuse. It is mainly characterized by verbal attacks where weaknesses or sensitive issues are mentioned for the victims. But it also makes use of the use of physical elements that are used as part of the attacks, for this reason, together they are able to create tense situations that eventually help to create the development of trauma in the victims .

Some of the most common characteristics that can be identified in most of the recorded cases of this type are described below. In addition, it is important to mention that given the particularity of the events, it is possible that there are also elements typical of other types of violence . The following are the most salient factors:

  • The attacker makes comments or statements about facts or actions that do not really belong to the victim. That is, rumors and lies can be spread that help create conflicts and damage the reputation of the victim on a social level.
  • It is usually a type of violence that occurs within the family and home . However, in recent years it has been found that it has become other elements that are integrated into cases of bullying.
  • Is a behavior that is intended to cause emotional and mental harm, for it is necessary to implement actions to achieve undermine the mood and the self – esteem of the victim .
  • It is a type of violence that does not usually cause damage to the body or physical property for personal use of the victims, however they are not elements that can necessarily be the exception. Attackers may need to create this physical data to make you feel pain and distress in other ways.
  • The attacks are characterized by being very personal, this means that tactics and resources are used that make the victims feel bad about themselves. It is even possible to make them feel guilty and responsible for the events.
  • It can be accompanied by situations where he publicly humiliates himself in front of family and friends. It can also occur within the work and academic environment.
  • It can include their use of insults as well as offensive nicknames .
  • It will be accompanied by threats that also include family and friends, but in most cases they are personal.
  • The mistreatment cause vulnerability on victims because they begin to feel ashamed of who they are. That is to say, they are situations in which instability is generated at a mental level because you begin to have doubts about your own beliefs, motivations , abilities and certainties.
  • Attackers often make comments of a sexual , religious, racist , physical and mental nature, as well as the victim’s social position and financial resources.
  • It can include situations where the victim’s participation is ignored or belittled . It will try to create conflictive situations where these people feel that they are not capable of making important contributions.
  • Victims can suffer from lies and rumors , but it is also making them feel confused by moving objects around by making statements of events that have not occurred.

How is it identified?

In order to properly identify situations where psychological violence should be implicated, it is necessary to pay attention to the details regarding the behavior of those involved. Because it is a type of violence based on emotional abuse, victims begin to show clear signs of the development of their mental stability. It is important to analyze and pay attention to possible changes in behavior.

Family members and friends of victims manage to realize when they are interacting with people who constantly try to control them, isolate them or keep their victims in a constant state of tension and anguish . At first the attacks occur in such a way that they can go unnoticed by others, however eventually their intensity and their constancy make them easier to perceive publicly.

All the actions and words of the abusers remain persistent causing the victims to feel harassed . In the same way, it is important to limit most of the cases those who occupy the role of the harasser usually have a close and intimate relationship with the victims. It can be a family member, spouse, friend, or even a partner or co-worker.

It is also identified because victims always receive critical comments and are involved in situations where they are humiliated. Attackers employ various practices that are designed to undermine self-esteem. They can also be manipulated, it is even possible to practice practices where reality is distorted , thought is influenced and consequently it is possible to confuse.

How does it stop?

To stop the continuity of violent attacks, it is necessary to establish limits regarding the interaction between the victim and the harasser. People who are mentally and emotionally abusing gas often do not trust telling what is happening to them because they feel fear and even shame. For this reason, the support and also the protection of close and trusted people are always important .

In most cases, it is the people who belong to the victim’s social circle who first make an alert call once they have been able to identify some of the elements of psychological violence . Unfortunately only a small part of these cases will be made known by the victims themselves, these people often have difficulties in dealing with this situation and its attackers.

Victims usually do not provide details of the situation they are going through, however they can effectively communicate that they are suffering from abuse by calling for the necessary help. They usually do them after a long period of abuse, so it will be difficult and unlikely that they will succeed in breaking the bond and the pattern of behavior that has been happening between the victim and the bully on their own.

It is important to mention that the victims are never responsible for these events. They require psychological, medical and legal help to stop the continuation of the events. Setting personal boundaries is an important first step that will consequently allow you to limit your exposure to the abuser.

If the people involved maintain an emotional or close relationship for other reasons, they must have the help of people who are also related. In the same way, depending on the seriousness of the events, the participation of a mediator may be required to restrict communication .

Because the psychological consequences of this type of violence can be permanent, it is necessary for victims to seek the help of a therapist . In order to move forward and overcome this situation, the victims should not withdraw from friends and family, emotional contact with these individuals so that it is possible to recover in a healthy and more effective way.

In some cases one of the consequences may be the development of some type of trauma, the treatment for these cases may require the use of psychotherapies for a long period of time. It could be argued that some of the psychological consequences could last for many years before the victim regains self-esteem .

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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