Can Emotional Abuse Cause Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD)?

When most people think of PTSD, they imagine someone who has gone through a natural disaster, a war, or physical or sexual violence. Very few people understand or are aware of how severe the effects of emotional abuse are.

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Emotional abuse is systematic, intentional, and repetitive controlling of a person, using the victim’s own emotions to shame, belittle, isolate, change their understanding of reality, and wear down their defenses.

The effects of emotional abuse can be far-reaching. Emotional abuse can lead to a host of chronic health problems, poor social skills, lack of social support, financial problems, depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, concentration and memory problems, and sensory issues.

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When a person’s emotions are continually used against them to harm them, it can cause severe and complex trauma symptoms for the victim. Some of the symptoms of CPTSD in victims of emotional abuse include:

-hyperarousal of emotions

-hypoarousal of emotions

-feelings of numbness



-poor sense of self-worth

-avoidance of triggers that remind victims of their abuse or abuser

-panic attacks

-physical symptoms related to reliving the trauma

-believing the world is a dangerous place

-overwhelming crying spells

-inability to register sensory input


-extreme fatigue

If you have suffered from emotional abuse, the best way to overcome it is to get help from a trusted, emotionally mature person. Seek out a counselor trained in treating the effects of CPTSD and emotional abuse so you can start to heal and grow stronger, becoming the person you were meant to be.

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