THE problem with emotional abuse, often referred to as mental or psychological abuse, is that it is one of the most difficult forms of abuse to identify, says clinical psychologist Dr Graham Lindegger.“Though both, physical and emotional abuse are damaging and unacceptable, the main problem with emotional abuse is that there may be no apparent evidence that it is occurring,” Lindegger told the Maritzburg Fever.Lindegger defined emotional abuse as any relationship in which the other is consistently denigrated by words and actions such as name-calling, attacks, emotional manipulation, and belittling. However, he also warned that the abuse is sometimes more subtle.Having dealt with emotionally abused patients often, Lindegger stated that in most cases victims were aware that they were being abused but often felt they deserved it. “People at the receiving end are usually aware of their emotional abuse, but may think that they deserve it, cause it, or are not worthy of better treatment,” stated Lindegger.According to the psychologist, the symptoms of emotional abuse varies greatly according to the individual, but most cases show depressive like-symptoms. When looking at reasons as to why people emotionally abuse others, Lindegger said that there are many reasons, including gender distortions whereby men abuse women because they see them as inferior.“It could be a way of dealing with personal inadequacy as well whereby you humiliate the other person to make yourself feel better, which becomes exacerbated by substance abuse,” said Lindegger. In most cases those inflicting the emotional abuse on others remain not unaware but in denial of the fact that they are inflicting abuse on others. It usually requires a lot of effort on the abuser’s behalf to get them to acknowledge their actions. Lindegger added that getting the abuser to acknowledge their abuse is the first step for those being abused to get out of the situation they are faced with. “Get them to face and acknowledge the abuse, challenging any tendency to accept or justify. Empower the person to make serious ultimatums, for example, ‘I will leave you if the abuse continues’,” said Lindegger. Clinical psychologist Dr Graham Lindegger defined emotional abuse as any relationship in which the other is consistently denigrated by words and actions such as name-calling, attacks, emotional manipulation, belittling. However, he also warned that the abuse is sometimes more subtle.