Archive for December, 2009

Is “you’re a bad mom” Emotional Abuse?

I work with individuals and couples facing emotional abuse. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that if your partner is saying that you’re a bad mother, chances are that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship. I’m assuming you’re not breaking bones or leaving bruises here and that you’re doing the basics of motherhood – cleaning, feeding, and drying those tears. Motherhood is unbelievably hard and what we need are partners that get that and try in any way they can to support us and help us through the daily struggle.

Roni Weisberg-Ross, LMFT, says this about it:

How then do we recognize and deal with emotional abuse?

Trust your own instincts and the instincts of others who claim to have been abused. If you/they feel it or can name it, attention must be paid. Respect your emotions. This abuse is insidious and can be very subtle. But it wears away at your self-esteem and sense of self. If someone has or is continually making you feel bad about yourself, scaring you or making you feel as if you are crazy, then even if they aren’t fully aware of it, they are abusing you. Just because emotional abuse is not treated as a crime doesn’t mean it isn’t serious.

So how do you start the healing process from emotional abuse?

First, you recognize it. “Trying harder” will not stop abuse because nothing you did caused it in the first place. No matter how clean the house it, how spotless the kitchen, how quiet the children are, an abuser will find something to attack. Try to recognize that as a first step. Then seek some help in dealing with this very subtle, insidious problem.

Abusers can change, particularly when they are confronted with how hurtful and painful the abuse is for their families. Yes, families. It’s not good for children to grow up witnessing emotional abuse and learning either that that is how you treat someone or that is how you’re treated in what is supposed to be a loving relationship. But besides them, it’s not good for you either.

Roni’s blog is at:

Another resource is Annie Kaszina’s newsletter, which is excellent. You can find it at