My Best Friend Almost Died At The Hands Of An Emotional Abuser

Emotional abuse is still abuse.

emotional woman yanik88/ Shutterstock

Emotional abuse is one of the most insidious things that can happen to someone who just wanted a healthy, happy relationship. Unlike physical abuse, in which the danger is very obvious and present, emotional abuse leaves everyone, even the victim, wondering if it's "really that bad."

What most people don't realize is that emotional abuse can be just as lethal as physical abuse. In fact, I have seen the physical damage it can do firsthand with a female friend I have.


My friend was in a relationship with a rather abusive man. Unlike most abusers, he didn't isolate my friend.

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Instead, what he did was just little subtle digs all the time mixed in with a large dose of gaslighting, cheating, and dangling commitment above her head like a carrot on a stick.

Around him, it'd always be questions like, "You sure you want to eat that?" It'd include him putting her in a room with his parents, both of which made no qualms with showing her how much they hated her.

It'd include him taking her to places where people would go out of their way to avoid her and it'd also include him saying that he "wasn't sure" about marrying her despite the fact that she said it was a major thing to her.


To make matters worse, he also "wasn't sure if he could stay loyal" and actively pursued other women while he was official with her.

The bottom line was that this was a man who did everything possible to reduce her self-esteem. And it was a pattern in all of his past relationships.

I'd known this man for a very long time and had known his exes intimately as friends.

Every single ex he ever had, he had badmouthed. He'd ruin their reputation after they'd leave him, play the victim, then act shocked when he'd find out that they had developed eating disorders, drinking problems, or drug issues to cope with the abuse.

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You see, with emotional abuse, the abuser often ends up getting their victim to hurt themselves in one way or another.

This is because stress is painful for our bodies. Even if they don't end up drinking their liver into submission or starving themselves, a person who is regularly emotionally abused will end up getting health problems due to stress.

This is why people who have been abused all their lives often end up with shorter lifespans and why people often talk about giving someone a heart attack or wrinkles when they're stressed.

I saw the damage emotional abuse took on my friend. The damage escalated and increased to the point where it wasn't just a matter of just feeling blue.


Her healthy smile started to fade, with every other day being a drunken phone call resulting in tears.

She began to drink more and more, to the point where she had gotten signs of cirrhosis.

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We began to notice she was getting lethargic and that she was having major stress-related problems including heart palpitations. It became clear to us that she'd end up drinking herself into a coffin if we didn't do something.

Eventually, we had to have an intervention for her and it resulted in her breaking up with him.

Every friend she had ended up begging her to leave him because we were all so scared that he'd end up killing her via a mixture of stress and drinking. She listened and left him. Thankfully, she's getting better every day and she's getting used to being without his toxic influence in her life.


Seeing the breakup taught us all important lessons.

For her, it taught her the importance of good friends and leaving toxic people behind. For me, seeing it again all really hammered home that abuse kills, even if the abuser never hits the victim.

And in the end, the only one who didn't learn much about anything was the abuser himself, who still sees himself as a victim in all of it.


If you’re experiencing domestic abuse, you’re not alone. The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that approximately 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the U.S. More than 12 million women and men over the course of the year suffer from instances of domestic violence and abuse.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer whose work has been featured in Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, New Theory Magazine, and others.