As a psychotherapist, I experience my clients' emotional wounds as they talk about the families and situations they grew up in. Everybody has had pain in their lives, but not everybody needs therapy to deal with their pasts.
The subject of physical and sexual abuse is never easy to address though some movies, TV shows, and media can put an exploitive spin on the topic. The media can also help educate us about the horrific truths of abuse and encourage societal change and therapy for the "victims"... But as viewers we often shy away from such subject matter as it's "too upsetting".
This is understandable as most of us are just trying to get through the day. Even those seeking therapy to feel less anxious or depressed can avoid talking about this painful material and choose not to go this deep in their therapy. This is fairly natural conflict for a number of my clients.
Emotional and verbal abuse are less obvious forms of abuse but nonetheless are also potentially soul-crushing. I've heard a number of people say that since they weren't "beaten or molested" that they don't feel they grew up in abusive environments.
Most of us want to feel like we are OK despite our difficult pasts. We do not want to label ourselves "victims" of abuse. It does help build character to face adversity and survive. People can exceed in many aspects of their lives despite early deficits--that's been proven over and over again.
Unfortunately, too many people avoid acknowledging that emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse did happen to them as this acknowledgement itself makes them "the victim" and they want to NOT be that.
Emotional abuse from our pasts, however, can have a lasting impact on our current relationships with our romantic partners, children, bosses, coworkers, and friends. If you find yourself often feeling attacked or on the defensive with others, see if you may be experiencing feelings of being powerless that stem from earlier experiences with an "original abuser".
Do you hold back in expressing yourself with others? Or the opposite occurs, are you often explosive with your opinion? Do you tend to repeat the same interpersonal behaviors with others and feel stuck with the results? Abuse in our pasts can result in our repeating similar patterns in the here and now.
Assertiveness training and self-esteem readings are a good place to start to develop more effective means of expressing yourself. Please consider psychotherapy with a licensed therapist trained in dealing with abuse for guidance in this process.
By becoming more honest with yourself and gaining awareness of how your original abuser emotionally harmed you, you can begin to understand your own choices and behaviors and truly begin to free yourself from unhealthy patterns in the present.