While physical abuse is always a concern, experts say many more suffer from emotional abuse without realizing it. One courageous woman is sounding the alarm by helping other women survive their abusive relationship – and thrive.
According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), nearly 50% of all women have experienced at least one instance of psychologically aggressive behavior with an intimate partner. And, while most people think of domestic violence mostly in terms of physical aggression, 95% of men who physically abuse their intimate partners also psychologically abuse them.
In fact, the NCADV says that 7 out of 10 psychologically abused women display symptoms of depression and/or PTSD. Victims of emotional and psychological abuse can also experience suicidal thoughts, have low self-esteem, and find it difficult to trust others.
“Emotional abuse does far more extensive and lifelong damage than physical abuse,” says Suzanna Quintana, author, abuse survivor, and single mom who escaped nearly two decades of abuse from a diagnosed narcissist. “It’s so insidious, almost like a cancer, where you don’t know that it’s slowly killing you until it’s too late.”
Quintana is the author of the bestselling book, You’re Still That Girl: Get Over Your Abusive Ex for Good! and helps other women recover and heal after abusive relationships, especially emotional and narcissistic abuse. According to Quintana, emotional abuse can be so subtle that women may not even realize it is happening to them – and, unlike the obvious signs of physical abuse, victims are often isolated and feel very alone. “There are no bruises to show for emotional, financial, or psychological abuse,” Quintana says. “While I was in my marriage I had no idea that I was a victim of abuse. You don’t realize what’s going on. You think the problem is yourself.”
Eventually, Quintana was able to break free from her narcissistic husband – but only after years of mistakes, broken promises, and failed attempts to fix the unfixable. “Divorcing a narcissist is like going to hell and back – and the healing process wasn’t any easier,” Quintana says. “I made every mistake there was to make simply because I was alone and emotionally vulnerable. I didn’t have the capability to make good decisions, so I made choices that I later regretted; and when you’re dealing with a narcissist who is out to destroy you, this can be devastating. That’s why I do what I do and help women navigate their journey through recovery. There’s no reason the process needs to take as long as it did for me. I want to help other women avoid the same mistakes I made.”
Today, Quintana coaches women who are in similarly abusive relationships and encourages them, above all, to trust their intuition. “Call it intuition, or your gut instinct, or your sixth sense, whatever it is – we have that voice inside of us,” she says. “Real love does not abuse. So, it’s really just a matter of getting back in touch with that voice inside that’s like, ‘No girl! You know he is not being good to you.’”
Many victims of emotional abuse find Quintana to be an especially helpful guide since she has experienced the same trauma. “My sessions with Suzanna helped to validate my actions and push through my fear,” says to Barb S., a client who found contacted Quintana while going through a court battle with her narcissistic ex-husband. “I continue on my journey to recovery and I am ever so grateful for Suzanna’s hand and support in this.”
Another client, Kathy M., says, “I don’t know what I would have done without Suzanna by my side as I went through the divorce process with my narcissistic ex. She helped me see that I was worthy of so much more and now my life is on track for being better than ever!”
“My message to women suffering or recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, especially with a narcissist, is that you’re not alone,” Quintana says. “You deserve to not only get out of it and escape that darkness of pain and suffering, but to also live a life that you’ve always dreamed of. And it’s never too late.”
Suzanna Quintana is a writer, abuse survivor, single mom, and bestselling author of You’re Still That Girl: Get Over Your Abusive Ex for Good! To learn more, or to schedule a complimentary strategy session with Suzanna Quintana, visit suzannaquintana.com.
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