How to Recover from an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

If you have been involved in emotionally abusive relationships, you may not have a clear idea of what a healthy relationship is like.

To really know if you are in the healthy relationship necessary for your personal growth, look at the human needs we all have, and ask the fundamental question:

How are those needs satisfied through this relationship? How is the other person in my life aware of my needs, and aware of his/her role concerning my needs satisfaction?

We are proposing here that you see this partnership as a mutual agreement by which each other knows that the satisfaction of the needs of his/her partner are the essence of the relationship. If a spouse is not providing security and recognition to the other, where from this person will receive them? And how do you survive in a relationship, if you provide love, connection and recognition in a permanent way to your spouse, but don’t receive the same? The beginning of an abusive relationship profile emerges here.

We call it abuse when a person uses power to reduce the other person’s will to his/her will, creating a power asymmetry within an emotional relationship.

We can also call abuse when a person knows that his/her spouse’s basic satisfaction of her needs depends on him providing enough love, connection and recognition as to make her happy, but willingly denies her that satisfaction.

Want to know more? Here you have some needs, see if yours are here, and try to establish, from 0 to 5, how much satisfaction of each need are you receiving (and giving) today. Can you see some changes coming?

Basically they  are four important groups of human needs, to be only satisfied through the interaction with other human being:


  • The need for unconditional emotional support.
  • The need for clear, honest and informative answers to questions about what affects you.
  • The need for freedom from emotional and physical threats, angry outbursts and rage attacks.


  • The need to have your final decisions accepted.
  • The need for encouragement and support when you make decisions  different from what others expected.
  • The need to live free from undue criticism when experimenting when you want something different.


  • The need to be heard by the other and to be responded to with respect and acceptance.
  • The need to receive a sincere apology for any jokes or actions you find offensive.
  • The need to be respectfully asked rather than ordered.


  • The need to have your own view, free from accusation, interrogation and blame..
  • The need for basic good will from the others, regardless who you are.
  • The need to have your feelings and experience acknowledged as real.

NOW is your time of reckoning….How well did you do? How many of those needs are in a state of starvation? How long ago did you receive (or give) your last compliment, or expression of sincere appreciation?

Perhaps now we can understand better the silent resentment that simmers in some relationships, when this covenant is not respected and we find people telling themselves that they have no role whatsoever in promoting the happiness of their spouse by solving their deep needs.

If not them, it’s only a question of time that somebody else, by offering the unexpected compliment, could shake to the core this empty marital structure. In short, if there is no responsible satisfaction, probably you are being denied and abused.

This is a brave way of evaluating a relationship, but please, ask yourself:

If I don’t get any satisfaction to my needs, am I accepting denigration and abuse instead? What are the consequences for my self-esteem if this is the case? and how can I recover from this emotionally abusive relationship?

Now that you know what is the size and shape of the vacuum left by this empty relationship, look at your needs. Those needs are what make of you a human being…how are you going to solve them responsibly? How are you going to take your own needs so seriously as to make a plan to provide for the love, respect and appreciation you now know you need day by day?

There is no recovery from an emotionally abusive relationship if you don’t take upon yourself the task of feeding solutions to your legitimate needs. Up until now, the circuit to their satisfaction was established through a frustrating partner, taking some pleasure in denying you of your humanity. Now, to be able to recover, you need to embrace your starved different aspects and resolve to find nurturing relationships for them.

Nora Femenia, PH.D is passionate about supporting women’s recovery from emotional abuse once and for all. Nora has created a powerful set of tools for helping women break out of the mind-set that keeps them in a toxic relationship by first discovering unconscious beliefs and family blueprints.

To know more about her latest book “Recovering From Emotionally Abusive Relationships” please visit

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