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372 of 378 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2000
For me, this book above all other self-help books on the subject I've read really hit home. I was physically and emotionally abused for most of my childhood. Once I grew up and left home I became involved with emotionally abusive men again and again, for the last several years. I couldn't understand why I always seemed to pick the wrong guy, and why life was so painful, and demeaning. Through therapy and self-help books I was able to come to some realizations. This book was so powerful that halfway through I had to put it down for some time because the personal truths I arrived at were so painful to face. I hope any person out there who is going through or has been through an emotionally abusive relationship will give this book a try. It is well worth it.
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129 of 131 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2007
It can take years, even a lifetime, to heal from emotional abuse. The author, Beverly Engel, lets us know within the first pages that she has endured a history of abuse, and from this background, she has made her career choices, mainly, to become a therapist helping others in similar circumstances.

The abused person is often taken by surprise, emotionally involved before the abuse fully takes hold. The abuser often has a two-sided personality, referred to as Jekyll and Hyde - one charming and intelligent and likeable, the other a cruel and perverse tormentor.

Engel writes: "It is often difficult for a woman to admit that she is indeed being emotionally abused, particularly if she is competent and successful in other respects... many women who are being emotionally abused do not even realize what is happening to them. Many suffer from the effects of emotional abuse - depression, lack of motivation, confusion, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, low self-esteem, feelings of failure, worthlessness, and hopelessness, self-blame, and self-destructiveness - but do not understand what is causing these symptoms."

The process seeps into the psyche like a slow poison, rearranging our ability to cope. "She has become so beaten down emotionally that she blames herself for the abuse. Her self-esteem is so low that she clings to her abuser."

Which is perhaps the hardest to understand, by the woman herself as well as family and friends who keep asking - "Why do you stay? Why do you put up with it?" - and never find a rational answer. There is none. Engel explains, "Emotional-abuse victims become so convinced they are worthless that they believe no one else could possibly want them. They stay in abusive situations because they believe they have nowhere else to go."

Engel takes us through the ways that emotional abuse expresses itself and how it works. "Emotionally abusive lovers and mates cause tremendous damage to a woman's ego. They have our trust, our vulnerability, our hearts, and our bodies. Using a variety of tactics, an abusive husband or lover can damage a woman's self-esteem, make her doubt her desirability and hate her body, and break her heart... When we love someone we tend to make excuses for his behavior; we always want to give him the benefit of the doubt. This is especially true when the other person is good to us in other ways." The abuser, Engel writes, makes his partner believe "she was so stupid, ugly, and unlovable that she was lucky to have him... told her she wasn't as pretty as the other girls he had dated, that she wasn't good in bed, and that his friends didn't think she was good enough for him."

And who is he? Often, Engel says, he is an addict of some kind, whether to alcohol or drugs or sex, and his own self-esteem is so low that he can keep a partner only by causing her self-esteem to be even lower than his own. He is frequently the product of abuse himself, often taking on the traits of his own abusers. He tends to be socially isolated, unable to maintain any healthy friendships or other relationships.

Once Engel has helped us understand the process and the damage done by it, she encourages and instructs on how to release years of pent-up rage in constructive manner, while rebuilding confidence. There are no shortcuts to healing. Finally, she helps us to understand how to stop repeating the cycle by finishing unfinished business, how to recognize the red flags of an abusive person when we first meet him. If we have not allowed the time to release our anger and heal the damage, we are doomed to repeat the pattern.

For this reason above all, this is an important book to read for anyone who has felt the lash of such abuse. Take the time to understand. Take the time to work through the damage. Take the time to heal. Take the time to nurture yourself back to health and rebuild your ability to love and to know real love when you meet it.
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132 of 134 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 1996
Engel gives a concise description of what emotional abuse is, and the types of abusers and victims.
She helps to uncover the patterns and reasons for abuse,
ways to recover from it.
Like many women in emotionally abusive relationships, it
was very difficult for me to even see it occurring.
Her book is a constant reminder of how to stop the cycle,
both for me and for my children.
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144 of 150 people found the following review helpful
This book helped me to see my situation for what it was--and really opened my eyes. The abuse I was experiencing began as verbal/emotional and escalated into physical. The book was loaned to me by a friend and I cannot put into words how much it helped to read the scenarios that seemed to be exactly what I was going through. Beverly Engel offered step by step help, first explaining the situations, how to identify my role, and how to deal with it. Taking her advice to heart, I am happy to report that I was able to safely leave my abusive relationship and have gone on to help others in the same situation. The book is helpful for all types of abuse, not just emotional. The book is also wonderful to use in conjuction with therapy. Thank you Beverly for being there!!!
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60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2001
Reading this book was possibly one of the best things to happen to me. I had just left a bad longterm relationship, but was still being sought by my ex-partner, and was having great difficulty understanding what had happened/was happening. I had not considered that I'd been abused. This book is so clear in demonstrating the methods and types of (not only emotional) abuse! As I read it, I felt as if the author was explaining my life to me. One of the best things about the book is that Beverly does not foster hate for or revenge on the person that did this to you; instead she showed me how heal, to strengthen and how to move on with my life as a better person.
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104 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2003
I was glad I read the 5 star customer reviews here. Once therapy helps you to realize the abuse then this wonderful book can take over the nuts and bolts of your recovery. Engel explains everything very clearly into the what- when- wheres- and why's of emotional abuse and its effects on you. Most importantly she explains the pitfalls of the emotionally abused woman and how she sets up her life (subconciously) for repeated abuse. Engels doesn't leave out the ways to help yourself recover. I plan to read this book again and in my opinion this book qualifies as the bible for adult women who have been emotionally abused as children. Thank you past reviewers!!! And yes I can really see how this book would be fabulous for group therapy. It is very easy to read.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on May 17, 2000
This book is so right on in every way! It addresses what emotional abuse is, why we choose to get in these kind of relationships, looking at the past/family, and how to deal with the problems today in constructive, appropriate ways. I highly recommend it if you feel you or a friend needs to learn more about relationships that aren't working or aren't equal. You may be surprised at what you learn, especially if you've been in denial. A real eye-opener.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2001
This book was very helpful to me in understanding what type of abuse I have suffered, the impact this abuse has had on my life and my decisions, as well as how to overcome it in order to live a happy healthy life - breaking the cycle. It was very well-written and easy to follow (though the print was very small), as well as interesting and full of facts. What I liked most about this book was that it seems to take you on a journey towards understanding yourself and your abuse pattern. The first chapter offers an overview on the emotionally abused woman and "who" she is, then goes into the different types of abuse so that you can distinguish what type of abuse you have suffered. She then goes into detail about the characteristics of each type of abuse, the common results, and how it has lead you to where you are today. She then finally offers many exercises in cyphoning out all of this pent up anger and hurt in a productive, affective way. i.e. - "Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself." It was a wonderful book.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Because of a very verbal abusing/controlling relationship, I bought this book. It has opened my eyes in more ways than one. I highly recommend this book. Another reason that I bought this book is that since being in this controlling relationship for 5 years, I have had migraines and muscle aches 5 times per week or more that kept me bedridden! My self-esteem went from a healthy 10 to a minus 2 these past 5 years. Moreover, because I was "ill" so much, I did not exercise and gained 35 pounds. Eating had become my comfort, even sickness became my comfort. This book has helped to discoverer:
By ALLOWING this person to verbually abuse me and control me, it caused illness in my body and very often! I was tired of being ill most of the time. You see, I used my "illness" to gain control by:
1) Getting him to feel sorry for me so I could have my way for a change--I would not be forced to do what he wanted when I was "ill". (This "illness" method has stopped working in the last year).
2) I told my "illness" BYE BYE because it was controlling me! Now, I choose the healthy and honest way to control my life: "Stand up for myself with no need to explain myself."
3) I used the "illness" as an excuse to go to bed and "hide" from this person. Also, it was an excuse to not have to go to work so this person would continue to "take care of me." Now, I am walking 2 miles a day and physically and mentally I am healthier. I am getting in shape mentally and physically--I can go to work with no problem. And take care of myself with no problem.
2) After reading this book, I realized that I had ALLOWED this person to control me for 5 years and be verbally abusive to me when we were alone and in public. I have taken back my power now and I am now in control. Today, for the first time, I stood up to him and said "No" about something I did not want to do and told him what I CHOOSE to do instead. And I felt wonderful inside, my self-esteem went up quite a lot! YES!!!
If you are in a relationship or taking any kind of verbal abuse or control, I highly suggest that you purchase this book. I has truly been an eye-opener and life-saver for me as I learned that I had allowed this person to verbally abuse and control me, I gave him this power because I let him do these things. No more, now, I am in control of my life and my thoughts. This book is so very highly recommended and I believe it will help you. Also, may I suggest that you consider Louise Hay CD's" Self-Esteem, Stress-Free, 101-Power Thoughts", these have also been a big help to me and I listen to them often. May my story help others who are hurting right now, may you find the peace and love that you need.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2005
I disagree with the reviewer who stated:

"The author suggests that emotionally abused women are a certain type, as if they set themselves up for the abuse and/or are drawn to it. If you believe that rape victims are somewhat responsible when violated because of the way they dressed or behaved, then you may be able to get past the first few pages of this book, otherwise, this book is not for you.

Emotional abuse can and does happen to women who experienced no form of abuse whatsoever in their childhood. These women can be intelligent, attractive, and self-assured. Often the abuse is so undetected, a form of brainwashing, that who they are actually changes over time so that those qualities are not as prevalent. The woman is not at fault for the abuse, despite her own interpersonal weaknesses, she is not the cause."

The reason why I disagree with the commentary above is because this book is for those who have a PATTERN of ending up in abusive relationships. End up in one abusive relationship, shame on that person. End up in a series of abusive relationships and one really could benefit from exploring why she is so drawn to the same type of individual (abuser!) repeatedly.

If you feel compelled to compare emotional abuse to rape then one could ask, "If you walked down a particular alley and were raped, certainly that would not be your fault. But would you keep walking down that same alley time and again, knowing that a rapist was awaiting you at the other end?" The fact is that most abusive partners exhibit what are called 'red flag warnings' early enough into the union so that a woman who is astute to these, and who knows how to set firm boundaries, can oftentimes spare herself the grief of being abused yet again. At the least, she can extricate herself from the relationship ASAP once she recognizes that she is being abused.

Therefore, the pervasive message of this book is NOT that women are to blame for being abused, but that with awareness they have a CHOICE as to whether or not to go down that same alley again. They can decide who they get involved with/remain involved with and why. This is an empowering message; a lot more so than telling women, "You are completely powerless when it comes to your relationships. No matter what you think, choose, say, or do if you are going to be a victim of abuse, you are going to be a victim of abuse. Accept it." Yikes!

There are different stages of recovery for targets of emotional abuse. One of the earlier stages often enough being to `blame' others for their own issues, choices, and the predicaments they find themselves in once they realize they are being abused and are, understandably, quite angry and defensive about this. Whereas, the conclusive stage of recovery is one of self-responsibility; whereupon the now former target of emotional abuse takes back her power by taking responsibility for her own issues, choices, and the predicaments she finds herself in from hereon in. This book, and an exceptional one at that, is for those who are ready to be more responsible and break the pattern of emotionally abusive relationships in their lives!
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