Healing from Emotional Abuse: Insights from UNCG Professor Christine Murray

Posted on January 26, 2024

Christine Murray Last First Date radio graphic

In a recent podcast episode of “Last First Date Radio,” Christine Murray, a professor in UNC Greensboro’s Department of Counseling and Educational Development, and Sandy Winer, author and advocate, engaged in a critical discussion about the intricacies of emotional abuse and the journey towards recovery. The conversation provided a wealth of knowledge for anyone interested in understanding and healing from the scars of emotional abuse.

Understanding Emotional Abuse

Christine Murray, a recognized authority in the field, illuminated the various forms of emotional abuse. She described it as a pattern of behavior within intimate relationships where hurtful words and manipulative tactics are employed to control and harm a partner. This includes not only verbal abuse but also insidious forms such as gaslighting and emotional neglect, where a partner’s emotional needs are systematically unmet.

Christine Murray
UNCG Professor Christine Murray who teaches in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development

The Complexity of Emotional Abuse

Sandy Winer, the host and an experienced author on relationships, acknowledged the nuanced nature of emotional abuse. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse can be more challenging to identify and confront. Winer shared insights from the Triumph Over Abuse campaign, which revealed that the consequences of emotional abuse can be deeply rooted and complex, often requiring more effort to overcome than physical abuse.

The Impact of Emotional Abuse

Murray discussed the profound effects of emotional abuse, including diminished self-esteem, pervasive self-doubt, and feelings of shame and isolation. Drawing from her personal journey as a survivor, she stressed the importance of recognizing and labeling the abuse. She also underscored the value of a support network, including friends, family, and professionals, in aiding survivors to make informed decisions about their relationships and prioritize their safety.

The Healing Process

The importance of actively pursuing healing was a key point made by Murray. She emphasized that acknowledging the need for healing and setting intentions to address it are critical first steps. She encouraged identifying triggers and patterns and seeking out various forms of support, such as therapy, literature, online resources, or support groups, to aid in the healing process.

Educating Yourself and Seeking Support

Winer highlighted the importance of self-education on the signs of abuse and the pursuit of external support. She pointed out the necessity of finding individuals who will listen and validate one’s experiences. She also discussed the significance of understanding one’s desires in a relationship and establishing non-negotiables.

Looking Beyond Surface-Level Traits

Both Murray and Winer discussed the importance of seeking deeper qualities in a partner, such as emotional intelligence and the ability to communicate openly. Murray suggested making a list of needs across various dimensions of a relationship to find a partner who can meet these needs and provide a sense of safety.

The Role of Partners in Supporting Survivors

The conversation also touched on how partners can support survivors of emotional abuse. Murray advised partners to be patient and supportive, avoiding assumptions about the survivor’s behaviors. She emphasized the need for partners to be cognizant of potential triggers and to adapt their behavior to foster a secure and nurturing environment.

Final Words of Advice

Concluding the episode, Murray advised taking time to truly understand a new partner’s behavior, particularly for those with a history of quickly entering relationships without recognizing red flags. Winer concurred, noting that a slower approach allows for healing and the breaking of unhealthy patterns before embarking on a new relationship.

The episode ended with gratitude for the enlightening discussion and a mention of a free resource offered by Murray on the See the Triumph website, aimed at supporting survivors of abuse.

This podcast episode was a deep and necessary exploration of emotional abuse, offering hope and guidance for those on the path to healing. It is a conversation that contributes significantly to the awareness and understanding of this complex issue, especially for a college-level audience seeking to navigate relationships with greater awareness and care.

Story by University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Additional photography courtesy of stock.adobe.com

Woman sits on the ground with headphones on

Listen to the Podcast


Share This