Recognizing The Impact of Shame in Toxic Relationships

You might never have thought about the possible elements of shame in toxic relationships. This is something that likely both you and the #Hijackal are experiencing. No, there’s no excuse for the abuse, but this episode will help you understand a deep dynamic in these relationships. Important to know!


  • Differences between conscious and unconscious abusers
  • How we accept shame when we have had childhood abuse, childhood emotional neglect, or adverse childhood experiences
  • Differences between shame and guilt
  • Why shame is so hidden and, therefore, damaging
  • The link between shame and narcissism
  • Why Beverly Engel suggests that shame’s counter emotion is pride

Where does the shame in toxic relationships come from?

Shame is often not spoken of, or acknowledged on both sides of an emotionally abusive relationship with anyone. Today’s episode puts the spotlight on this component of emotional abuse, for both the perpetrator and the recipient.

My guest, Beverly Engel, wrote in her most recent book, Escaping Emotional Abuse: Healing From the Shame You Don’t Deserve:

“Shame is the most destructive aspect of emotional abuse and it can be the most difficult to heal.”

Sometimes people stay in abusive relationships BECAUSE they feel that leaving one is shameful. After all, you chose to enter it, if it’s a romantic relationship. Know this: emotionally abusive people pose as potential soulmates to lure you into giving them control over time. It’s not your fault! You couldn’t have known, in most cases. So, this episode will be ABSOLUTELY affirming for you, and can give you a new perspective that is empowering.


shame in toxic relationshipsBeverly Engel is an internationally recognized psychotherapist and an acclaimed advocate for victims of toxic relationships and sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. She is the author of 23 self-help books, including 3 bestselling books on emotional abuse: The Emotionally Abusive Relationship, The Emotionally Abused Woman, and Encouragements for the Emotionally Abused Woman. Engel is a licensed marriage and family therapist, and has been practicing psychotherapy for 40 years.

She is author of the forthcoming book, ESCAPING EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Healing from the Shame You Don’t Deserve (Kensington, January 2021). She writes about the insidious damage of emotional abuse – a form of domestic violence – and the forms it can take (such as saying or implying that you are ugly, a bad parent, stupid, incompetent, or that no one else could love you). Once a person finally realizes they are being emotionally abused, it is debilitating shame that prevents them from first creating the emotional armor necessary to shield one’s identity from abusive messages, and then stepping away from the relationship.

Engel shares the Five-Step Program she offers in her therapy practice, which has helped her victims overcome the shame of Emotional Abuse, and will also serve as a guide for your listeners who provide services to the emotionally abused.






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