12 Songs About Emotional Abuse – From Parents, Relationships
So many of us have had the awful and traumatic misfortune of being the subject of emotional abuse from our loved ones. Thankfully, we can always turn to music when in crisis, and when it comes to songs about emotional abuse, that’s never been more true.
In this article, I’m going to provide you with my favorite honest, raw, and sometimes inspirational songs that cover this very topic. Hopefully you find one of two songs that you most connect with (and ones that can be added to your playlist).
Songs About Emotional Abuse to Help You Heal
Let’s begin with a song by Machine Gun Kelly.
Dark Side of the Moon by Machine Gun Kelly
Machine Gun Kelly, or MGK’s, “Dark Side of the Moon” explores the darker, more heinous side of life that isn’t often addressed due to the discomfort it can evoke in oneself.
Unfortunately, bad things do happen to people and MGK normalizes this by focusing on the individual lives of a couple of people in his verses. “Tommy was dumb,” he says, repeating the core belief that Tommy has developed about himself due to his alcoholic father’s incessant abuse.
His father pushes him to the brink of madness every day, and he even has to endure further bullying at school. “Tommy was numb,” MGK declares, exemplifying Tommy reaching his breaking point that pushes him to bring a firearm to his school and put everyone’s life in danger. Tommy became a criminal, but he was a victim as well.
Emotional abuse is no laughing matter and Tommy’s situation is a very common scenario millions of people experience every day—we can’t just run away from truth. Just as MGK says, “the dark side of the moon is imminent because you can’t escape fate.”
Lauren by Men I Trust
“Lauren” is one of the many songs that encouraged me to escape my own emotional abusive relationships. “There’s a voice I always trust,” the singers begin.
“Its friendly helping hand tells me leave, I must.”
This is a song about listening to your intuition, even when you seem to be in the darkest of situations that may affect your perception of your reality. It’s gentle and soothing, masking the desperate urgency many of us may feel while seemingly trapped in emotional abusive relationships.
“’Cause I can’t stay here forever,” the singers sing in unison, “…by my window.”
A person who is consistently looking out of the window, even in their own home, is indicative of a deep longing within that person to separate themselves from their current situation; but they often don’t know where to start, and end up staring out of their window, searching for an answer.
“Lauren” is not designed to evoke anxiety within us, but rather fill us with calm resolve toward the decisions we must make in order to feel safe.
I Won’t by Alexander Vincent
One of Alexander Vincent’s most popular tracks features a mournful attitude towards relationships that lack vulnerability. “I won’t say a word, you’ve already heard me; I won’t say a word, you’re not even listening, so…I won’t say a word to you….”
These lyrics fade into a largely instrumental journey that takes place inside Vincent’s heart, as it whirls us around and around into the often incapacitating emotions of our grief.
The story behind this track come’s from Vincent’s fixation on the importance of being vulnerable with loved ones. “You just have to open yourself up, and a lot of us are just closed down.
Being vulnerable means challenging yourself to connect with something deeper.” Many of us have wanted to be heard, but our thoughts and explanations have fallen on deaf ears so many times that we retreat into ourselves and never reach true common ground.
Just like how this song folds in on itself, and ends without resolution.
Daddy by Korn
This gut-wrenching song is about lead singer, Jonathan Davis, experiencing abuse as a child and not being believed by his parents. His parents were far from perfect, but children should feel safe enough to be honest with their parents and be believed and protected in return.
But, as fate would have it in this song, his claims were dismissed by his adult authority figures, which caused even more distress. This song is difficult to listen to because Davis instructed his band members to not stop playing, no matter what happened, which, after singing all the lyrics, he had a massive mental breakdown.
No matter how difficult it was to create this track, “Daddy” is a massive breakthrough in musical history. Not only was Davis utterly brave for sharing his story, but he also helped to give survivors and victims a voice to express their truth as well.
Second Chance by Shinedown
I love the elation in Shinedown’s “Second Chance” that screams, “this is my life and I did it!” While the singer was trying his best to make his musical passion a career, he experienced a lot of harsh pushbacks from his family members who had no faith in him.
Grief-stricken by their response, he laments about his options on what to do next. In beautiful symbolism, he mentions seeing Haley’s Comet that asked him “why are you always running in place?”
He’s fed up with being stagnant with himself and being stagnated by his family and knows that saying goodbye is his best bet if he wants to succeed; he chose to separate from them and focus on himself. This decision was naturally difficult, but he rejoices declaring “I made it through the day.”
In the end, we are often the only ones who believe in ourselves, which is more than enough encouragement and support to achieve what we want.
Sense by The New Division
I will never forget the ineffable euphoria that thrives throughout this amazing dance track. The lyrics are short and simple, but they harbor such an effective meaning in the souls of many of us who have experienced emotional abuse from loved ones.
After an uplifting piano solo, the lyrics begin, “They told your mom, they told your mom that you weren’t making any sense. That you’re a waster, dirty prankster trying to stir some suspense.”
The lyrics are pretty much the same in the second verse but are geared towards the father in this story. This song speaks to the souls of misfit children who are longing to be themselves.
The New Division goads these individuals by asking, “Don’t you just wanna run downtown?” I recently bonded with a stranger about this song, as we both expressed how “Sense” made us into the hopeful, happy, and free people we are today.
The moral of our stories is simple, “Don’t let anyone tell you who you should and shouldn’t be!”
Follow You by Bring Me The Horizon
According to front man of Bring Me The Horizon, Oliver Sykes, “Follow You” is a tragic love song about sticking it through thick and thin with his wife at the time. Although he’s clearly suffering from the rough patch they are going through, he doesn’t care.
He’s completely smitten by the loving relationship he has in his mind and will follow her to the ends of the earth. With passion, he exclaims, “so you can drag me through H*ll if it meant I could hold your hand.”
He even says she can go as far as to “throw me to the flames.” He’s fine with being so devoted to her that he calls himself her “one man cult,” which, in addition to so many other lyrics, shines a spotlight on the self-destructive behavior we find ourselves in when we’re desperate to please an emotionally abusive person. He would eventually succumb to his emotional wounds a few years later.
Ouch by Bring Me The Horizon
Oh heck—let’s go with one more song by Bring Me the Horizon.
“Ouch” is the perfect representation of the pain Oliver Sykes endured while being married to his ex-wife. This song is short and lively, and the title of the track sums up everything he felt towards the end of his relationship with his ex-wife, such as emotional abuse and infidelity.
The most shocking, yet not entirely surprising lyric is what launches the single, beautifully orchestrated verse: “I always knew this was going to end in tears.” Sykes admits he knew his relationship was doomed from the beginning, yet he references that in a previous album, he was determined to suffer if it meant staying in a loving relationship.
His sorrow mirrors that of many individuals who stay for excruciating periods of time for the sake of “love.” His ex-wife also suffered, as the lyrics mentioned “didn’t think your wrists would keep a souvenir,” implying that she engaged in physical self-harm to mitigate the self-hatred she was going through as well.
If “Ouch” teaches you nothing else, allow it to remind you that staying in an emotionally abusive relationship does more harm than good for all parties.
Gaslight by Snow Tha Product
In this upbeat trap track, Snow Tha Product describes all of the glaring toxic traits her ex possessed. From being manipulative, to being unable to commit (which she points out is his biggest talent), she is sick of his games.
Indignantly, she declares, “and you could tell me lies, tell me, tell me lies, tell me I’m trippin’; tell me why, tell me I’m the one, then rewind to a gaslight road.”
She has heard his lies, excuses, and complaints about his infidelity, his exes who are all suspiciously either “amazing” or “crazy”, yet he can’t own up to any of his mistakes when he’s caught and resorts to gaslighting her until she feels confused.
People who inflict emotional abuse thrive on the ability to disorient and confuse their victims, which lets them off the hook when someone tries to hold them accountable for their actions. Snow Tha Product refuses to be manipulated as such and calls him out for all of his parlor tricks, thus announcing good riddance.
Glad He’s Gone by Tove Lo
This song is one big shoutout to all the women who had to listen to their friends cry over and over about abusive deadbeat men who were no good for them. As if through a looking glass, she observes her friend loving him too deeply, while he enjoys being hard to please.
Tove Lo asks her friend a series of questions that reveals her friend’s being way too accommodating for a guy who doesn’t deserve any of her time. Despite knowing that her friend may be going through some hard times, Tove Lo makes their breakup a celebration.
She expresses “I love you, he never loved you; he never saw all the pretty things in you that I do.” Mockingly, she sings in a celebratory manner, “He’s gone. He’s gone. You’re better off, I’m glad that he’s gone!”
Golden Liar by Zeal & Ardor
This dark and old southern track by Zeal & Ardor has a poetic and sinister energy that has the ability to move mountains within us. Focusing both on the lyrics and the music video, “Golden Liar” is about a villainous person who seems to live a pious and truthful life immersed in religious beliefs.
On the outside, they influence the masses with their lies, and are upheld to the highest degree; yet behind closed doors, they are abusive to their loved ones and make them believe that it’s their love that causes them to act so repulsively. I’d quote this entire song if I could, as it is a riveting narrative that twists old euphemisms and sayings into a compelling, yet manipulative narrative.
For instance, musician, Manuel Gagneux, says “If luck follows the wicked, I’m a lucky man;” this can be perceived to be a play on the saying “Fortune favors the bold,” which highlights how in many societies, some of the most awful people are among the most powerful and prosperous.
In the music video, a young girl is on the edge, as she suffers from being her mother’s personal punching bag. Her mother has a stature that is rigid and self-righteous, yet she is cruel and enacts several forms of abuse on her daughter. In the low, growling voice of Gagneux, you hear “It’s gonna be over soon…any minute now.”
His words ring true, as over time, her daughter’s rage builds up until she commits homicide on her mother and burns down their home shortly after. The music escalates and climaxes as Gagneux screams “13 years I’ve been waiting here; I feel my life is over!”
She’s eliminated what she thinks are her problems, yet, as she’s sitting next to a lake’s edge, she feels the faint, ghostly touch of her mother’s cool hand on her shoulder. Overcome with all of the memories in her mind that will follow her forever, she screams and violently throws herself in the lake.
One of the most haunting lyrics in this song is “’Cause if you hold me tighter; I’ll give you both and neither;” this perfectly illustrates the losing game we play when we endure emotionally abusive relationships. Even after we’ve long ago distanced ourselves from the abusers, there’s a disparaging world within our heads that takes years to sort out.
Chaeri by Magdalena Bay
I know I’m not the only one who lost a relationship with a loved one during the height of the pandemic shutdown. I thoroughly enjoy the mesmerizing sound this pop track brings, in addition to the singer’s take on the damage both parties inflict on one another in an emotionally abusive relationship.
There are two sides to one story and while most abusive relationships start out one-sided, they often end with wrongdoings done on each side; this in no way lets emotional abusers off the hook, but rather sets us up to take a look into the minds of Magdalena Bay’s lyrics.
In an interview, the artists explain, “‘Chaeri’ muses on mental health, friendship, loneliness and control. It’s about the walls we put up and the walls we should tear down for the sake of authentic connection.”
Similar to Alexander Vincent’s “I Won’t,” “Chaeri” delves into the conflicting thoughts the singer is having. She touches on her regrets, saying that she had no idea things could get this bad with her loved one, and confusingly admits that “It was only that bad with you”; yet she still questions if she was a bad friend.
The pandemic brought out the worst in most of us, and almost no one came out unscathed. Though the singer can’t change the past, she’s learned that, if given the opportunity once more, she would have said to her friend, “Chaeri, please, you’re killing me; it’s only that bad if you tell yourself you’ll never get out of bed.”
The feelings of enduring emotional abuse from our very own family, both by blood and chosen family, can be devastating, and leave behind a fragmented understanding of who we are—and what we’re worth.
These songs about emotional abuse reflect on the myriad emotions we go through while processing our past, and trying to move forward in the present. It is my hope that these songs help to remind you that you are strong, powerful, and worthy of so much love and joy.
You Also Might Like:
- Songs About Insomnia
- Songs About Losing Your Dad
- Songs About Failure
- Songs with ‘Love’ in the Title
- Songs About Teenagers
- Songs About Depression and Loneliness
- Songs About Betrayal
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
This article is a guest post by Randa.