Emotional rape can be defined as: Emotional abuse characterized by patterned and purposeful behavior which purpose is to undermine and control the victim. It is an attack on the victim's personality rather than their body. The term "emotional rape" implies a horrific crime, and that is exactly what the victim is going through. In sexual rape, the term "without consent" refer to the victim having not agreed to sex. Emotional rape is the abuse of someone's higher emotions -love, self-respect- without consent. Experts agree that emotional rape is far more complex than verbal abuse. While the latter tends to be erratic and direct response to specific situations, emotional rape is, quite simply, a systematic destruction of someone's personality.
source: Cosmopolitan magazine - September 2001 (ZIP/JPG)
Awareness is the fist line of defense for many hazards. For this reason, it is important that people become more educated about issues of psychological and emotional abuse. There are several forms of psychological abuse, like: Brainwashing, emotional blackmailing, emotional exploitation, emotional rape, and sometimes even hurtful verbal insults. I bet that most people don't even know that there is something called "Emotional rape".
The reason that people don't recognize emotional rape is because it is not recognizable under civil laws. No-one has ever been sent to jail because they emotionally abused another! It makes sense, because emotional damage cannot be quantified, and no-one can be held responsible for another's psyche. For this reason, it is important to spot and deal with emotional offenders, because no civil law would help.
Emotional rape aims to undermine the victim's self-respect and self-image leaving that person vulnerable to abuse. The victim starts developing a sense of dependence on the abuser, and thus feels incapable of escaping the emotional abuse circle.
I will not go into further details about emotional rape; I recommend that you read the full article issued in Cosmopolitan magazine September 2001.
Brainwashing techniques are widely practiced in cults. Because of lack of awareness about brainwashing, we find that numerous people become victims to cultist organizations. Many other forms of psychological abuse exist and as mentioned above, I believe awareness is the best line of defense.