Signs Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship
The categories and sub-categories of abuse are substantial. The most commonly thought of being physical abuse. In 2016, a popular hashtag, #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou brought emotionally abusive relationships much-needed exposure and acknowledgment. Women, from all backgrounds and experiences, use this hashtag to share their experiences with emotional abuse and other forms of domestic violence.
Emotional abuse can be defined as any non-physical, verbal, and non-verbal attempt to control and position as dominant over someone, such as stalking, manipulation, and verbal assaults. Emotional abusers can suffer from mental health disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), however, that is not an excuse or representative of all such perpetrators.
8 Signs Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship
Do you have an idea of what emotional abuse means? Here are some signs of an emotionally abusive relationship you should look out for:
- They make you feel less than.
Your self-esteem deteriorates. They insult, humiliate and/or embarrass you often. You are told things like “No one else will want you.”, “You’re stupid” or “don’t cut your hair, you’ll look even uglier”. They may do this in public or in private. They use this tactic to break you. It gives them the opportunity to now mold you into their own idea of perfection.
- You’re cautious when interacting with them.
You walk on eggshells, bend over backward and are always on call. You are regularly aiming to please them as there is a price to pay for being perceived as annoying, upsetting or disappointing them. They “punish” you by making you feel low, giving you the silent treatment, disregarding you or withdrawing affection. You easily fall back into this behavior to remain on their good side and regain some rights in the relationship.
- They’re easily jealous.
Not only are you cautious of your interactions with them, but your interactions with others as well. You may be afraid to spend a lot of time with your friends or family because there tend to be negative repercussions. Jealousy leads to control and you may be forced to keep away from specific individuals, even without an explanation.
- They didn’t hurt you, “you’re just too sensitive”.
Those who emotionally abuse others find it hard to apologize and accept blame. They blame you for your hurt. “Can’t you take a joke?”
- You are blamed for everything.
Everything is your fault. You apologize for things you had no control over. They blame you for their car accident, although you were sick at home. You are blamed for them neglecting you. They blame you for cheating on you. They tell you, “you deserve it”, and over time you believe them. You don’t see the abuse as abuse, but rather just instances of you being at fault, once again.
- They control you.
You are monitored. They check your phone calls, messages, and social media. They drop in on and check up on (stalk) you frequently. You activities, and who you interact with, are restricted. Your progress towards your goals and dreams is limited. Your dependence on them is deliberately increased. They may even pick fights with you to keep you from going anywhere and sabotaging your opportunities.
- They isolate you.
You are expected to be dependent on them and have no one else to turn to. They prevent you from maintaining relationships with your family and friends. This makes it harder for you to leave and traps you.
- They threaten you.
You are controlled and intimidated, whether it is with money, basic needs, your relationships with your loved ones, or by leaving you. They may even go as far as to threaten that they will commit suicide or harm themselves if you leave.
Why You May Not Realize You’re In An Emotional Abusive Relationship
- You’re being manipulated.
You’re made to believe this is love. “It’s just a joke”. You’re made to believe that the problems lie within you and only you. On the other hand, the abuser might follow great abuse with loving behavior. This makes you overlook the actions and gives you something to hold on to when the abuse gets harder to deal with.
- You feel that you’re supposed to do what they want.
You go out of your way to please them. Their wants are prioritized over yours. Even when you are in need and they’re not, you’re doing it out of fear.
You don’t associate neglect with abuse. You think they’re just focused on something else, whether work or their own issues. In fact, they’re disengaged and stonewalling you.
They chide you for expressing concern over manipulation and other wrongs. All wrongs are denied, leaving you to question your memory, and perhaps, your sanity.
- You feel bad about yourself.
The relationship is one-side. However, you often feel that you are not doing enough. They threaten to leave you and threaten to hurt themselves if you leave. In other words, they can leave but you can’t leave them. Missing their calls is a source of stress. On the other hand, your calls regularly go unanswered.
Regaining Your Power From An Emotionally Abusive Relationship
Do not make excuses for your abuser. Although some may have mental health issues, they know exactly what they do and there’s a reason you’re the victim. They know who to have strength for and who to show face to. Experiencing an emotionally abusive relationship over a long period of time impacts how you navigate your life.
He is no longer blowing up your phone to find out where you are, who you are with and for evidence. Instead, you ask permission to go out, you call and report the details of your activities and make sure your only around those he has allowed you to be. You no longer feel manipulated as you are making the “conscious” decision for the welfare of your relationship.
Identifying Emotional Abuse
It is important to know and recognize the signs for yourself as emotional abuse can cause more harm than you thought. Emotional abuse can impair how you see yourself, your quality of life and your ability to trust. It is important to regain your power and leave quickly as physical abuse is commonly preceded by emotional abuse.
These points are not limited to romantic relationships and can be extended to friends, family and workplace relationships. If any of the points made describe your relationship, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, don’t beat yourself up! Chances are you didn’t realize you were being abused until it escalated. The most important thing is that you try to seek help and get out of that relationship. It is much harder to fix your abuser than leave. Although this article was written to engage victims of emotional abuse, if you identify with the abuser, you should also try to seek help for your behavior. Remember, love isn’t supposed to hurt.
Regain your power!
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