Abuse comes in all forms, unfortunately, and everyone has difference tolerances to this pain. One form of abuse that many individuals will suffer from in their relationships is that of emotional abuse. With physical abuse you have physical scars which can clearly highlight the signs of physical abuse. However, with emotional abuse the signs are not so clear. Physical abuse requires physical contact however emotional abuse can be carried out by a varying number of instruments where it can be words, behavior or certain actions.
We live in a time where they are many different genders, sexualities and partnerships that are recognized leaving all people, careless of their gender or sexuality, subject to emotional abuse. It is important to identify any signs of an abusive relationship however it is also important to keep in mind that a simple “argument” every once and again does not mean you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. Rather it is defined as “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.”
Below, I have listed different signs that could indicate you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship.
- You feel like nothing. This includes degrading you and belittling you in different ways such as disregarding your opinion, humiliating you in public and telling you that you are useless. You are told you are not good enough for them and that they are doing you a favor by staying with you because no one else would accept you.
- You feel like an object. In other words, someone tries to control you and every aspect of your life. Examples of this would be finding yourself restricted within the four walls of your home and told you are not allowed see certain friends, relatives or go out and commit yourself to certain hobbies.
- You feel afraid. Maybe you are afraid to tell your partner how you feel because you cannot predict how they will react or maybe it is because they do not care about your opinion and will tell you to “Stop being so sensitive.”
- You are always blamed for everything. Your partner is having financial problems, difficulty finding a job or family stress and starts to pointing his finger at you saying “This is all because of you” when in reality it has nothing to do with you, yet you start becoming depressed because it’s always your fault. Other scenarios also consist of you being accused of things that you haven’t done.
- You are always forced to put them first. “I need you to do this,” “I need you to do that” and if you say no because you have something else you need to do, you’re suddenly at the receiving side of many hurtful words about how you are “useless at everything” so you start doing everything they ask because you don’t want to receive these wounding comments anymore.
- You are denied your desires. For example, if you want physical intimacy but your partner takes it away from you in order to manipulate you to do what they want. Sometimes partners are hypocritical and will expect you to fulfill their every desire yet when you want your desires fulfilled they refuse.
- You are abandoned. Your boyfriend doesn’t text you, call you, see you and constantly stays distant yet you are not allowed to leave the relationship because he tells you that you are his property.
- You are neglected. You have problems, or you simply want to vent to someone and let the steam out so you decide to go to your girlfriend yet she doesn’t want to hear it. She doesn’t care. She tells you to man up and then leaves the room because she doesn’t have time to listen about your pains and troubles.
- Your secrets become public knowledge. Normally you confide in your loved ones and tell them your secrets. However, if you find that your partner keeps deliberately informing the world of your secrets even after you have informed them multiple times that you do not want them to tell anyone, then this is a form of emotional abuse.
- You are always forced to prove your love. So you show your girlfriend all the love, time and attention in the world and always fulfil her desires and ensure she’s happy yet she constantly has mood swings and tells you to prove your love to her by doing whatever she wants or else she’ll break up with you.
These are only 10 of a never-ending list of possible signs which indicate you are in an emotionally abusive relationship which is why you should ask yourself five important questions:
- Does my partner always criticize me in everything that I do?
- Does my partner always discourage me from achieving my goals?
- Does my partner let me share my sorrows and troubles with them?
- Does my partner always hold me responsible for everything?
- Does my partner make me feel as if I’m living in Hell?
I find that these 5 questions help me narrow down whether I am in a healthy relationship or one that is destructive. If the answers to any of these questions are “Yes” then I ask you to find the root of the problem, trying to solve them first and going to a therapist for professional help. If your other half is not changing after your confrontation then develop a strategy to leave the relationship. Therapists can help with both processes.
If you are a victim of emotional abuse or any other domestic abuse then you can alternatively call the below numbers for advice:
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for the National Domestic Violence Hotline .