9 Signs You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship
What is Emotional Abuse?
Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.
We've all heard the saying at some point, but nothing could be further from the truth. The scars left by words run the deepest of all, long after physical injuries have healed.
Emotional abuse is horribly common and frequently discounted, even by the victims themselves. There are no bruises, no visits from the police, no hospital trips --- just the slow and terrible erosion of self-esteem and self-worth at the hands of the abuser.
If your partner regularly puts you down, threatens you, humiliates you, or belittles you, you are in an abusive relationship.
Emotional abuse is also a frequent precursor to physical violence. If he or she is willing to hurt you with words, they may well graduate to hurting you with fists.
Everybody deserves a safe and loving relationship where they feel cherished. If your partner is abusing you in any way, GET OUT. It won't get any better, and they will never change. It's not your fault and you didn't cause it -- all you can do is escape it.
Here are some of the signs you might be in an emotionally abusive relationship.
1). You're Afraid
A healthy relationship should not contain fear.
If you're afraid to talk about problems with your partner for fear they will blow up at you, there's something wrong.
You might be afraid to ask for things because you don't know how they will react, or even begin to be physically afraid of them due to their angry outbursts.
Abusers use fear to manipulate their partners into the behavior they want. If you're afraid to confront them, you'll be much easier to control. And angry outbursts leave the recipient feeling like they have done something wrong -- after all, if they haven't, why was the abuser so mad?
If you fear your spouse or partner, it's time to take a very serious look at your relationship.
2). They belittle you and criticize you
"You can't ever do anything right." "God, you're so stupid." "You're crazy."
If someone walked up to you in the street and said these things to you, you would be greatly offended, and then shrug it off.
It's different when it's a loved one saying it. Someone you care about is already inside your emotional armor, and their words can slip right into your heart without you ever really examining them.
Usually it will start at a vulnerable moment -- you've just done something you thought was pretty stupid, for example, and your partner echoes your own negative self-talk, which makes you accept it much more easily.
A supportive partner in a healthy relationship will not constantly find fault with you or belittle you.
If you hear these negative things often enough, you begin to believe them and internalize them, and the cycle just gets worse. The lower your self esteem goes, the more the abuser can pile on to you, and when you accept it, it lowers your self-worth even further.
Remember that the problem is NOT with you, it is in the abuser's own sick mind.
Have you been in an emotionally abusive relationship?
3). They isolate you
At first, it can be exciting and flattering that your partner can't stand to be without you, and wants you to spend all your free time in their company. It feels like love, but it's not - it's control.
You begin to see far less of your family and friends. They would be likely to confront the abusive partner about your treatment, but by the time the abuse starts the isolation is usually in full swing.
He or she hates it when you go out to see friends, and tries to find fault lines in your relationship, exaggerating them. If you got angry with your mother one day, the abusive partner might take the opportunity to fan the flames and make the disagreement seem as massive as possible, hoping you will cling to him/her instead.
Eventually you might start feeling you have to get permission from your partner to out and socialize, or maybe you know they'll be so upset if you do that you don't even try, knowing the emotional storm that would happen if you did.
4). Jealous and Controlling Behavior
Your partner demands to know who you were talking to on the phone, where you went and who you were with. Sometimes they will engage in stalking behavior [following you surreptitiously to "check up" on you and see if you're where you should be, or going through your phone, emails, and mail].
Everything is grounds for suspicion, even if you've never given them a cause for it. Your partner does not trust you, and is unafraid of letting you know.
Trust is one of the cornerstones in any healthy relationship, and if your partner does not extend you such a basic thing, then there's a problem.
5). Everything is always your fault
...or if not your fault, there's another scapegoat. Emotionally abusive people try to lay the blame for everything that's wrong at the feet of anyone but themselves.
If they don't get promoted at work, it's the bad boss and stupid co-workers conspiring against them. If they have a drinking problem it's because someone else is driving them to it. If they get a ticket, it's definitely the cop's fault.
Any of this sound familiar?
Abusive people never want to own up to their own faults and mistakes. If you're with someone who tries to blame you for everything, take heed -- it really ISN'T you.
6). You regularly have to make excuses for their behavior
You frequently find yourself explaining your partner's poor behavior to your friends and family. Maybe you feel like you have to justify it. "Oh, he's been stressed at work," or "She was just having a bad day."
You might begin to feel embarrassed to have your partner visit your friends or family out of fear how he or she will behave -- which in turn leads to the isolation mentioned.
7). Ignores your opinions or accomplishments
If your partner persistently ignores or belittles your opinions and accomplishments, that's another warning sign to heed. A supportive partner will be excited and happy for good fortune in your life.
Maybe you came home excited to share the news of a promotion at work, to be met with indifference or outright hostility. Or perhaps he or she regularly insults your opinions and wishes.
These aren't normal relationship behaviors -- take heed!
Does your partner act delightful and charming and loving in public, only to turn into a totally different person as soon as you get home and close the door?
This is a classic abusive behavior, designed to keep you off-balance and unsure of what to expect.
Do you find yourself still loving their public persona, but wishing they would be like that all of the time? The unfortunate fact is that abusive people are often superficially very pleasant and charming -- they are master manipulators, and one part of manipulation is the ability to identify exactly what you want to hear.
Unfortunately, that stage doesn't last long.
The most serious warning sign is a partner who threatens you in any way. Threats are a final means of control when other methods have failed.
Often they will try to keep you from leaving the relationship by threatening to harm or kill you, themselves, or the family pet if you leave.
Statements such as "If you ever cheat on me, I'll kill you," are also common. You might dismiss this, since you know you're not the type to cheat on anyone - but jealousy is another hallmark of abuse, and you might be accused of things you did not do.
If someone is threatening you, don't dismiss it. You have to assume they may attempt what they say, and take appropriate precautions.
Don't let it scare you into staying, however. If your partner is willing to try to hurt or kill you for leaving, they'll be willing to do the same if you stay.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.